Pot suspect claims medical permission
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado CO
SUMMIT COUNTY ” Two Blue River residents arrested on suspicion of cultivation and possession of marijuana claim to have legal permission to do so for medical reasons.
Larimer County authorities arrested Christopher Stephen Crumbliss, 32, and his wife, Tiffany Anne Crumbliss, 37, in Fort Collins on Aug. 14 and subsequently seized more than 90 marijuana plants found in their Blue River home.
But the couple contends they are protected as registered medicinal-marijuana users and caregivers under Colorado’s Amendment 20.
“We are the kind of people that help sick people,” Chris Crumbliss said. “We are legal under the medical-marijuana law, and sick people are the people we are helping.”
It was the third time that Crumbliss has been charged with marijuana cultivation and the second time in Larimer County. He was arrested in December of 2006 in Jefferson County and in May of 2007 in Larimer County.
The Jefferson County case began when Crumbliss was pulled over for not signaling a change of lanes. The officer found 36 marijuana plants in the car and suspected him of driving under the influence.
Originally, Amendment 20 limited caregivers to five patients each and allowed for no more than six plants per patient, meaning Crumbliss had too many plants.
In July of 2007, though, Denver District Judge Larry Naves ruled in the case of David LaGoy that it was unconstitutional to limit the number of patients a caregiver can serve.
Jefferson County officials dropped the 2006 marijuana-cultivation charges against Crumbliss because of the ruling, said Pam Russell, spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office.
But he was found guilty of driving under the influence, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in a Aug. 7-8 jury trial, Russell said.
Crumbliss was arrested again in May of 2007 by the Larimer County criminal-impact unit. He and his wife were charged with marijuana cultivation and marijuana possession with the intent to distribute.
The case is scheduled for a status conference on Sept. 3.
Because it is an active case, prosecutors declined to comment.
Then, earlier this month, deputies with the Larimer County Sheriff’s Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency obtained search warrants for Crumbliss’ three homes in Larimer County and Blue River and confiscated more than 200 plants and more than 20 pounds of finished product and narcotics, according to Sgt. Joe Shellhammer, supervisor for the criminal-impact unit.
Tiffany Crumbliss had the only valid certificate for medicinal-marijuana use at the time of arrest, Shellhammer said.
Chris Crumbliss claims he had at least 10 valid certificates, including his own, at the time of the raid.
To be a caregiver, though, one does not have to have a registered certificate or the certificates of their patients, said Ron Hyman, state registrar of vital statistics, the agency in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that maintains medical-marijuana records.
“We cannot issue a specific certificate for the caregiver,” Hyman said. “What we recommend is for the patient to provide a photocopy of their card for the caregiver, which helps the law enforcement in clearing up questions that may come up. But they aren’t required to do so.”
The state does restrict caregivers to no more than six plants per patient ” including three or fewer mature plants ” unless medically necessary.
Crumbliss said he provides medical marijuana for about 50 patients, which would allow him to have as many as 300 plants.
Currently, the Crumblisses are collecting copies of patients’ certificates to use in court.
“Right now, I’m in possession of 33 (certificates) … A couple of people we are reaching by telephone, and they are sending them to a P.O. box,” he said. “Basically our numbers were legal, and we can prove that in court and plan to.”
The most recent case has been combined with the 2007 case and will be discussed in a court status conference on Sept. 3, as well.
In addition to the criminal proceedings, the Crumblisses say they plan to sue the Larimer and Summit County sheriff’s departments for failing to take care of the marijuana plants that were confiscated, as required under Amendment 20.
He also has filed civil complaints against the officer who requested the search warrants accusing him of perjury and witness tampering.
“There were cards on the wall,” Chris said. “They didn’t really take the time to find out if the cards are clear or not.”
Jonathan Batuello can be reached at (970) 668-4653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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