Medical marijuana case on hold till Nov. |

Medical marijuana case on hold till Nov.

What could be a landmark case in Colorado law surfaced in district court in Glenwood Springs Thursday. A defendant in a medical marijuana case, Justin Brownlee, appeared in court briefly and had his case continued to Nov. 10 pending the outcome of defendant Gene Brownlee’s hearing before the court on Sept. 15.

A third case, against Gene Brownlee’s ex-wife, Jennifer Ryan, was dismissed in June because of mishandled evidence. Ryan, Brownlee, his nephew Justin Brownlee and Drew Gillespie were charged with various counts of possession with intent to distribute.

Last summer, the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team (TRIDENT) confiscated 130 marijuana plants from Ryan and Brownlee’s apartment in Rifle. Ryan maintained she was certified to grow and administer marijuana for medical purposes. Legally, she could have up to six plants or as many as she felt necessary to treat a given medical condition. Gene Brownlee also claimed he had a medical condition that he treated with marijuana.

The law stipulates that the plants taken in evidence must be kept alive. However, the TRIDENT officers who seized the plants admitted in court they destroyed the plants, keeping only one leaf and pictures for evidence.

The dismissal was timely because the U.S. Supreme Court had recently decided that medical marijuana growers in states where the practice is legal could still face federal charges.

Justin Brownlee’s case now hinges on the outcome of Gene Brownlee’s motions hearing, said his attorney Paul Rachesky. He asked for a short continuance initially, saying he assumed Judge Daniel Petre would hand down his decision on the motions filed in Gene Brownlee’s case the next day. Petre laughed and said that wasn’t likely and suggested Justin Brownlee’s next court appearance be delayed until November.

Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510

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