Boulder pot patient acquitted by sympathetic jury

Medical Marijuana patient and possessor Jason Lauve, who was slammed on a ski slope by a snowboarder four years ago and who has been hobbled and in pain ever since, was targeted by authorities based on a complaint filed by one of his Longmont neighbors. Lauve was charged with felony drug crimes. Yesterday, a year after the police raided his home, he was acquitted in a Boulder County courtroom by a jury that seemed as sympathetic to Lauve as it was frustrated by and suspicious of the weak case presented by state attorneys.

Lauve was charged mainly with possessing too much pot. The case was based on constitutional language deriving from Amendment 20, passed in 2000, which states that patients may possess no more than 2 ounces of useable marijuana and six plants.

Police confiscated roughly 2 pounds of marijuana from Lauve’s home, mostly plants kept in garbage bags in the garage.

Lauve’s lawyers, however, as well as state medical marijuana advocate groups, pointed out the selective way authorities chose to read the law. The full language of the possession clauses provides great leeway for patients and doctors to decide on the amount of marijuana prescribed in each case.

(4) (a) A patient may engage in the medical use of marijuana, with no more marijuana than is medically necessary to address a debilitating medical condition. A patient’s medical use of marijuana, within the following limits, is lawful:

(I) No more than two ounces of a usable form of marijuana; and
(II) No more than six marijuana plants, with three or fewer being mature, flowering plants that are producing a usable form of marijuana.

(b) For quantities of marijuana in excess of these amounts, a patient or his or her primary care-giver may raise as an affirmative defense to charges of violation of state law that such greater amounts were medically necessary to address the patient’s debilitating medical condition.

The Boulder Daily Camera reported from the courtroom:

Jury foreman Roger Grady said after the trial that he and his 11 colleagues simply attempted to interpret the state law as “common men” would…

“We don’t know what the limit is for medical marijuana, and the prosecution didn’t produce anyone who knew what that limit was,” he said.

If prosecutors were using Lauve as a “test case” for how the state’s medical marijuana law should be applied, Grady said, they chose the wrong man. Grady accused prosecutors of not doing their “homework” and bringing a relatively weak case against Lauve.

“We thought, ‘This guy is doing everything in the law as it was written,'” Grady said.

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said his office will not appeal. He added that he didn’t see the case as a way to test the state’s laws on the matter. But in her closing arguments, prosecuting attorney Karen Lorenz told the jury that if Lauve was found innocent, then Colorado patients and caregivers would have license to possess as much pot as they wanted to possess.

Marijuana advocacy group Colorado 420 Coalition also interviewed Foreman Grady:

They said that he could have had “a ton” and they would have acquitted him because the DA presented no evidence that the amount he had was not medically necessary. The foreman also said that there were only three people that were undecided when they took their initial poll in the jury room. So it wasn’t even close. [This is a] victory for all medicinal cannabis patients in Colorado. A very intelligent jury has ruled that Article 18, Section 14 of the Colorado Constitution allows a patient to determine what amounts are medically necessary to treat their condition.

“Rolling out of the Boulder County Justice Center in a wheelchair Thursday with a jumble of once-confiscated pot in his lap, Jason Lauve smiled and waved to supporters,” reported the Camera.

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