Equipment likely returned

Marijuana-growing supplies may go back to Hayden resident

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Marijuana-growing equipment that was seized during a police search likely will be returned to a Hayden resident by next Tuesday.

But whether the 2 ounces of marijuana and seeds that also were seized from the man who uses the drug for medicinal purposes will be returned remains to be seen, officials from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said.

Routt County Judge James Garrecht ruled earlier this month that the drugs and equipment should be returned to 57-year-old Don Nord by Dec. 29. The ruling had to account for conflicting state and federal rules. According to state law, marijuana can be grown and used by people with certain medical conditions. But under federal law, the drug is illegal.

On Thursday, the DEA decided to return the growing equipment to a state officer, Denver-based DEA spokesman Dan Reuter said.

The assumption is that the state officer, who could be an official with the Hayden Police Department or GRAMNET, the Grand, Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team, will then return the equipment to Nord, Reuter said.

GRAMNET, a federal task force made up of local officers, conducted the search of Nord's home in mid-October.

The marijuana, Reuter said, will be destroyed.

"That decision was made at the outset," Reuter said. "It was never the DEA's intention to return the marijuana."

Attorney Kristopher Hammond, who is representing Nord, said he was under the impression that the Drug Enforcement Administration had decided to comply with the judge's orders and return everything -- including the marijuana -- during a scheduled meeting at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"My understanding is they're going to comply with the court order," Hammond said.

"Either they comply with it, or they don't comply with it. Returning some of (the property) isn't complying with the court order."

If the administration chose to destroy the marijuana and didn't comply with the order, Hammon said, "We're going to try to make them."

After Colorado voters approved medicinal marijuana use in 2000, the state became one of nine to legalize medicinal marijuana.

Nord, who has battled kidney cancer, diabetes, a lung disease and other illnesses, is registered with the state's Medical Marijuana Registry.

After the search, Nord was issued a citation for the possession of between 1 and 8 ounces of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Those charges were dismissed, Garrecht said, because the citation was filed late.

Nord had more than the state-mandated limit of 2 ounces of usable drug, officers said, which put him out of compliance with the state rule.

The case could be appealed or sent to a federal court if the administration and other federal agencies decide to take it further.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203 or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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