Medical-marijuana patient heads to trial

By chillinwill · Jul 23, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    Louisville man plans to give speech at CU ahead of trial

    BOULDER, Colo. — A Louisville medical marijuana patient who was arrested last year on suspicion of possessing more than a legally allowed amount of the drug is fighting back as he heads to trial in Boulder County District Court next month.

    Jason Lauve, 38, was arrested June 26, 2008, on suspicion of felony marijuana possession after police searched his home and found more than 30 marijuana plants. The case is scheduled to go to trial Aug. 3, and Lauve is asking people to support him by attending the trial, writing letters to the media and contacting the Boulder County district attorney to "tell him to stop prosecuting sick people."

    Lauve, who uses a cane and a wheelchair after breaking his back at Eldora Mountain Resort in 2004, also is holding a talk Tuesday at the University of Colorado titled "Medical Marijuana: How Patients and Caregivers Can Protect Themselves."

    "We're depending on the First Amendment to educate people about what's going on," said Lauve's attorney, Rob Corry.

    At Tuesday's talk, Lauve will share his story about how he was injured, how he self-medicated, how he ended up in Boulder County Jail and why he's now headed to trial on felony charges.

    Lauve, Corry and a patient advocate with the Rocky Mountain Caregivers Cooperative hope to educate Colorado patients about the law and their rights to legally grow and possess marijuana. Patients with "debilitating medical conditions" can use cannabis as a medicine, if a physician recommends it, according to Corry.

    But authorities sometimes deny that right, he said, like in Lauve's case. Corry said his client presented police with a valid medical marijuana card when investigators searched his home and seized his medicine.

    "He did nothing wrong," Corry said. "I'm baffled as to why the District Attorney's Office feels it needs to spend court days and Boulder County residents' time to sit for three days and assess whether this person is guilty of a felony and deserves to spend time in prison."

    District Attorney Stan Garnett said he can't comment about Lauve's case because it's heading to trial, but he said his office is committed to treating Lauve fairly.

    "We only prosecute cases where we have sufficient evidence and can prove a violation of the law," Garnett said. "We don't prosecute cases to make examples of people. In fact, it's important to me and everyone in my office that we treat each case individually and each defendant fairly."

    Garnett said he has a "fair amount of sympathy" for medical-marijuana patients.

    "But my job is to enforce the law is it is currently written," he said.

    Boulder County sheriff's Sgt. Barry Hartkopp, who works on the county's drug task force, said medical marijuana patients can legally possess six marijuana plants and two ounces of product. A doctor can give permission to have more, he said, but evidence found at Lauve's home led investigators to believe that "he was outside the limit of the law."

    Lauve said he was just following his doctor's orders on how to treat himself for the extreme pain he's suffered since a snowboarder crashed into him at Eldora five years ago. Lauve -- who was in his 10th year volunteering for the Eldora Special Recreation program when he was injured -- said he wanted to find a way to wean himself off morphine and other opiates, and ingesting marijuana through food helped him do that.

    Lauve said he got into trouble after trying to grow his own plants without much knowledge of how to do so. He had dozens of unusable plants, and decided to collect them in trash sacks in his garage. He didn't want to put them by the curb for fear that teenagers or criminals would find them.

    "I had no idea what to do with them," he said.

    Even if he had been using all the plants officers found in his garage, patient advocate Timothy Tipton said, Lauve had a doctor's permission to possess larger amounts of marijuana because he ingests the drug -- which requires more plants than smoking.

    By Vanessa Miller
    July 22, 2009
    Daily Camera

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  1. chillinwill
    Medical-marijuana user says pot lets him 'have a life`
    A Louisville man on trial for allegedly possessing excessive amounts of medicinal marijuana broke down in court Wednesday as he testified about the pain he has endured since being hit by a snowboarder on the slopes of Eldora Mountain Resort nearly five years ago.

    Jason Lauve fought back tears as he described how he went from being an avid outdoorsman and an expert telemark skier -- who taught disabled children how to ski -- to being a person in chronic pain who takes a laundry list of medications and uses a wheelchair to get around much of the time.

    He said smoking and ingesting marijuana -- with a state-issued medical marijuana license -- has given him pain relief that no other pharmaceutical drug or medical treatment has been able to provide.

    Lauve, 38, faces a felony marijuana possession charge -- punishable by up to three years in prison -- after police found more than 30 plants and other forms of the drug in his home last summer.

    The jury will hear closing arguments in the three-day trial this morning.

    Boulder County District Judge Maria Berkenkotter told the eight men and four women on the jury Wednesday that they could find Lauve guilty of a felony possession charge of more than 8 ounces of marijuana, or one of two lesser counts -- possession of 1 to 8 ounces or possession of less than an ounce.

    He also faces a charge of possessing marijuana concentrate.

    Lauve`s testimony dominated the day, as he spoke about being forced to abandon his days of 100-mile bicycle rides for a cane and wheelchair following the December 2004 ski collision.

    He told the jury his health was further compromised in a 2007 auto accident, in which he was rear-ended by a woman who was texting on her phone.

    During breaks in the trial, Lauve would lie down on a couch in the hallway outside the courtroom.

    Combing through a bag of medications that have been prescribed to him, Lauve testified that he takes Vicodin and Relafen, among other painkillers. But he said they all have side effects that require him to take additional medication.

    Lauve told the jury that after discussing the possible benefits of marijuana with his doctor, he was approved for a medical marijuana card and has renewed his license every year.

    He said marijuana has helped him function again and allowed him to wean himself off of a couple of the painkillers he was taking, such as morphine and Oxycodone.

    "I didn`t want a role of growing marijuana in my life," he testified. "It was a necessity. It allowed me to be participating in society, to have a life."

    Lauve testified that he sprinkles the potent part of the marijuana bud into his tuna fish or oatmeal or mixes it into his butter before eating it, allowing him to get through the work day without excessive discomfort. He also typically smokes pot three times a day, Lauve said.

    Prosecutors allege that the 34 ounces -- or more than 2 pounds -- of pot seized at Lauve`s house in June 2008 were a clear violation of the constitutional amendment Colorado voters passed decriminalizing medical marijuana. The law limits a patient to 2 ounces of usable marijuana and six plants.

    But Lauve argues that the amendment also includes a provision that protects a patient or caregiver who claims to need more than the state-mandated maximum to address a debilitating condition.

    He said he simply grew what he needed to ease his pain and never used the drug to get high. He said the 10 to 12 Ziploc bags of marijuana seized by police contained a typical amount of the drug that he would have in his possession at any given time.

    By John Aguilar
    August 6, 2009
    Colorado Daily
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