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Green Weed, Red Tape and The Man


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Source: Denver Post (CO)
Author: David Harsanyi, Denver Post Columnist
Published: Thursday, March 10, 2005
Copyright: 2005 The Denver Post Corp
Contact: [email protected]

The last time I visited with Thomas Lawrence and the Colorado Compassion Club, they were busy resuscitating an operation decimated by an unwarranted DEA raid.

Impressed by these mad pot agriculturists, crossbreeding strains of cannabis under artificial lights in their basement, I decided to keep an eye on them.

Trust me, you would have been impressed, too. Lawrence attacked his cannabis enhancement with a cerebral vigor typically associated with the likes of Stephen Hawking.

Admittedly, at a radically slower pace.

I proceed with this disclaimer: Please, don't try this at home. Growing "Himalayan Gold" or "Purple Haze" isn't a frivolous pursuit.

Leave it to the professionals.

And CCC members are pros.

Since Colorado voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing medical use of marijuana in 2000, the club's membership has grown to almost 70 patients. It sustains its business operation purely through donations.

Legitimately assisting many patients in serious pain, the club has an impressive array of products, which now include salad dressing, peanut butter, fudge and the classic brownie.

Now our improbable hero, the Mr. Magoo of cannabis, has inadvertently struck another blow in the fight for medicinal marijuana freedom.

It began when Lawrence was pulled over while driving in January with some improper tags on his license plates.

Our man also happened to have in his possession a heaping bag of "medicine" (to be more specific, "Kahuna Salad" - a medley of five strains of marijuana), which the apprehending cops, as you can imagine, were a bit skeptical about.

And who could blame them?

"I told them it was medicine," explains Lawrence. I'm sure the police hadn't exactly heard that one before.

Lawrence, who, predictably, had forgotten his caregiver paperwork at home, had some difficulty persuading the officers of his altruistic intentions.

As a result, both he and his medicine were hauled down to the station.

Even though the club had recently harvested some supreme "Bubble Funk" and "Shishkaberry Dutch Treat," Lawrence and his wife, Larissa, could hardly afford to lose an ounce of prime "Kahuna Salad" to The Man.

So in early February, Lawrence appeared at the police station with a court order and asked the police to return his medicine.

You can theorize, I suppose, that an individual who is possibly naive - or undoubtedly stoned - might believe the police would instantly and without question return an ounce of marijuana.

But a clear-headed individual might realize that cops aren't in the habit of handing illegal hemp over to wiseguys with oversized bongs readied for fire at home.

There was a paperwork problem and a lot of futile waiting at the station. The property disposition was not in order.

One cop told Lawrence that there "was no way he was ever getting that back."

"But I have a court order," Lawrence replied over the phone to the property manager. "All you have to do is read the law."

When a cop finally came to the lobby, he yelled. "Where's that guy Thomas looking for his marijuana?"

After some contentious discussion, Lawrence again left empty-handed.

Last Thursday, however, with his lawyer and wife in tow, Lawrence returned with the proper paperwork to reclaim his ounce of "Kahuna Salad." This time, the return went down smoothly.

According to the Denver Police Department, this was the first time illicit drugs had ever been returned in the city.

"I couldn't keep the smile off my face," says Lawrence.

But the department's Sgt. Teresa Garcia does have some advice.

"Please: If you're transporting marijuana or you have a prescription to use it, bring some proof with you."

There's nothing like a happy ending.

David Harsanyi's column appears Monday and Thursday.

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