Mesa County judge upholds homemade hash oil ban
Siding with arguments by Attorney General John Suthers’ office, a Mesa County judge Wednesday refused to strike down a state law in a fight over home making of marijuana hash oil.
District Judge Richard Gurley issued a one-sentence order denying a motion in the case against 70-year-old Grand Junction resident Eugene Christenson, which asked the judge to rule unconstitutional Colorado’s statute on unlawful manufacturing of marijuana concentrate.
The judge’s order cited “reasons stated by the Attorney General’s Office” for denying the motion, offering no further comment.
Gordon Gallagher, Christenson’s attorney, declined comment on the decision.
Suthers’ office filed briefs in Christenson’s case, and a similar dispute pending before a Denver County judge, arguing Amendment 64 didn’t immunize people from prosecution for making hash oil in their homes. Hash oil is the byproduct of extracting THC from marijuana plants with butane. The method has been blamed for numerous explosions in Colorado.
In interpreting Colorado’s constitution, judges must consider whether interpretation of a law leads to “absurd results,” Suthers’ lawyers argued.
“The defendant agrees that his actions resulted in an explosion, injuries, damage and potentially put others in danger,” a filing reads. “He nevertheless insists that the voters created a constitutional right protecting butane-fueled explosions in kitchens and garages throughout the state. However, this court should reject the defendant’s interpretation because the voters would not have understood the amendment to authorize such irresponsible and dangerous use.”
Christenson has pleaded not guilty to arson and reckless endangerment stemming from a March 2014 explosion at his home while making hash oil. Christenson isn’t accused of possessing more marijuana than Colorado law allows, Gallagher noted.
“The clear and unmistakable language of the Colorado Constitution is that it is legal in Colorado to process marijuana and marijuana concentrate and that such actions shall not be criminal offenses,” Gallagher wrote in his motion.
Christenson’s case is scheduled for trial in February.