When a drug case fails in Colorado, law enforcement officers do not have to return confiscated marijuana because doing so would be a violation of federal law, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Jan. 23, 2017.
The decision overruled the Colorado Court of Appeals, which had said the Colorado Springs Police Department must return marijuana to Robert Crouse, who was arrested on drug charges on May 5, 2011, but eventually was acquitted by a jury, according to a Jan. 23, 2017, article in the Denver Post. Crouse had said he was a registered medical marijuana patient.
“The return provision requires law enforcement officers to return, or distribute, marijuana,” Judge Allison Eid wrote for the Colorado Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision. “Thus, compliance with the return provision necessarily requires law enforcement officers to violate federal law.”
In a dissenting opinion, three Colorado Supreme Court justices said the Controlled Substances Act “immunizes federal and state officers from civil and criminal liability in the circumstances at issue here.”
Despite the decision, the case does not impact Crouse. “As far as Mr. Crouse is concerned, the case is moot,” Crouse’s attorney, Charles Houghton, said. “Years ago all the marijuana was returned to him.”