Drug Law

Denver Couple Busted for Child Abuse for Growing Pot

| by NORML
By "Radical" Russ Belville

{Denver – Cannabis Therapy Institute}– Parents of legal grow operations can be charged with felony child abuse under current Colorado law, according to the Denver District Attorney. In June, Denver DA Mitchell R. Morrissey filed felony child abuse charges against parents Joseph Lightfoot (30) and Amber Wildenstein (29) for legally cultivating medical cannabis in the basement of the house that they lived in with their three children. Joseph and Amber were arrested and forced to post $50,000 bond each to get out of jail. They have a preliminary hearing set for Aug. 24 in Denver District Court.

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According to the DA’s press release, the couple had been operating a “licensed marijuana growing operation” in their house when police were called to investigate a domestic disturbance. When they arrived, the police reported that there was no crime being committed, but discovered a medical cannabis garden in the basement. The cultivation area was legal under state law, and the police did not confiscate any of the plants or medicine. However, days later they came back to serve arrest warrants on Joseph and Amber for felony child abuse and to take the kids.

According to the DA’s press release, “Colorado Revised Statute 18-6-401 states in part that a person commits child abuse, if, in the presence of a child, or on the premises where a child is found, or where a child resides… the person knowingly engages in the manufacture or attempted manufacture of a controlled substance.”

It boggles the mind that any servant of the law would believe that after the people voted to protect the rights of patients in the Constitution, a decade later the people believe the patients exercising those rights are abusing their children by doing so and deserve felony prosecution.

But it once again illustrates the stark fact that medical marijuana is not legalization.  This absurd loophole the Denver DA has exploited exists only because the marijuana itself is criminal – a “controlled substance” – and he is sworn to go after criminals.  Patients are never truly protected so long as they are merely exempted from criminal prosecution for medical use and cultivation, because as this and so many other cases prove, those exemptions seem to have a lot of exceptions.

Obviously, cultivating a house plant is in no conceivable way “child abuse”.  The only possible argument could be that growing legal medical marijuana subjects the home to the potential home invasion, but even that stands only as an indictment of the marijuana prohibition.  By this logic, openly displaying wealth would be child abuse, since that too would provide incentive for home invasion.  So would keeping large supplies of certain prescription medications.