by Lee, 11/26/2010, 5:34 PM

Just dumb:

OLYMPIA – A judge fined a wheelchair-bound Olympia man $4,000 Wednesday for growing 42 marijuana plants in his home, but he imposed no jail time.

A jury convicted William Kurtz, 58, in October of felony counts of possession of marijuana over 40 grams and manufacture of marijuana. He has no prior felony criminal history and uses the wheelchair because of a medical condition.

Before trial, Kurtz’s attorneys fought to be allowed to present a medicinal-marijuana defense to the jury, but Thurston County Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy did not allow it. Prosecutor Scott Jackson argued that Kurtz did not have a medicinal-marijuana card in March, when Thurston County Narcotics Task Force detectives found the plants, as well as more than 15 ounces of packaged marijuana, in his home in the 11800 block of Champion Drive Southwest.

At trial, Hiatt tried to introduce to the jury a letter from Kurtz’s doctor that describes Kurtz’s “hereditary spastic paraplegia” and his medical benefit from using marijuana.

The letter from the Olympia physician, Peter Taylor, was not allowed as evidence. It reads it part that Kurtz “has had progressive loss of function related to this familial neurologic condition which has left him wheelchair-bound and with severe tremors. Unfortunately, there is no treatment to prevent or cure this condition, and we are left to manage his symptoms, including chronic daily pain which is severe.”

Kurtz’s avoidance of jail time was the only silver lining in this mess. One Olympia-based medical marijuana activist I spoke to a few weeks back was fearing for Kurtz’s life if he were to be sent to jail.

Prosecutors really need to exercise better discretion on who we put through the criminal justice system. If Kurtz was caught selling his marijuana, that’s one thing, but he was quite obviously a medical marijuana patient. The proper course of action should have been to confiscate whatever plants were over the state limit and to give him a window of time to get a doctor’s authorization. Let’s reserve the court system for actual criminals.

37 Responses to “Fighting the Disabled”

1. manoftruth spews:

this is all bullshit. lee, you know i agree with you on the legalization of drugs. i do because the damage prohibition has done to society, in my opinion, is worse than what could happen if drugs are legalized. however, the medical marajuana arguement is used, maybe not by you, but by people as a type of red herring (maybe trojan horse is a better term) to get inroads on legalization. first, i dont like that type of manipulation. second, since when do we allow people to medicate themselves with controlled substances and prescribe their own dose. if marajuana can help, let the pharmaceuticals extract the substances that give relief and standardize it and control it. if not, i want to be able to get my medications own my own without a docs rx and prescribe my own dose.

2. drool spews:

I feel safer now.

3. drool spews:

Drunk judges pose more of a threat to society than this guy.

4. doggril spews:

Lee – Once the guy was arrested, did the system actually have the discretion that you wish they’d used? It’s usually the Right Wing wackos who rant about judges and prosecutors not having taken prerogatives they didn’t actually have; but your rant here kind of has that flavor. It would have been helpful information if you had been more clear that they actually had the option you criticize them for not having used.

5. Lee spews:

@4
Yes, in fact it happens all the time in King County. In this exact same situation, it’s extremely unlikely that Dan Satterberg would have followed through with a prosecution. In fact, I’ll be writing about one such case next week.

6. Liberal Scientist spews:

This poor fellow likely has little political juice – so there is no downside for an ambitious prosecutor to use him as one more “Law’n’Order” feather in his cap. There is really no downside to punching hippies.

We live in an unjust society when this happens and John Yoo walks free.

7. Roger Rabbit spews:

@4 Lee is right. Prosecutors have very broad discretion to prosecute or not, and their decisions are non-appealable. As a legal matter, the prosecutor could have easily decided not to press charges in this case, if he wanted to. As a practical matter, the fact police put time and effort into the investigation puts pressure on the prosecutor, who needs to get along with the police. So it’s really the cops who make the call most of the time.

8. Lee spews:

@1
however, the medical marajuana arguement is used, maybe not by you, but by people as a type of red herring (maybe trojan horse is a better term) to get inroads on legalization.

Medical marijuana laws came into existence because it was a politically possible way to protect a subset of marijuana users most in need of protection (the seriously ill who find it useful for their medical needs). It’s true that nearly everyone who pushes for medical marijuana laws favors legalization for recreational use as well (although some do not). That does not mean that it was a cynical attempt to get us closer to legalization.

second, since when do we allow people to medicate themselves with controlled substances and prescribe their own dose. if marajuana can help, let the pharmaceuticals extract the substances that give relief and standardize it and control it.

I’m all for that, but currently there is no pharmaceutical product available in the U.S. that works as well as the plant. In the U.K. and Canada, there’s a product called Sativex that apparently does work well, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it replaces medical marijuana in near future.

if not, i want to be able to get my medications own my own without a docs rx and prescribe my own dose.

I’m not opposed to this. Our current laws are set up in a way that protects people from themselves far more than they need to.

