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Federal authorities balk at order to return medical marijuana

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DENVER (AP) - Despite a judge's order, federal authorities say they don't
want to return marijuana to a Colorado man who said he needs it to ease
symptoms of cancer and other ailments.

A Routt County judge this week ordered authorities to return 2 ounces of
the drug to Don Nord, whose Hayden home was raided by federal officials in

''Obviously, this case has the potential of going a whole lot further than
just this court,'' Judge James Garrecht said Monday after issuing his
decision. ''This may be a precedent-setting case a whole lot further down
the road.''

Deputy District Attorney Marc Guerette declined comment on the ruling and
said he wasn't sure whether he would pursue an appeal.

Nord's attorney wants the pot growing equipment and marijuana plants
returned to his client, but federal officials are balking.

''The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is not in the habit of returning
illegal contraband,'' DEA spokesman Dan Reuter said Tuesday.

At issue is the gulf between federal law barring marijuana cultivation and
possession, and eight states, including Colorado, that allow it for certain
medical uses.

Nord, 57, has battled cancer and diabetes and suffers chronic pain. He
obtained a state certificate allowing him to use marijuana for medical

Despite that, he was ticketed for misdemeanor drug possession. The charges
were dismissed because the government lost its copy of the ticket.

Defense attorney Kristopher Hammond asked Garrecht to order authorities to
return Nord's three marijuana plants, his marijuana and his equipment. The
judge agreed, giving federal officials 21 days.

Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the Colorado U.S. attorney, said staff will
review the judge's order for the return of the marijuana.

DEA officials have said Nord's three marijuana plants probably are dead,
since agents uprooted them when they were seized.

Before Monday's hearing ended, Hammond said: ''Your honor, my client just
asked me if he can grow marijuana again.''

Garrecht replied that he did not give out legal advice.