Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Woman to fight medical marijuana felony charges

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2011 at 4:04 PM

Elisa Kappelmann
  • Elisa Kappelmann

The Beacon Street raids of last May shook a community still getting its feed underneath it. House Bill 1284, the state's first attempt to regulate its medical marijuana industry, had just passed the Colorado legislature and folks in the MMJ world were looking at what to do next (a position everyone's still faced with, nicely enough).

Then it came out, later, that the county had spent a grip of money to contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to have a heat-imaging plane fly out of Montana to scan a building that officers on the ground had already confirmed held marijuana.

Later, after we kept a running countdown of how long District Attorney Dan May's office had waited to arrest or charge the raided growers, the police did just that and all went to court.

Four of the seven charged have thus far have agreed to plea bargains with the DA's office, but not Elisa Kappelmann, a 51-year-old former corporate trainer with Hewlett-Packard who has been charged with two felonies and will go to trial on July 25, the first of the group to bring her case to trial, and one of the first MMJ-related trial cases in El Paso County.

We spoke with both her and her attorney Rob Corry; look for more from our conversation with the co-owner of Southern Colorado Medical Marijuana in tomorrow's Independent. In the meantime, here's more from the noted Denver attorney.

Rob Corry
  • Rob Corry

"Ms. Kappelmann has ample coverage as far as the amount of patients she was working with and the amount of medicine she had. And not just paperwork, but patients who are going to show up and testify live, in court, under-oath, that she’s their caregiver. I mean, she’s clearly not making this up after the fact. She did everything possible that she could to be legal both under local ordinances and under state law. She filed all the appropriate applications; she was properly zoned; and this was a regulated, legal enterprise. And probably most importantly, there is zero evidence of any distribution whatsoever outside of medical use, which would be the typical criminal case they could bring, if they had a sale to somebody who was not a patient. But they don’t have that here."

"Well, I think the evidence against her is weak to nonexistent, and the documentation in her favor is substantial. The DA’s kind of hung-up on this mentality that a physician’s recommendation plus application paperwork is not enough; that a person has to have a state-issued registry card in order to be legitimate, and that’s just simply not the case. That’s not what the constitution says, and it’s also not the reality, because there was a massive delay during the time period of 10 months or more; as far as the time the state of Colorado medical marijuana registry took to issue the registry card, it took months. So people couldn’t expect to get their registry card, if at all, in a timely manner."

"He clearly has a personal vendetta against medical marijuana. I’m sure you’re aware he had a medical marijuana shop in his neighborhood and then tried to eliminate it, and he now says that he was acting in his own personal capacity; I have no idea what that means. I think if you’re the DA, you’re the DA — you don’t shed the mantle at 5 p.m. when you go home. So that shows yet another instance of this institutional prejudice against medical marijuana.

"And then you see him traveling all the up to Denver to testify in front of the state legislature on numerous occasions ... I mean, it’s just strange that a prosecutor in a relatively major jurisdiction, a pretty well-populated area, would care so much about a plant, when there’s crime left and right throughout El Paso County, and every time I go to court down there, they’re jam-packed.

"It’s bizarre — I don’t understand it. Because we don’t get the same level of hostility from say, the Denver district attorney. Even some of the suburban counties, they have less of an agenda against it. Even, say, Carol Chambers in Arapahoe County, tends to do the right thing more often than not and she doesn’t seek out this as a political issue. You don’t see it in JeffCo; certainly not in Boulder; Denver could care less about it, really — I mean there are a couple exceptions. But El Paso [prosecutors] seem like an outlier as far as [their] attitude about medical marijuana."

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