Last Friday, medical marijuana caretaker Kaleb Young, in the company of attorneys Rob Corry and Travis Simpson, retrieved a pickup-truck full of marijuana and equipment from the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.
Thus ended a fourteen-month legal odyssey that began with a SWAT team bust and ended with a jury acquitting Young of felony charges even though he didn't have an MMJ registry card at the time of his arrest.
According to Corry, Young, a 33-year-old Timnath resident, served as a caretaker for multiple patients -- prosecutors only acknowledged five due to restriction in the state's MMJ regulations, Corry says there were more -- and had a doctor's recommendation for fifty plants. However, his application for a red card was in limbo through much of 2010 because, at that time, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was many months behind in processing the paperwork.
In the meantime, various law enforcement agencies had their eye on him. "They started looking at his residence that June" he says. "Multiple police officers went over there, made observations, pulled power records. They spent hundreds of hours working this up. It was ridiculous."
Then, in September, officers raided Young's home, and they came in force. Says Corry, "They had eighteen SWAT-level officers wearing battle dress uniforms, many of them carrying assault rifles. They ripped Kaleb out of his house with guns drawn -- this for a guy who had no criminal record -- and did the same thing to his mother."
To their presumed chagrin, the cops found "nothing" at Young's home, Corry allows. But a warehouse space contained "a small grow -- fifty plants, some of them dying, cared for by an amateur grower with piles of documentation."
What he lacked, of course, was a red card, which may have inspired his prosecution "to the fullest extent of the law," Corry says. "They charged him with three felony counts: cultivation, possession with intent to distribute, and possession of over eight ounces, which was felony level at that time. And they never made a reasonable offer to settle the case. They insisted on a felony, and there's no way I'd let a client in that situation take a felony."
As a result, the case dragged on for more than a year before Young came out on top. Still, it wasn't a slam dunk. "I think the jury was ambivalent," Corry concedes. "They wrote a note saying they're concerned about how some people can game the system. But the not guilty verdict speaks louder."
Hence the trip Young, Corry and Simpson took to the Larimer County Sheriff's Office on Friday. Corry says some of the plants they retrieved were still alive, but many weren't. Even so, Young should be able to start over -- and now he has a couple of things he didn't just over a year ago.
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A red card. And confirmation that keeping all your paperwork is a really good idea.
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