Denver: Woman appeals pot verdict, says it was medical
DENVER – A woman who claims she was a medical marijuana provider to clients she never met is appealing her conviction on drug charges, saying she wants another trial to prove she’s not a criminal.
Attorneys for Stacy Clendenin presented arguments on her behalf Tuesday at the Colorado Court of Appeals, in a courtroom that was packed with about 60 spectators.
“I hope they’ll allow me to have a new trial and prove that I’m not a drug dealer,” Clendenin said after the hearing.
Medical marijuana use is legal in Colorado, but municipalities have been struggling recently to come up with regulations for dispensaries as the number of registered users in the state continues to increase. Colorado doesn’t license or regulate dispensaries.
Clendenin was convicted in Boulder County of charges that included cultivation of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute. She was sentenced on February 2008 to one year of unsupervised probation and 48 hours of community service.
Prosecutors argue that someone who doesn’t have personal contact with clients cannot be their medical marijuana provider.
Authorities found 44 marijuana plants when they searched Clendenin’s Longmont home on October 2006. She came to their attention after someone told them a lot of people came in and out of her house. Investigators also found three marijuana stalks in a garbage bin in front of her home.
Clendenin claims a lower court wrongly prevented her clients from testifying that she was their provider through a cooperative she supplied.
“She would’ve brought on about a dozen witnesses who would’ve testified that she was growing medical marijuana for their benefit,” said Robert Corry, Clendenin’s attorney. “So the jury was deprived of the complete picture.”
Corry said it could be months before the Appeals Court reaches a decision.
Colorado voters legalized marijuana use and cultivation for medicinal purposes in 2000. Thirteen other states, including California, Washington and Rhode Island, have also legalized the drug for medical use.
John Lee, a Colorado assistant attorney general, said there needs to be more direct contact between a medical marijuana provider and a registered user.
“When the voters passed it, they probably thought it was someone who was providing direct care to the patient, someone who does more than just cultivation,” he said.
Clendenin, a waitress and registered medical marijuana user, said she uses the drug for migraines. She said all the people she supplied also were registered users.
About 10,000 people in Colorado use medical marijuana. There are about 60 medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, but some municipalities, including Durango, Silverthorne and Northglenn, have frozen the permit applications for new businesses until they craft rules for them.
The state health department proposed limiting medical marijuana suppliers to helping only five patients at a time, but the state health board rejected the idea in July. The decision allowed dispensaries to continue.