Colorado

Dec 20, 2013 10:35 PM by Tony Spehar - tspehar@koaa.com

Colorado Court of Appeals agrees Colorado Springs Police should have returned pot to medical marijuana patient

According to a ruling by the Colorado Court of Appeals on Thursday a 4th judicial district judge was right to order the Colorado Springs Police Department to return over 60-pounds of marijuana seized from a man who was later acquitted of drug charges in a case that began in 2011.

In May 2011 police raided the home of Bob Crouse, taking 55 marijuana plants and six-pounds of pot. Crouse is a leukemia patient who uses marijuana to make a potent oil that he claims has kept him alive.

"I'm killing them faster than they can grow, but there is no collateral damage," Crouse said of his experimental treatment for leukemia.

In June 2012 a jury acquitted Crouse of the drug charges he faced, but when Crouse asked for his pot to be returned prosecutor's argued that giving it back to him could lead to police being prosecuted as drug dealers under the Controlled Substances Act (CBA). The CBA still considers pot illegal. This began a long legal battle leading to Thursday's ruling.

"Tax payers are paying for this, it should've been resolved two-years ago, should've been resolved the day they came in my home," Crouse said.

In 2012 a judge ordered police to turn over the pot, rejecting prosecutor's arguments about the potential for federal prosecution. In November 2012 the marijuana was returned, but Crouse's lawyers say it had become unusable while in police storage despite state law which requires police departments to properly care for seized pot. Despite the pot being given back, the legal case continued in the appeals process.

"Appeals are allowed under those circumstances where it's likely that the same set of circumstances is going to present itself," Charles Houghton, an attorney for Crouse, explained.

Houghton and Crouse's other attorney's argued that, under state law, police were required to take care of the pot and return it after Crouse's acquittal while prosecutor's argued their case that federal law didn't allow police to return the marijuana. Two out of three appeals court judges ruled in Crouse's favor, upholding the 2012 ruling from the judge that required police to return the pot.

"What this ruling really does is, in this set of circumstances, state law prevails and therefore returning the medicine is required under state law," Houghton said.

The ruling sets precedent for how police department across the state handle pot they've seized and what to do with it if prosecutions for pot possession fail.

"It's huge for patients, it's a victory for patients, it's a beautiful thing," said Bob Crouse.

Lawyer's for the City of Colorado Springs and the 4th Judicial District, who argued against returning the marijuana, have yet to respond to the Court of Appeals ruling.

Bob Crouse and his lawyers are pursuing a lawsuit against the city seeking compensation for the lost marijuana, which was valued at around $300,000.

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