Man says meth use was medicinal

Judge hands out two-year prison sentence on possession charge


— A 44-year-old Steamboat Springs man who said he was using methamphetamine to relieve pain from a back injury was sentenced Wednesday to two years in prison.

Alberto Osuna Valdez was arrested in August after police officers pulled the man over for driving with a broken windshield and driving without a driver's license and insurance. While searching the man's 1996 Ford Explorer, officers found three separate plastic bags of meth wrapped in aluminum foil and tucked in the car's jack compartment.

Police reports indicate each bag weighed about a little more than an ounce. Police also found a fourth bag of meth at the man's home when they searched it a day after Osuna Valdez was arrested. The four bags weighed a total of 3 ounces.

Osuna Valdez was charged with possession with the intent to distribute, a Class 3 felony, but he accepted a plea offer from the District Attorney's Office that reduced the charge. He pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of more than 1 ounce of a Schedule 2 controlled substance, a Class 4 felony. As part of the plea, six traffic charges Osuna Valdez faced were dropped.

In court Wednesday, District Judge Paul McLimans sentenced Osuna Valdez to two years in prison and gave him 189 days of credit for time spent in the Routt County Jail. In addition, Osuna Valdez was ordered to pay almost $2,000 in drug and court costs.

The man's attorney, Larry Combs, told McLimans that Osuna Valdez was not a drug dealer or a habitual drug user, and that Osuna Valdez was using the drug to relieve the pain of a previous back injury because he does not have medical insurance to cover prescription painkillers.

"This man was without in----surance, without the ability to work. He was using the meth because of the (back injury). It was self medication," Combs said.

Osuna Valdez was arrested in August after he had returned from a trip to Craig where he purchased the 3 ounces of meth to "stock up for the winter."

However, McLimans told Combs that possessing 3 ounces of a Schedule 2 controlled substance is not a trite offense, even if the man was "self medicating."

"I am sympathetic to your pain, Mr. Osuna Valdez, but it's not an excuse to possess 3 ounces of meth," he said.

-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail


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