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Marijuana Cultivator Gets Pot Back from Sheriff


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Montrose -- The Montrose County Sheriff's Office has returned some of the pot it seized last month from a registered medical marijuana caregiver.
MCSO Det. Bill Smith said 53-year-old Michael Branson was provided 2 ounces of useable marijuana, which is the amount he is entitled to possess under state law.

He added it felt odd giving the pot back, because cops are accustomed to seizing marijuana, not dispensing it. "It basically goes against the grain," Smith said.

Montrose County Sheriff Warren Waterman said giving marijuana back to someone is a first in his 36-years as a law officer. "It's never happened in my career," he said.

Branson could not be reached for comment regarding the return of the marijuana.

MCSO personnel arrested Branson Aug. 18 on suspicion of marijuana cultivation after finding pot growing in a garden at his Pea Green residence.

However, prosecutors decided not to file charges against Branson because the evidence seized from his property is inadmissible in court.

There was apparently a miscommunication between the MCSO and the 7th Judicial District Attorney's Office on the legality of the pot seizure, said Waterman, who did not elaborate on the reason why charges weren't pursued.

Branson has said he is registered with the state to grow medical marijuana for a 44-year-old Eckert area woman who has multiple sclerosis.

Branson was arrested because MCSO personnel discovered 22 plants on his property, which is 16 more than allowed under the state's medical marijuana statute.

The plants were destroyed by the MCSO, said Smith. Deputies also allegedly found another 13 ounces of packaged marijuana inside his residence.

Branson has said he was growing more pot than allowed by the state because he is attempting to become a registered medical marijuana patient himself and a caregiver for another individual.

To be listed on the state's medical marijuana registry, a patient must obtain certification from a licensed Colorado physician that they have been diagnosed with a debilitating condition that may be alleviated by marijuana.

Registered medical marijuana patients or caregivers can possess no more than 2 ounces of useable marijuana and not more than six marijuana plants, with three or fewer being mature, flowering plants.

Waterman said it would help if the state provided law enforcement agencies with a list of registered medical marijuana patients and caregivers so police would know who can legally grow pot.

Source: Montrose Daily Press (CO)
Author: Scott Schwebke
Published: September 24, 2004
Copyright: 2004 The Montrose Daily Press
Contact: scotts@montrosepress.com
Website: montrosepress.com | Montrose, Colorado
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