Eli Traufield's Facebook photo gallery alternates sexy shots like this one with family pics featuring his son. But most of the posts tout the healing abilities of marijuana -- appropriate given that he's listed as an owner of Fort COllins ORganics and Earthly Elements, a dispensary. Problem is, Earthly Elements is no longer open -- a fact that appears to have grabbed the attention of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, which participated in a bust of Traufield that included serious charges and the seizure of 350 plants and more than 61 pounds of pot. Details and more below.
The Facebook link to Earthly Elements take surfers to a placeholder page, while most online references to the business reference a Fort Collins address on Elizabeth Street, not the 1324 North College Avenue location where the operation was set to move. Here's an interactive graphic of the building in question, on the left; if you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."
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According to the Fort Collins Coloradoan, Earthly Elements was slated to move from its Elizabeth Street digs to College due to zoning regulations circa 2011. But later that year, Fort Collins voters prohibited dispensaries entirely effective on Valentine's Day 2012. The next November, Fort Collins reversed its ban, and since then, a number of medical marijuana centers have reopened -- but not Earthly Elements. And even before then, Traufield and Derek Golden, previously listed as the dispensary's owner, had already run afoul of the law.
The Coloradoan reports that Traufield and Golden were targeted in 2010 regarding marijuana possession following an investigation by the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.
Traufield pleaded guilty the following year to growing thirty or more pot plans and possession six-to-twelve ounces of weeds -- a felony and a misdemeanor, respectively. He received seven days in jail, 160 hours of community service and a deferred sentence that isn't set to expire until this November -- meaning that his current arrest appears to violate that accord. And as a convicted felon, he's precluded from owning a dispensary under Colorado law.
Golden pleaded guilty to possessing six-to-twelve ounces of marijuana, too, and received a year's probation.
Nonetheless, Traufield remains a public booster of MMJ. Here's an image from his Facebook page....
...and here's another, shared on August 6 along with a note reading, "Howdy, from Northern California:"
Such graphics are accompanied by posts like this one: "Harvard University scientists reported that THC slows tumor growth in common lung cancer and "significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread." What's more, like a heat-seeking missile, THC selectively targets and destroys tumor cells while leaving healthy cells unscathed. Conventional chemotherapy drugs, by contrast, are highly toxic; they indiscriminately damage the brain and body."
Such claims don't appear to have much impact on the DEA; while medical marijuana is legal in Colorado, it remains forbidden at the federal level. As such, the agency, working with the Northern Colorado Drug Task Force, drew a bead on Traufield again.
An affidavit cited by the Coloradoan maintains that an investigation into Traufield was launched this past October, with an undercover detective subsequently buying a pound of marijuana from him for $2,600. The exchange is said to have taken place in the parking lot of a Walmart, with Traufield advising the man to hide the pot in his trunk -- a suggestion held out as evidence that the sale wasn't a lawful medical marijuana transaction.
The 1324 North College address was later raided. Inside were the aforementioned 350 or so plants and 61.5 pounds of pot.
Interestingly, though, this material was confiscated last fall, but Traufield wasn't cuffed until this past Thursday.
Why the wait? That question hasn't been directly answered, leading to speculation that the back-and-forth nature of medical marijuana laws in Fort Collins may be puzzling even for law enforcement.
Tomorrow, Traufield is due in court; after being taken into custody, he was fitted with a $50,000 bond. The charges against him -- distributing less than five pounds of marijuana, cultivating thirty or more plans, and conspiracy involving five to 100 pounds of marijuana -- carry potential prison time up to six years.
Here's a larger look at Traufield's booking photo.
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More from our Marijuana archive circa November 2012: "Marijuana: Fort Collins voters overturn dispensary ban."