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Judge to Decide on Reopening Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Next Week

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A judge in the 8th Judicial District Court will hear closing arguments from attorneys on both sides of the medical marijuana debate March 22 and plans to make a ruling on the case brought forward by attorney Rob Corry the same day.

Corry, an attorney based in Denver who is well-known for his work defending medical marijuana patients and dispensaries, is fighting for a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction. These legal actions would allow the three medical marijuana dispensaries that are plaintiffs in the case to reopen and would prohibit the city of Loveland from enforcing its prohibition of the shops. They were forced to close March 1 after Loveland voters approved a ban during November's election.

Corry claims the dispensaries operating in Loveland are not technically licensed medical marijuana centers under state law at this point, so the city's ordinance prohibiting them from operating should not affect them.

The three plaintiff dispensaries Corry is representing are Rocky Mountain Kind, Magic's Emporium and Colorado Canna Care. Additionally, John and Jane Doe are named as plaintiff medical marijuana patients.

The defendants in the case are the city of Loveland and the state of Colorado, represented by Josh Marks, who is a private attorney; Loveland's city attorney John Duval; and Geoffrey Blue, deputy attorney general for the state of Colorado.

The defense is arguing that after a law was passed at the state level in June of 2010, the decision about whether or not to allow dispensaries to operate was up to local authorities – such as a City Council. Rather than simply outlaw the dispensaries, the council voted last summer to put the issue to a vote. Voters rejected by a fairly wide margin the idea of letting the dispensaries continue to operate.

On Tuesday, Corry called close to 10 witnesses to testify before Judge Daniel Kaup.

One medical marijuana user, Theresa Murdock, said she suffers from pain because she has been run over by two semis, has had two strokes, has asthma, has only one kidney, has had West Nile virus and does chemotherapy treatment every month or so.

"I have a very hard time standing, sitting and laying is almost impossible," Murdock said. "I'm in almost constant pain."

Murdock, who said she lives on Storm Mountain west of Loveland, has a hard time driving into Loveland to get her medical marijuana, and if she had to drive even further to a different city, she would suffer even more.

Murdock said she purchases her marijuana from Magic's Emporium, one of the plaintiffs in the case. The dispensary's environment puts her at ease, unlike other dispensaries she has visited that she said felt more like illegal drug operations.

"I felt safe (in Magic's)," she said. "They connected with me right away."

Since the shops closed March 1, Murdock has not purchased marijuana anywhere else, she said.

"I don't know what I'm going to do," she said.

Candace Schuelke, another medical marijuana user, said that since the shops closed, she has had to buy her marijuana illegally. She said she is afraid to drive in traffic and wouldn't want to venture far away from her home to a different dispensary.

Corry also called Dr. Val Landes as a witness, who is a physician based in Fort Collins, who said he has prescribed medical marijuana for approximately 1,000 patients.

"All of my patients I will stand behind," Landes said.

Many of Marks' and Blue's cross-examination questions focused on the fact that there are dispensaries in Fort Collins, Berthoud and Boulder where the patients can obtain marijuana.

Additionally, they questioned Autumn Todd, owner of Rocky Mountain Kind and Magic's Emporium, who said he is still in the red and has not made a salary since he bought the businesses in November 2009 and August 2010, respectively.

He said that while he owns the businesses to make money, "the main reason I'm in it is for the quality of life for our patients."

Duval called Luke Hecker, Loveland's police chief, as a witness Tuesday. He said there was an increase in crime in Loveland when the dispensaries were operational.

Between August 2009 and August 2010, he said, "we responded to at least seven serious crimes at various medical marijuana dispensaries in the city."

The crimes included armed robberies, burglaries, criminal mischief and assault, he said. He said he believes the crimes will continue if the three dispensaries in question reopen, despite the fact that none of the three was involved in those incidents.

"The dispensaries targeted were targets of opportunity," he said. "If any were allowed to reopen, especially if there were fewer, it would create an opportunity for criminal activity of some kind."


News Hawk- Jacob Husky 420 MAGAZINE
Source: coloradoan.com
Author: Maria Servold
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: coloradoan.com.
Website: Judge to decide on reopening medical marijuana dispensaries next week
 
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