In one week, Don Nord will be in Washington, D.C., promoting a cause dear to him.
He will be handing out posters and T-shirts with a marijuana leaf illustration that read, "Guys, let's not bust cancer patients," and talking with people about his experience as a registered medicinal marijuana user embroiled in a legal battle with law enforcement.
Nord has never been to Washington, D.C., but after becoming the center of a medicinal marijuana controversy involving conflicting state and federal laws, he's getting the chance to go.
Nord and his attorney, Kristopher Hammond, have been invited to the annual conference for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Hammond is one of 25 speakers and will be part of a panel called "The Federal Assault on Marijuana Smokers."
Colorado law allows the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes but federal law does not. Nord, a registered medical marijuana user who lives in Hayden and has struggled with cancer, diabetes and other illnesses, has brought charges against officers from GRAMNET, the Grand, Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team, who seized his marijuana last fall and did not return it.
The case is now in U.S. District Court, where it is awaiting a decision from District Judge Walker Miller, and could go to the U.S. Supreme Court, Hammond has said.
For now, Nord said he's just happy to see the nation's capital by means of the conference.
"To me, it's very important to go there for the cause of medical marijuana and to have other people listen to what has happened," Nord said.
He also is hoping to gather more public support to fund his attorney's fees and travel expenses.
"We'd like to see more people interested in this," Nord said. "Everybody has voiced their opinion but hasn't come through as far as helping with the legal fees. I need help with that. I'm not doing this for me, I'm doing it for all of us."
Hammond and Nord were invited to attend the conference about a month ago and received a $400 grant for travel expenses.
Other speakers include lawyer Randy Barnett, council in the recent federal case involving medicinal marijuana, and Eric Schlosser, author of "Fast Food Nation" and "Reefer Madness."
The conference could bring publicity that could help Nord in his fight, Hammond said.
"The legal case is one thing, but if you can win the war, you need to use everything at your disposal," Hammond said. "I don't really care how the war is won. If we win because a senator or representative steps in and makes it right, hey that's great."
Hammond said that he hoped the publicity could provide support for Nord, who cannot afford the case's expenses on his fixed income.
"People who will be there are already on Don's side, even if they've never heard of Don," Hammond said. "And we might meet some people who want to help."
Nord has resolved that even if the help doesn't come through, he's going to take the case as far as he can.
"It's going to keep going," Nord said. "I made up my mind no matter what, we're gonna go."
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