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U.s. Attorney, Dea Looking Into Ruling

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A Routt County judge's order that 2 ounces of marijuana and growing
equipment should be returned to a man who uses it for medicinal purposes is
being reviewed by the Colorado U.S. Attorney's Office and the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration.

Jeff Dorschner, spokesperson for the Colorado U.S. Attorney's Office, said
Wednesday that the office plans to determine a course of action within 21
days, the timeframe by which the return of the marijuana and equipment has
been ordered.

"We're reviewing the judge's order; we're consulting with the DEA and
we'll, within the specified time, determine our next steps," Dorschner said.

Dorschner's comments came after Routt County Judge James Garrecht ruled
Monday that Hayden resident Don Nord, 57, should have the drugs and growing
equipment that were seized during a house search in mid-October returned to

Dan Reuter, a field agent and spokesperson for the Denver field office of
the DEA, said that he does not know of any instance in which the DEA has
returned an illegal controlled substance.

The case has highlighted a conflict between federal and state law. Under
federal law, marijuana is an illegal drug for everyone, but under Colorado
law, people with certain medical conditions can grow and use the drug.

"This is an issue that's got to be resolved at some point," Reuter said.

Colorado is one of nine states that allows medicinal marijuana use. Nord,
who has battled cancer and diabetes and suffers from extreme pain, is
registered with the state's Medical Marijuana Registry program.

The marijuana and growing equipment were obtained during a search in
mid-October by GRAMNET, the Grand, Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement
Team, which is a federal task force.

Criminal drug possession charges were filed against Nord but were dismissed
by Garrecht because the ticket was filed late.

Nord's attorney, Kristopher Hammond, said he was happy with the judge's
decision, but that he and his client might pursue action to get
compensation for the three marijuana plants that were taken during the
search and have been presumed dead.

The state law requires that if drugs and growing equipment are taken during
a search and no charges are pressed, the drugs and equipment must be taken
care of until further order of the court.

"They're supposed to take care of the plants, under our constitution, and
they pulled them up from the ground," Hammond said. "They destroyed my
client's marijuana plants. I think he needs to be compensated for that

Hammond said he couldn't guess whether an appeal would be requested or if
federal agencies would try to get a new ruling.

"We're breaking new ground here," he said. "I don't know what's going to

Deputy District Attorney Marc Guerette, who represented the people of
Colorado and so GRAMNET, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. He
said Monday that he did not know whether his office would pursue an appeal.

Pubdate: Thu, 11 Dec 2003
Source: Steamboat Pilot & Today, The (CO)
Copyright: 2003 The Steamboat Pilot & Today
Contact: editor@steamboatpilot.com
Website: http://www.stmbt-pilot.com/