9. CC "Bud" Baxter spews:

The DEA seems to cranking up the police state lately. They even staged a mock battle with cannabis growers in Northern California. Willie Nelson was busted again. You would think in these trying times, these assholes would have something better to spend our taxes on. I mean seriously, we have real problems. A little cannabis is way down the list. I think the point is it is easy to bust for numerous reasons, not the least of which is drug smelling dogs, and the general passiveness of people who are smoking it. Also the unconstitutional urine tests make it difficult for many people to use it occasionally, which is literally driving people to alcohol, which is a way more deadly and toxic drug.

Add this to the TSA crap and slowly our right to privacy is evaporating into thin air.

10. Roger Rabbit spews:

@1 “however, the medical marajuana arguement is used, maybe not by you, but by people as a type of red herring (maybe trojan horse is a better term) to get inroads on legalization.”

Whether that’s true or not, it beggars the issue, which is that people are suffering and marijuana gives them relief, societal policies that deny them that relief because of ignorant cultural hangups over “hippies” and “drug use” are not only stupid but also cruel. And why in God’s name should medical marijuana be turned into another cash cow for big drug companies? Don’t they already make enough money from selling sex pills?

11. Liberal Scientist spews:

Don’t they already make enough money…

No. Never. Must have MORE.

12. Politically Incorrect spews:

I’m for total and absolute legalization now for marijuana. This Prohibition shit has gone on for far too long.

13. Right Stuff spews:

“did not have a medicinal-marijuana card”

Strike 1

“42 marijuana plants in his home”

Strike 2

“more than 15 ounces of packaged marijuana”

Strike 3

No sympathy here.

“has had progressive loss of function related to this familial neurologic condition which has left him wheelchair-bound and with severe tremors. Unfortunately, there is no treatment to prevent or cure this condition, and we are left to manage his symptoms, including chronic daily pain which is severe.”

So, He has an unfortunate circumstance no doubt. This case IMO is not a good medical marijuana defense case. In fact, I think it hurts the medical marijuana “cause”.
Why didn’t he have a medical marijuana card? Did his doctor forget to prescribe it? Plants don’t just “sprout” 15+ ounces of bud…That takes time and care.. This individual is healthy enought to farm marijuana for sale, but to debilitated to make sure he has all his medical “ducks in a row” with respect to medical marijuana usage, prescription, cards etc….

It appears that a drug dealer was busted, and after the fact, the defense tried to “use” the medical marijuana defense…to get him off…

IMO lots of pain management treatments better than MJ. Lots of disabled criminals, one less drug dealer “on the street”.

14. worf spews:

Maybe, if MOT got really, really stoned, his spelling would improve.

15. Lee spews:

@13
It appears that a drug dealer was busted

The cops didn’t charge him with selling it, nor did they have any evidence whatsoever for such a charge, so you’re making that up completely out of thin air.

16. Right Stuff spews:

The cops didn’t charge him with selling it

I wonder why? Aren’t MJ busts supposed to be low priority? Mayber the Prosecutors took pity on him.. who knows…

nor did they have any evidence whatsoever for such a charge

I have to call BS on that one.
15 ounces is 1 shy of A POUND!!!
Sorry, no one can make the case that any individual needs A POUND of marijuana for personal use….Let alone 42 plants.

so you’re making that up completely out of thin air.

Like I wrote, a pound of Dope (packaged in ounces)+ 42 plants = a grow operation for distribution…

IMO he got WAY more mercy than he deserved.

17. Right Stuff spews:

Lee,
I have written before (not that anyone would remember) that I believe MJ should be made legal. No reason for it not to be taxed and regulated….

That said, this case, IMO, is not a good example of a medical marijuana defense.

18. I am sparticus~! spews:

if all the folks who smoke pot
would be like Sparticus’ pals
step forward
admit it
say we like to get high
make the politicians who smoke pot step forward
admit it
say it’s not worse than Jim Beam
if the 100 million Americans who smoked pot would come out of the closet

then we’d get legalization.

You can’t bring about social change if your “victims” won’t even identify themselves.

It took gays decades to obtain basic acceptance, this was through the normal brainwashed segment of americans finally realizing that if their cousin susan is gay, um, no big deal, you know? cousing susan over ther in Fort Collins? Or Little Rock or Des Moines?

But the smokers of cannibis hide in the closet and don’t get it how the large swing vote in the middle of the nation can STILL believe pot is bad!

It’s because they don’t know that a third the people they know and trust are pot smokers!

You can’t reall call the question if your side is too afraid to step forward and be counted.

19. Mr. Cynical spews:

Lee-
Willie Nelson charged with pot possession in Texas!!
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101127/ap_on_re_us/us_nelson_marijuana

Too Damn Funny!
Are you gonna tell the folks in Texas what to do too Lee?

20. Lee spews:

@17
Saying “he has a lot” is not proof that he was selling it. People grow a lot in order to give themselves a long-term supply. And if people bake it into food, they need a lot more than what’s needed for someone who smokes it.

A disabled man growing 40 plants is not a threat to anyone. And it’s definitely not proof that he’s a drug dealer.

