US Marijuana Party

Friday, July 22, 2005

Judge: Agents don't have to return confiscated drugs

DENVER (AP) -- A federal judge ruled Wednesday that six federal law-enforcement officers cannot be held in contempt for refusing to return marijuana to a man who has a state-issued medical-use permit for the drug.

Donald Nord, of Hayden, asked the Routt County Court to hold the officers in criminal contempt until they gave him the marijuana and smoking pipes that were confiscated from his home in a federal drug raid in October 2004.

Nord had a Colorado medical marijuana registry card, which authorized him to posses two ounces of marijuana under state law. A federal drug task force raided the home, but no federal charges have been filed against him. The Routt County Court ordered all items returned to Nord.

When the Drug Enforcement Administration agents refused to do so, Nord sought contempt proceedings. The agents responded by asking the U.S. District Court to dismiss the criminal citation.

Federal Judge Walker Miller ruled that the local court did not have jurisdiction to hold the agents in contempt, because they qualified for federal immunity.

A federal officer is immune from state prosecution if the agent was "performing an act which he was authorized to do by the law of the United States" and "did no more than what was necessary and proper for him to do," according to the judge's ruling.

Refusing to return the marijuana and the pipes is consistent with federal law, Miller said in his ruling.

"I find that (the agents) were performing acts that were authorized or that they reasonably believed were authorized by valid federal law," Miller stated in the ruling.


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