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'Dr. Reefer' Seeks Patient Support Ahead Of Federal Sentencing

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
The former owner of a Boulder medical marijuana dispensary who is now facing federal drug charges in Nevada is soliciting letters from past patients and supporters asking a judge for leniency.

Pierre Werner, who operated the Dr. Reefer dispensary on University Hill, left Colorado last year after a new state law prevented convicted felons from owning medical marijuana dispensaries.

But about six months after he returned to his family's dispensary in Las Vegas, authorities raided the business and filed multiple federal drug charges against a total of 15 people -- including Werner; his mother, Reynalda Barnett; and his brother, Clyde Barnett.

The charges against Werner include conspiracy to distribute marijuana and possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.

Werner, who is free on bond, said Monday that his family has agreed to a plea bargain with federal officials that would leave his mother and brother with probation. Werner, however, faces up to 51 months in federal prison.

Werner is asking patients and other supporters to write letters asking for leniency during his sentencing hearing, which has not yet been scheduled because two other defendants have yet to sign on to the plea bargain.

Werner said he's hoping to receive probation.

"It's a waste of time to send me to prison," Werner said. "Voters here legalized marijuana."

Nevada passed its medical marijuana law in 2000, which Werner said does not provide a way to legally distribute medical marijuana. Patients cannot buy or sell marijuana and can only grow seven plants for personal use.

Werner said his family's Nevada dispensary didn't sell pot, but his mother sold the drug "one time" to an undercover police officer for $60. Since he moved in with her, Werner said he was charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana.

In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal in March, Werner's mother said her son had nothing to do with her dispensary. She told the newspaper that she provided marijuana to patients in exchange for "donations."

Werner, who has two felony convictions for possession of marijuana for sale, served time in Nevada in 2008 and New Jersey in 2000.

He said it's not fair for him to go back to jail when he was focused on the medical aspects of marijuana.

"Until federal law changes, anyone can be subject to the types of penalties that I'm being put through," he said.

Legal analyst Craig Silverman said submitting to the judge letters of support can't hurt Werner's chances at a lesser sentence, but it also might not do much good.

"A federal judge is more restricted than a state court judge," he said. "The sentencing range is smaller, and while a federal judge can go outside of the guidelines, he has to come up with some good reasons to do so."

The sentencing range for Werner calls for between 41 months and 51 months in prison.

Silverman said that, with such a sentence hanging over Werner's head, it's not surprising that he's trying to mitigate the consequences.

"Ultimately, it comes down to the judgment of the court," he said.

Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Washington, D.C., said Monday that Werner formerly operated a Nevada-based chapter of the group.

But the national organization dissolved Werner's charter in the early 2000s, St. Pierre said, following several complaints that Werner was essentially using the group as a "front for selling marijuana."

"We couldn't discern if it was a NORML chapter or a dispensary," St. Pierre said.

Nevada's laws are so strict, he added, that anyone who tries to be a "gangapreneur" there should expect federal authorities to come down on them hard.

"Going back to Nevada, he probably should have kept his compass dead west" to California, he said of Werner.

Lance Smith, owner of the Boulder Kind Care dispensary at 2031 16 St., said he's "not surprised" to hear about Werner's legal woes.

He said it's important that dispensaries operate under the strictest letter of the law, because the industry is under such scrutiny.

"As a business owner and not a prior-felon-drug-dealer type, we knew we would basically have to run our business as any other business would," Smith said. "You have to. You have no other choice at this point."


NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: dailycamera.com
Author: Heath Urie
Copyright: 2011 Media News group
Contact: Contact Us - Boulder Daily Camera
Website: 'Dr. Reefer' seeks patient support ahead of federal sentencing - Boulder Daily Camera
 
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