21. Lee spews:

@17
Not to mention, if he was a dealer, there are numerous ways to bust someone for that. Neither you nor the police have any evidence this guy was dealing. But seriously, do you think this was a good us of your tax payer money? Are you really worried about severely disabled wheelchair bound men like Kurtz?

22. Brenda Helverson spews:

Did he have 42 plants or did he have 42 MATURE plants? It’s possible that Mr. Kurtz needed 27 seedlings and plants in various stages of immaturity to achieve his legal limit of 15 mature plants. This number reportedly depends on his success at seed germination, the predicted rate of growth, and the expected number of male plants. As I understand it, these factors depend on the grower’s experience with his availably seeds and his particular growing setup.

Why couldn’t Mr. Kurtz present his legally-permitted affirmative defense? Was he allowed to show that he had a medical need for a greater supply as permitted under law? This one seems ripe for an appeal.

23. Bluecollar Libertarian spews:

@ 22 As I recall the judge refused to allow any mention of the medical issue in the case.

24. Puddybud identifying useless Moonbat!s since 2005 and identifying rujax as an arschloch and zotz as a fool! spews:

As I recall the judge refused to allow any mention of the medical issue in the case.

Was this a “progressive” judge?

25. Lee spews:

@22
Did he have 42 plants or did he have 42 MATURE plants?

He had 42 plants. I don’t know the stages of growth any of them were in, but could probably find out from people more familiar with the case.

26. Lee spews:

@19
Are you gonna tell the folks in Texas what to do too Lee?

Oh, I’m sure plenty of Texans will.

27. enough is enough spews:

just because someone is in a wheelchair doesnt mean they cant be a criminal.

talk about straw men…fuck.

28. enough is enough spews:

so if a disabled person gets drunk, goes for a drive, and then kills someone, they should be thrown in the slammer?

somebody must have been high to make these arguements lee….

29. Lee spews:

@28
so if a disabled person gets drunk, goes for a drive, and then kills someone, they should be thrown in the slammer?

Of course they should…because there’s a victim.

It’s called logic. Try it sometime.

30. enough is enough spews:

@29

no dummy..its called BREAKING THE LAW.

now, let me rephrase it for you in a more simplistic example that your pot-addled mind can understand:

lets pretend the drunk driving disabled person doesnt get into an accident, but is pulled over and convicted of drunk driving. dont you think that person needs some slammer time?

get it yet? FFS.

break the law, do the punishment like a man.

31. Lee spews:

@30
no dummy..its called BREAKING THE LAW.

Ok, so let’s say you’re on a city street and someone with a gun starts shooting. In order to escape, you run across the street. Technically, you BROKE THE LAW by jaywalking so I guess you should have to suffer the consequences.

If course, that’s an extreme example, but the point is very clear. Any reasonably intelligent human being should be able to figure out whether a certain act is something that deserves punishment from the state. Our justice system isn’t meant to be a system of “Gotcha!” where the objective is to lock up as many people as possible. The objective is to provide a framework where the overall liberty of individuals is protected. Within the context of the drug war, our justice system is a clear failure, and this case is just one of the millions of reasons.

lets pretend the drunk driving disabled person doesnt get into an accident, but is pulled over and convicted of drunk driving. dont you think that person needs some slammer time?

Actually no. I believe he should have his drivers license taken away. And then if he drives drunk without his drivers license, he should have the car confiscated and be permanently prevented from ever re-obtaining a drivers license or buying another car. I do not believe that anyone should be put in jail unless they committed a crime where there’s an actual victim.

get it yet? FFS.

Yes, I get that you’re an authoritarian moron who can’t tell the difference between victimless crimes and serious offenses.

break the law, do the punishment like a man.

Well, when you’re ready to take off your skirt and be a real man, you’ll actually work to repeal unjust laws with the rest of us. Until then, Sally, you can just sit around and twiddle your vagina.

32. enough is enough spews:

poor lee…more strawmen in there than a Wizard of Oz remake…

take another toke dude….

33. Lee spews:

@32
Wow, what a great rebuttal! Maybe one day you’ll figure out what a strawman is and you can stop humiliating yourself in these comment threads, chump.

34. enough is enough spews:

TEH FAYLE….again.

puff puff pass…

35. enough is enough spews:

potheads are so funny to fuck with…their entire world revolves around weed, getting high, and making pot legal

36. Lee spews:

@32
poor lee…more strawmen in there than a Wizard of Oz remake…

@35
potheads are so funny to fuck with…their entire world revolves around weed, getting high, and making pot legal

So stupid, it’s funny.

Dance, monkey, dance!

37. Chris spews:

@35 This is not about potheads, its about medical marijuana and keeping someone out of pain.

Besides, marijuana should be legal. Its safer than alcohol and the AL Capone wild west way of the marijuana black market would end. Supporting prohibition is like closing your eyes while driving so you wont see yourself crash. Supporting prohibition does not mean people wont use it, its just pretending people wont use it, just as not seeing yourself in a car crash wont mean you did not actually crash.