Colo. woman loses medical marijuana appeal
DENVER – A Colorado court ruled Thursday that a medical marijuana provider must have personal contact with her patients to be considered a primary caregiver.
The decision upholds the conviction against Stacy Clendenin, a Longmont woman found guilty of marijuana cultivation and possession with intent to distribute. She was sentenced in February 2008 to one year of unsupervised probation and 48 hours of community service.
Clendenin argued she was responsible for clients she never met.
But the Colorado Court of Appeals wrote that a caregiver must do more to help a patient with a debilitating condition than just supply marijuana.
Clendenin had said she wanted a new trial to prove she wasn’t a drug dealer. Her attorney, Robert Corry, said she would likely appeal to the state Supreme Court.
Colorado voters legalized marijuana use and cultivation for medicinal purposes in 2000 but the state doesn’t license or regulate dispensaries, outlets that sell it.
Although the law has been in effect for several years, municipalities across the state are still trying to determine how to handle the growing number of dispensaries, and in some cases have barred them from opening until local governments pass rules.
More than 10,000 people in Colorado use medical marijuana and more than 60 dispensaries have opened in the state.
The Appeals Court said Clendenin’s case was the first time Colorado had reviewed the caregiver definition. The court cited Washington and California as states that have come to a similar conclusion about what it means to be a primary caregiver to medical marijuana patients.
Still, one Appeals Court judge said in the ruling the Colorado’s medical marijuana amendment “cries out for legislative action.”
“I could not agree more,” said Colorado Attorney General John Suther’s, whose office argued against Clendenin’s appeal.
Authorities found 44 marijuana plants when they searched Clendenin’s Longmont home in October 2006. She argued that a lower court wrongly prevented her clients from testifying that she was their provider through a cooperative she supplied.
But the Appeals Court said the lower court was right in allowing only clients Clendenin knew personally to testify on her behalf.
Brian Vicente, with the group Sensible Colorado, which promotes medical marijuana use, said he didn’t expect the ruling against Clendenin to affect the way outlets operate.
“The way dispensaries are run in Colorado, they’re already interacting with patients every day,” Vicente said.
Many provide other services to clients in addition to marijuana, such as acupuncture, massage, and counseling, he said.
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