Improper search leads to no charges against pot grower

September 02, 2004

Ron Bain, The Daily Sentinel

MONTROSE — Charges of growing more marijuana than allowed by the Colorado medical marijuana law never were filed against Michael Branson of Pea Green, it was revealed in a court hearing Thursday.

Branson, 53, is designated as the primary caregiver, or grower, for an Eckert woman with multiple sclerosis who is a legal user of medical pot.

“It was an improper search of the property” that made the 22 plants and 13 bags of pot seized from Branson’s property on Aug. 18 inadmissible in court, District Attorney Tom Raynes said following the hearing.

“We felt we were ethically bound not to file when it was a clear suppression issue,” Raynes said.

Deputy District Attorney Daniel Hotsenpiller, representing the district attorney’s office at the hearing, told County Judge John Mitchel there were “no charges,” and the judge released Branson’s bond.

After the hearing, Hotsenpiller expressed his displeasure when the Eckert woman asked for her medicine back.

“I don’t answer rhetorical questions,” Hotsenpiller said.

Branson said it was too late in the growing season to start another batch of marijuana plants in numbers that would comply with the law.

He also said the medical marijuana law stated that the sheriff was supposed to return the marijuana seized by deputies.

“We would have to have a court order to return it,” Sheriff Warren Waterman said. “We won’t return evidence without a court order. I don’t know what the procedure is going to be.”

The Eckert woman said the marijuana she smokes relieves joint pain and spasms associated with multiple sclerosis.

Ron Bain can be reached via e-mail at

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