WA: Prosecutors Question Defendant’s Medical Marijuana Defense

February 18, 2010 – EVERETT, WA. — Cammie McKenzie grows marijuana to treat her chronic back problems.

Two back-to-back car crashes in 2006 left her with bulging discs, pain and arthritis in her spine, McKenzie told a Snohomish County jury Wednesday.

She is an authorized medical marijuana patient. She is allowed under the law to have a 60-day supply of marijuana to treat her health ailments.

That’s why she was growing marijuana in the Bothell house she was renting when police raided it in 2008, McKenzie said.

Prosecutors and narcotics detectives see it differently. They believe McKenzie, 24, was using her medical marijuana authorization as a front for an illegal pot farm. They allege that McKenzie was growing more plants than she was allowed and illegally selling what she wasn’t smoking or eating in baked goods.

McKenzie argues that prosecutors are basing their case on the word of her former roommate, a known drug dealer who lied about his involvement in selling marijuana. He was promised that he wouldn’t be prosecuted for dealing if he testified against McKenzie.

It will be up to a jurors to hash out the truth, and sort out the state’s medical marijuana law, which many agree often creates more questions than it answers.

Wednesday marked the second day of testimony in Snohomish County’s first trial centered around medical marijuana. Attorneys are expected to wrap up today and send the case to the jury to deliberate.

McKenzie is charged with manufacturing marijuana, a felony.

“This case is not about medicine. This case is about money,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Matthew Baldock said in opening statements Tuesday. “The defendant was masquerading as a marijuana patient and was in reality a drug dealer, no question.”

Baldock called two witnesses, both detectives with the Bellevue-based Eastside Narcotics Task Force in his case against McKenzie. He rested his case Wednesday but was allowed to reopen his case when defense attorney Natalie Tarantino brought up Baldock’s failure to identify the defendant as the person who has been charged.

Tarantino asked the judge to throw out the charge against McKenzie based on a lack of evidence, including the state’s failure to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that her client is, in fact, the person charged with the crime.

Superior Court Judge George Appel denied the motion and instead allowed Baldock to bring a detective back on the stand to testify to the defendant’s identity.

Jurors were shown a photocopy of a driver’s license with a picture of Cameron Scott Wieldraayer. That was the name of the defendant before she changed both her gender and her name. The detective identified the person in the driver’s license photograph as McKenzie.

Jurors were advised at the beginning of jury selection that McKenzie previously lived as a man. The announcement was made in attempt to dismiss any jurors who couldn’t be impartial or fair based on McKenzie’s gender transition.

McKenzie took the stand Wednesday.

She explained in detail how to grow marijuana. She currently runs an Internet business selling growing equipment. She also detailed how marijuana helps her manage her medical symptoms. She said she’d gone through physical therapy, chiropractic treatments and was prescribed a litany of pain medications, including strong opiates. She didn’t respond well to the treatments.

Marijuana “stops the brain from acknowledging the pain,” allowing her to function, McKenzie said. She told jurors she consumes up to a quarter-ounce a day. At that rate, her pot consumption would fall well below the state’s allowable medical marijuana possession limit of 24 ounces in a 60-day period.

McKenzie started growing her own marijuana beginning in 2006 because it was too expensive to buy from a dealer. She said she renews her doctor’s authorization regularly.

McKenzie adamantly denied that she was selling marijuana or using her operation to make a profit.

Prosecutors are expected to call McKenzie’s former roommate to the stand today. By Diana Hefley. Source.

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