Hayden's Don Nord protecting his rights
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Steamboat Springs Don Nord grew and harvested three marijuana plants last fall to help ease the pain brought on by the numerous medical conditions from which he suffers.
Nord has been an active medical marijuana proponent for many years, but he's disappointed with the legal defense of Aurora man Kevin Dickes, 38, who was arrested April 27 after police said they seized 71 marijuana plants from his home. Dickes, a former Marine, is now challenging the state's medical marijuana law, specifically as it relates to how many plants a patient can cultivate.
Nord, who suffers from ongoing complications from kidney cancer, prostrate operations, foot ailments and other medical conditions that require him to use supplemental oxygen to help him breathe, said Dickes' appeal could harm the medical marijuana movement.
"The thing is, 71 plants is a little bit overboard, and he's hurting everybody else who is obeying the law," Nord said. "If I'd have six plants going, I'd have my quota for the year."
A dozen states allow medical marijuana use for chronically ill patients. Under Colorado's medical marijuana law, approved by voters in 2000, patients under a doctor's care who get a medical marijuana card may legally possess up to 2 ounces of pot or six plants.
However, two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal government's authority to prosecute medical marijuana uses regardless of state laws.
Dickes, who faces up to six years in prison if convicted of marijuana cultivation, says marijuana helps ease the pain in his right leg - the result of a grenade injury suffered in 1991 while serving in Kuwait.
His lawyer, Robert Corry Jr., argues there is no limit to the number of plants a person may cultivate for use as long as they are "medically necessary."
Nord's not buying it.
"Don't come in and start messing around and ruining things for everybody else," said Nord, who has been smoking marijuana for medicinal purposes for more than two decades and has a state permit to legally grow pot in his Hayden home.
"I have the law right here - six plants, three in budding stage and three in vegetation," he said Monday. "What's he going to challenge? He's not going to change the law. When someone goes overboard with the state medical marijuana law, the state Legislature can just decide to overturn it."
Mason Tvert, executive director of the Colorado-based nonprofit group Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, said any law that prevents sick people from using medical marijuana is "insane."
"I think if the person is using marijuana for solely medical reasons, then it shouldn't matter how much he has," Tvert said.
In Nord's upstairs bedroom, three marijuana plants are growing among an array of grow lights, pots and Miracle-Gro. Because of his ailments and time spent in and out of the hospital, Nord said he was unable to cultivate enough marijuana to supply him through the summer.
"I'm going to be without (marijuana) for a few months as these grow," he said. "But the law seems to be doing OK for me. I don't care if (Dickes) was in Desert Storm. He has no right to grow 71 plants. If he has the license, then he needs to obey the rules."
According to the state, Dickes is one of about 1,300 holders of medical marijuana cards in Colorado.
"Eventually, if we all did this, we are going to ruin our chances for a medical marijuana license," Nord said. "People will think it's all just a joke and an excuse to get high."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.