Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett dropped charges against a Nederland woman who faced felony drug charges stemming from her possession of marijuana for medical purposes.
Sherri Versfelt was arrested in July 2008 after police raided her home and found 50 marijuana plants. She had an expired medical marijuana registry card belonging to another patient and a previous diagnosis of a "severe debilitating medical condition" related to surgery as a teenager to remove a massive growth from her abdomen.
Versfelt spent 27 days in jail because she did not have the money to post bond. She was set to go to trial next week on felony charges of cultivation of marijuana, possession with intent to distribute, possession of 8 ounces or more of marijuana, and possession of oxycodone. The charges carry a maximum penalty of six years in prison.
Amendment 20, approved by Colorado voters in 2000, allows patients and caregivers to have 2 ounces of marijuana or six plants for medical use, but the law also allows an "affirmative defense" that a defendant felt a larger amount was necessary to treat his or her medical condition.
That was the defense used successfully by Jason Lauve, a Louisville man who was acquitted of felony drug possession charges this summer.
Robert J. Corry Jr., the Denver attorney who represented Lauve and Versfelt, wrote a guest commentary that appeared in Thursday's Camera asking why Garnett was taking the case to trial when Garnett had said medical marijuana prosecution was his lowest priority.
Prosecutors filed a motion Thursday asking that all charges be dismissed.
Garnett said he was not responding to the publicity around the case but to a judge's decision Wednesday that Versfelt could present a medical marijuana defense -- even though she obtained her own medical marijuana card after she was arrested, not before.
Garnett said he inherited the case, along with thousands of other felony cases, from his predecessor, Mary Lacy, and that in each case, prosecutors need to assess the particulars before making a decision about whether to proceed.
After reviewing it, Garnett said he felt the courts should rule on whether a medical marijuana card could be obtained after the fact.
"I had told the deputy (district attorney) that if the judge ruled she could present the medical marijuana defense, we should drop the charges," he said Thursday evening. "So that's what we did."
Corry said he was happy the charges were dropped.
"This is a victory for the taxpayers of Boulder County, for the voters of Colorado and for medical marijuana," he said.
October 15, 2009