Conviction stands in marijuana-laced garlic butter case

The Colorado Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of a local man who brought marijuana-infused garlic butter inside Mesa County Community Corrections but wasn’t allowed at trial to present evidence of a doctor’s recommendation for its use.

Vincent J. Iversen, 29, who was arrested in the case in 2009, was convicted at trial on one count of attempted introduction of contraband into a detention facility and sentenced to four years probation, 90 days in jail and 600 hours of community service.

In a published opinion released last week, the Court of Appeals noted that Iversen, while in custody of Community Corrections, had fallen off a bunk bed and suffered a broken hip and back injuries. Iversen visited a doctor who issued a certificate recommending use of marijuana concentrate.

Iversen, who testified at trial he was driven by a staff member of Community Corrections, purchased pot-infused garlic butter from a former local dispensary, Nature’s Alternative. The butter jar was seized by Community Corrections staff.

The appeals court concluded Iversen shouldn’t have been allowed to make the purchase.

“A person was not eligible to get medical marijuana simply by receiving or signing a certificate; instead the person was required to fill out, and have notarized, an application for a medical marijuana registry identification card (which defendant had not done),” the opinion notes. “Although ‘there was supposed to be a 35 day waiting period,’ because the State was ‘approximately 70,000 applications behind’ in processing medical marijuana registry identification cards, the ‘norm of the day’ was to go straight to a dispensary once a person had a doctor’s certificate.”

Iversen wanted to argue at trial that he reasonably believed he could return with the pot butter, purchased, he thought, lawfully. District Judge Thomas Deister refused to allow the evidence.

The Court of Appeals concluded Deister was correct.

“We perceive no error in (Deister’s) exclusion of the evidence concerning defendant’s receipt of a medical marijuana certificate,” the court wrote. “That defendant did not know that it was unlawful for him to knowingly attempt to introduce marijuana into the detention facility was not a fact of consequence.”

Iversen argued during trial he was entrapped by corrections personnel, who approved the doctor’s visit and approved withdrawl of monies from his account to pay for the visit. Staff also personally escorted Iversen to and from the medical marijuana dispensary, his attorneys argued.

Prosecutors argued Iversen never volunteered to staff what he had purchased.

“Rather, it had been found in a search of defendant’s backpack, without defendant’s having told officials of its presence, despite ample opportunity to do so,” the opinion said.

The ruling could be appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.


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