Medical marijuana dispensaries charged in Springs sue to clarify plant count rules

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In 2010, the Colorado Legislature outlined rules for the medical marijuana industry in this state with the passage of House Bill 1284.

But vague language about patient plant limits could be putting at least two medical marijuana center owners in jeopardy of felony prosecution.

Both Michael Kopta, owner of Natural Advantage LLC, and Alvida Hillery, who owns Rocky Mountain Miracles, were cited for violating their plant-count limit earlier this year after Colorado Springs police dropped by for an inspection.

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Shawn Hauser.
Based on police interpretation of state law, their plant count didn't match up with patient records and both owners were charged at the state level with marijuana cultivation. But according to Shawn Hauser, an associate with McAllister, Darnell and Associates, which is handling both cases, the Colorado Springs police are using arbitrary rules not outlined by the state's Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division.

Hauser adds that her clients aren't the only owners in the Springs to be charged for similar violations.

Colorado law makes it clear that medical marijuana centers and caregivers have a limit of six plants for every registered patient -- with only three of those plants flowering at any given time. But what the law doesn't make clear, according to Hauser, is when those plants can be grown.

According to Hauser, the MMED has never ruled whether a center can begin growing at the moment a patient turns in his paperwork or if it has to wait until the patient receives approval to use medical marijuana from the Department of Public Health and Environment, which is charged with the patient application process.

Because of this confusion, Sean McAllister, an attorney with the firm, sent a letter to the MMED in March asking for clarification in writing. According to the response posted on the MMED website, McAllister was told that his question was too vague for a reply. MMED director Laura Harris instead gave information about the length of time patients must wait before switching their primary grower (120 days), not how long a center must wait before actually putting plants in the soil.



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Natural Advantage, LLC from Facebook.
Hauser says there was nothing vague in McCallister's request and believes the MMED was dodging the question. Kopta and Hillery have since filed in Denver District Court, asking for a judge to clarify the matter.



Julie Postlethwait, spokeswoman for the MMED, said she couldn't comment on the issue because the MMED has been served in the lawsuit. She pointed us to McAllister's letter on the MMED website for information regarding plant count and the "120 rule."

"Our clients are trying to be lawfully compliant; they thought they were," Hauser explains. "But it's hard to show that they are compliant when the MMED won't clarify their rules. If they can't even answer their own questions, how can we?"

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: Patient fired for failing DISH drug test finds possible loophole" and "Medical marijuana dispensaries can't deduct business expenses on state tax returns."


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15 comments
James McV
James McV

 Watching Lehmkuhl testify on the stand was jaw-dropping in Bob's case, only because the honorable Detective (cough) was contradicting his testimony in the Kappelman case....

Jason Lauve
Jason Lauve

I am not surprised that D.A. Dan May is going after these centers, the first obvious issue is that this is "Based on police interpretation of state law."  This is an oxymoron, to point out some facts, the average IQ of an officer is below most of society.  http://www.iqcomparisonsite.com/Occupations.aspx After observing the trials of caregiver Elisa Kappelmann and then cancer patient Bob Crouse, both tried in Colorado Springs, El Paso County, where D.A. Dan May commands (read dictates to) his prosecutors and The Metro Vice, Narcotics and Intelligence Division (VNI) to do his bidding, I am convinced that there is widespread corruption coming from the D.A.'s office and this may even include some judges too.The VNI detectives, such as Detective Lehmkuhl, lied consistently in both trials; how many people are being railroaded by these cronies?D.A. Dan May and all law enforcement who continue to lie and think that they can create their own rules, should be removed from their jobs until they can demonstrate a competent level of knowledge about the laws of Colorado.

Malcolm Kyle
Malcolm Kyle

The fact is, Donkey, prohibitionists like yourself don't care! You don't care that, historically, the prohibition of any mind altering substance has never succeeded. You don't care about spawning far worse conditions than those you claim to be alleviating.  It must actually be quite sad being a despotic imbecile, and one so desperate that you have to make up imaginary friends. 

Malcolm Kyle
Malcolm Kyle

Donkey, as per usual, you're being abusive which tells us that you do not have any reasonable arguments with which to debate us. 

Malcolm Kyle
Malcolm Kyle

My pleasure entirely, Michael. Have a great day!

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Why do you post other people's personal information when you know it is false? Blog etiquette = Fail!

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

You really enjoy pulling worthless turds out of your rectum, don't you?

Ice Pick
Ice Pick

HB10-1284 has legitimized the industry.  There are currently ~500 MMC's around Colorado serving nearly 100,000 patients with ailments from Cancer to Nerve Damage. Not only that HB10-1284 has had a DIRECT effect on driving the price of marijuana from $600 per ounce to $150 per ounce and the price is STILL DECLINING! Vote YES on A 64

Ice Pick
Ice Pick

OMG this is the most lame attempt yet.  None of what Pot Clown said above is true, it's all designed to scare people into voting against A64.  Most dispensaries don't even have bank accounts.

Ice Pick
Ice Pick

why keep it under 99?  the feds are not coming to bust mmc's.

Ice Pick
Ice Pick

You =  Greg Middlesworth 2710 Thomes Ave Ste 1462Cheyenne, WY 82001

imahead
imahead

Donkey Hotay  = happy troll. Let him roll around in his own filth.grow yer own and keep it under 99

Newton Dental
Newton Dental

Lawfully compliant are logical every time.  

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