Windsor man set on faith healing with marijuana |

Windsor man set on faith healing with marijuana

The Daily Tribune
This undated picture shows Medi-Grow owner Lazarus Pino, who is continuing his fight to remain open for business in Windsor, Colo. Pino has been cited daily since Dec. 18, 2009 by the town for violating an ordinance against operating a medical marijuana dispensary under the moratorium. Each citation carries up to a $300 fine. As of Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010, Pino had received 45 citations - a total of $13,500 in possible fines. That doesn't include the other citations he's received daily since Jan. 5 for building code violations. (AP Photo/The Greeley Tribune, Jim Rydbom)
AP | The Greeley Tribune

WINDSOR, Colo. (AP) – Lazarus Pino’s interest in opening a medical marijuana dispensary dates back decades, when his great-grandmother became one of the best-known curanderas in New Mexico.

Curanderismo is Spanish for a faith-based healing practice founded on a knowledge of plants. A curandera is a female healer. Curanderismo has been practiced since the 16th century.

In a 1997 interview with “Herbs for Health” magazine, the then 91-year-old Gabrielita Pino described the 23 different herbs she used to heal everything from open wounds and sores on the skin to infections and other more serious ailments.

Gabrielita said she began as a folk chiropractor and learned enough about herbs to become a herbalist. She eventually became a licensed midwife. She believed in her medicine and enjoyed helping people so much that she rarely charged more than $5 to treat someone, and many times she waived the charges for those with no money.

“She was well sought-out,” said Lazarus Pino, who has been operating a medical marijuana dispensary in Windsor despite orders from the town to shut it down. “People came from miles because they heard of her great healing and natural curing methods. Through time, this branched out to the rest of her family, including my father. My father knew her well, but I was only blessed enough to meet her twice.”

But Pino does know how he was raised. Baking soda on the ends of potatoes and rubbed on the forehead to cure a headache was only one of the many healing techniques his father practiced on Pino when he was a young boy.

“My arm used to go out of place all the time,” Pino said. “My father would use his own energy in his hands to put it back. But the person has to want it. We all knew he could do it, but you have to want to receive what he wants to give.”

Pino talks of poultice, a natural herb blended with oil or beeswax that curanderismos rub into an area to treat pain.

“Marijuana is just another herb,” Pino said. “When I grew up it was on the shelf for the elders to use as a sacrament.”

Standing up to Windsor’s medical marijuana moratorium by keeping his Medi-Grow dispensary open has nothing to do with a desire to intentionally break the law, Pino said.

Instead, he said, it’s all about principle and doing what is right for his family and his clients.

“The only dispensary that was in compliance was In Harmony,” Pino said about the three Windsor dispensaries that he said were open the night a moratorium against more dispensaries was passed by the Town Board in December. “If they would have said, ‘Both you dudes have to shut down,’ I would have said fine. But that isn’t what they did, and (Greg) Hatton didn’t even have a building permit. They let Hatton stay open and closed me down …”

Pino has been cited daily since Dec. 18 by the town for violating an ordinance against operating a medical marijuana dispensary under the moratorium. Each citation carries up to a $300 fine. As of Thursday, Pino had received 45 citations – a total of $13,500 in possible fines. That doesn’t include the other citations he’s received daily since Jan. 5 for building code violations. They, too, carry up to a $300 per-day fine. Although Town Attorney Ian McCargar said the building code citations were supposed to stop while Pino goes through an appeals process with the planning department, the citation Pino received Thursday still listed both violations.

Pino’s comparison to A New Dawn Wellness comes from the state of the two dispensaries on Dec. 16 when the town passed the moratorium. At that meeting, director of planning Joe Plummer handed out a list of eight medical marijuana businesses that were either open or in the process of opening. Their status for completing all the necessary steps was included.

A New Dawn was listed as “open, but not in compliance.” The business was operating; it had leased space; it had not yet paid any sales taxes, but it had a sales tax license; it had planning and zoning approval, but it did not have a building permit to put in a required air filtration system or planning inspection approval.

Medi-Grow, according to the planning department, was not operating but had leased space and had a sales tax license. It also had planning and zoning approval and a building permit pending to install the same air filtration system. Likewise, it did not have planning inspection approval yet.

“They gave him until (January) 15th but shut us down,” Pino said. “That’s not fair.”

Last Thursday, Pino had his first day in court to fight the citations, but Windsor Municipal Court Judge Michael Manning shot down two of his four arguments.

Pino asked the Windsor Municipal Court to dismiss all the citations on grounds the moratorium is unconstitutional. Pino’s attorney, Daniel Taylor of Wheat Ridge, based his motion on what he believed were at least four violations of local, state and federal laws – equal protection, retroactive law making, failure to provide proper notice of a public meeting and enacting an emergency ordinance where no emergency existed. Manning ruled in favor of the town on the public meeting notice and the emergency ordinance adoption.

“It was not unconstitutional,” Manning said. “In fact, the defendant appeared and had the opportunity to testify and the court is not going to second-guess the Town Board on the emergency ordinance unless there is no finding of sufficient evidence that an emergency existed.”

As far as the equal protection and retroactive law arguments were concerned, Manning delayed a decision because he needed to review audio and videotapes of two Town Board meetings where the moratorium was discussed.

“The town is arguing New Dawn was in a different situation because he was able to open although he had building permit issues,” Taylor said. “But New Dawn had no permit. My client had all the paperwork submitted and was waiting for the permit to be pulled.”

Taylor also argued the moratorium is unconstitutional because it created a law requiring compliance in five days before it became effective.

“You can’t create a law today based off of something that happened yesterday,” Taylor said after the hearing.

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