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Marijuana Patch Seized In Beulah

Lord Mong

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Investigators on sky patrol Tuesday found plenty of signs that marijuana was growing in Beulah.

They chose to ignore one of them: The sign that the grower had posted to alert anyone who found the pot patch that he was growing grass with the government's permission.

Assisted by the National Guard, narcotics detectives from the Pueblo County Sheriff's Department conducted an aerial search of rural Pueblo County with the aim of scoring some weed. Sheriff Kirk Taylor said they succeeded by recognizing, then seizing, 140 marijuana plants that purportedly belong to 53-year-old Tom Sexton.

But Sexton contends that the sheriff's department wrongfully raided the garden where he grows medicinal marijuana for himself and a number of seriously ill patients who rely on the drug and have the state's approval to use it.

“Not only are we fighting spiders, mice, deer and fungus, we're fighting law enforcement,” Sexton said. “The problem is they're not educated. They don't understand or recognize this law that's on the books here in Colorado. They had my place all torn up without doing any investigation beforehand. I'm living with being considered guilty until I prove myself innocent.”

Sexton said deputies handcuffed him, read him his Miranda rights, then released him when he provided proof of his state-issued medical marijuana card, and proof that he is the designated caregiver to a number of medical-marijuana cardholders.

Taylor acknowledged that investigators are aware of Sexton's claim that he was growing pot legally. Taylor said that facet of the investigation is being reviewed by the district attorney's office.

Deputy District Attorney Tony Marzavas said he will review reports from the sheriff's department when they are complete, and ply those findings against Colorado's medicinal marijuana law.

Voters statewide passed the law in November 2000. It allows patients with a physician's recommendation to grow up to six plants, and to designate a care provider who also is allowed to grow six plants for the patient.

The federal government does not recognize medicinal marijuana laws, despite their passage by voters in several states. Taylor said his department has discussed Tuesday's raid with federal agents, but the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is unlikely to get involved. “Their guidelines are restricted to quantities much greater than this,” Taylor said. “I don't care about the size. I care about what's good for the community.”

Marzavas said prosecutors plan to explore whether Sexton is endorsed as the caregiver to enough patients to justify owning the 140 plants that were seized.

Sexton said three state-recognized caregivers serving more than 20 patients, who suffer from ailments ranging from multiple sclerosis to cancer, were growing plants at the raided site. Sexton said his operation, incorporated as Medimar Ministries, is a legitimate business.

He is desperate to get the plants back as quickly as possible. Marzavas said at this point they are considered evidence, and there are no immediate plans to return the plants to Sexton.

A watering system, topsoil, fertilizer and other materials used to cultivate the plants also were seized.

“They even took my hammock,” Sexton said.

The sheriff said his department plans to continue conducting aerial surveillance to locate marijuana in rural parts of Pueblo County as harvest time approaches.

“The message we're sending to anybody who's growing (marijuana) in Pueblo County is that you'd better cut it out,” Taylor said.

Sexton said the raid will put a pinch on patients who are relying on his marijuana to manage their pain.

“It means we're going to be suffering a little bit this winter,” said Sexton. “We're gonna have to go out on the black market or go to some other facility to buy medicine.”

News Hawk: Lord Mong - 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: The Pueblo Chieftain Online
Author: Patrick Malone
Copyright: ©1996-2007 Star-Journal Publishing Corp.
Website: The Pueblo Chieftain Online - Pueblo, Colorado U.S.A
 
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