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