Medical marijuana case continues in court

NEW ULM – A Mankato attorney representing a New Ulm man charged with growing and selling marijuana threw yet another curve ball in the case at a scheduling hearing Tuesday in Brown County District Court.

Calvin Johnson asked the Court if he can use an Echo Smartpen at proposed three-hour contested omnibus hearings set for Aug. 6 and Aug. 21-22 in a criminal case involving three counts of felony controlled substance sale and possession and petty misdemeanor drug paraphernalia possession facing Jon Hansen II, 33, of New Ulm.

“With an Echo Smartpen, I can record everything that happens and transpose it (digitally) to a computer. I think they’ll (eventually) be used in the court system,” Johnson said.

New Ulm attorney George Kennedy of the Brown County Attorney’s Office opposed the request, citing Minnesota General Court Rule of Practice 4.02.

Judge Robert Docherty took the request and Johnson’s other requests including a motion to dismiss, under advisement.

Johnson also requested the use of ITVs (interactive television) in the upcoming omnibus hearing because his client, Hansen, isn’t wealthy enough to pay transportation costs of witnesses traveling to Minnesota or they don’t want to or are not able to travel to New Ulm to testify.

Johnson and Mankato attorney Elizabeth M. Levine said in a press release last month that Hansen is “fighting for his personal, individual right to use (marijuana) as an effective remedy to treat his unmitigated and enduring anxiety. … Through using marijuana, Jon gains benefits which he does not gain by other means” read the release.

The attorneys claim the State of Minnesota is wrong to classify marijuana as a Schedule I drug, a classification they say is reserved for drugs that have no accepted medical value.

A court memorandum supporting Johnson’s motions to dismiss filed Tuesday, read that New Ulm Police obtained a warrant and raided Hansen’s (2201 N. Broadway) home on Feb. 1, 2014, confiscated several cannabis plants and growing materials in the home and charged Hansen with selling marijuana, aka cannabis, even though he didn’t sell any cannabis.

Hansen told police he was perfecting the craft of growing marijuana to get ahead of the game when Minnesota legalizes it. Police raided his home after receiving a tip about an active marijuana-growing operation in Traulich Estates and that Hansen may be in charge of it, according to court documents.

Police went to Hansen’s home, smelled a strong marijuana odor coming from the east side of it, got a search warrant signed by a judge and went to the residence with Brown-Lyon-Redwood-Renville Drug Task Force members. Officers knocked on the door, heard arguing inside, Hansen came to the door and was handcuffed, along with a female inside the home, according to court documents.

Police collected and photographed marijuana plants and weighed about 90 grams of harvested marijuana in the residence.

Hansen was charged Feb. 4 with felony 4th degree controlled substance sale in park zone, felony 5th degree controlled substance sale, felony 5th degree controlled substance possession and petty misdemeanor drug paraphernalia possession.

The memorandum stated that by charging Hansen “under this irrational, discriminatory” statute, the State has deprived Hansen and the People of Minnesota of an age-old, highly-nutritious, and useful crop, and a viable, irreplaceable health care option.

“The State is impermissibly intruding on Hansen’s fundamental rights, and this Court should dismiss the charges and order the return of Hansen’s property,” the memo read.

The memo listed the preliminary issues as:

The Ninth and Tenth Amendments afford substantive protection for the unenumerated rights retained by the people.

Minnesota’s Farmers Amendment provides constitutional protection for farmers and gardeners.

Doctrines of Statutory construction support a finding that Minnesota has removed cannabis from Schedule I.

The government is acting contrary to the security, benefit and protection of the people.

The constitutionality of state infringement on a retained right is determined under a due process analysis.

The State’s cannabis ban violates Hansen’s right to enjoy equal protection of the laws.

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