Off come the gloves
Several of the seven growers charged in the Beacon Street raids of May 2010 have agreed to plea-bargains with District Attorney Dan May's office. Elisa Kappelmann is not one of them, and on July 25 she and an unnamed co-defendant will be the first to challenge the charges in front of a jury, and one of the first to take an MMJ-related case to trial in El Paso County.
"We were legal," says Kappelmann, 51, when I sat down with her in her center last week, noting she's on her second lawyer and has $20,000 in defense fees. "We had all the records to cover that. The name of our business is Southern Colorado Medical Marijuana — do you think there was marijuana in there?"
Kappelmann, who runs the center with her partner Don McKay, is charged with felony possession, felony cultivation and possession of a marijuana concentrate. In addition to alleging the building's independent growers were colluding, the DA's case is built around the lack of red cards in the pair's possession; this despite the fact that Colorado was backlogged and not issuing registry cards, using instead a patient's proof of mailing their application, and a signed doctor's recommendation.
Not that the raiding police were interested in collecting exculpatory evidence to begin with, says Kappelmann.
"They didn't take the records," she says, noting they also did not appear on the provided manifest of seized evidence. "They didn't even find all the records. I had a file cabinet sitting on a table in plain sight, and it's bright pink and full of patient records, and they didn't even find that."
Looking at the deal offered by the DA's office, it's not hard to see why she'd take her chances in front of the 12-person jury: a three-year deferred felony sentence, 120 hours of community service, probation, a $2,000 fine and she could never use or work with medical marijuana again.
A weird offer, says her attorney Rob Corry: "That's just strange," he says. "I've never seen it, even in a marijuana case — and I've done hundreds of them. It reveals a sort of ingrained prejudice against medical marijuana in the district attorney's office. It's troubling."
Just a note for the good people: In this issue you should find a copy of ReLeaf, our quarterly guide to all things medical marijuana in Colorado Springs. But should it be missing, feel free to request one in our offices at 235 S. Nevada Ave., or find it online at csindy.com.
Also, next week find more in this space about centers not included in this issue of ReLeaf, like Pain Management Solutions (1022 S. Royer St., pmsmedicalmarijuana.com).
Send MMJ news to firstname.lastname@example.org.