Man Charged In Seymour Pot Bust Says It Was For Medicinal Use
by Ethan Fry | Apr 20, 2017 8:54 pm
Most people arrested for growing pot in their homes don’t try to draw attention to that fact.
But a Seymour man going to court Friday on marijuana cultivation charges says his case should be thrown out because he grew the plants for his personal medical use. He’s asking others show up to court to support him.
If the charges aren’t dropped by prosecutors or dismissed by a judge, 53-year-old Norman Plude, who says he uses the drug to manage a decades-old back injury, vowed to go to trial.
“I don’t think there’s a jury out there that’s going to convict a patient,” he said.
Plude was charged March 24 with cultivation of marijuana, possession of more than a kilogram of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, and operating a drug factory.
If convicted of all of the charges, Plude would face more than 40 years in prison.
The charges stem from a June 8, 2016 search of Plude’s home by officers from a statewide police narcotics task force.
“They came and raided my house,” Plude said.
He said cops arrived with a search warrant, read him his rights, and sat him down at a table as they searched his home and seized plants, dried cannabis, and his growing equipment.
Since his arrest he’s been soliciting support on social media for a court appearance scheduled for Friday.
Is This Legal?
Connecticut lawmakers OK’d the use of medical marijuana in 2012 by enacting a law one state-licensed pot vendor called the “toughest in the nation.”
Regulations set up by the Department of Consumer Protection after the passage of the law spell out how patients who get a note from their doctors can buy medical marijuana products — from dispensaries over which authorities have close oversight.
But Plude says he only smokes the drug occasionally, and prefers to eat raw cannabis.
Eating the plant doesn’t get a person “high” in the traditional sense.
Plude says the medicinal properties contained in certain compounds within the plant are more potent when it’s eaten, not heated and inhaled.
Click here to read more about the concept.
One catch, though — dispensaries don’t just sell raw marijuana plants to people.
Instead, they offer a range of cannabis-derived products, like the dried flower of the plant — what people light up to smoke — as well as other oils, extracts, and edibles.
The costs add up, Plude said.
“If you’re a patient, the cost of medication in the state is roughly $1,000 out of pocket per person. Per month,” he said. “You’re allowed two and a half ounces. The average price at a dispensary is about $400 an ounce.”
So he decided to grow his own, and built a greenhouse on the roof of his home for the purpose.
He reasoned that the 2012 law authorizing the use of medicinal marijuana allows patients to have “an amount of usable marijuana reasonably necessary to ensure uninterrupted availability for a period of one month.”
But it remains to be seen whether his excuse will hold weight with the court. Police investigators are certainly not buying it.
State Police: It’s Not Legal
An eight-page arrest warrant written by Seymour Police Detective Thomas Scharf, a member of a state police narcotics task force, says police found a lot more than a month’s supply during a search of Plude’s home June 8, 2016.
The warrant says cops found 28 marijuana plants in various stages of growth during the search — and more than two pounds of ready-to-smoke weed.
Altogether cops seized more than 50 exhibits of evidence from Plude’s home, including equipment he was using to grow marijuana as well as a extracts, oils, and butter infused with marijuana.
The arrest warrant does not say what prompted police to suspect Plude of growing pot.
Police allege Plude readily admitted to cops that he was growing the drug.
“Plude was extremely cooperative with investigators,” Scharf wrote, noting that Plude voluntarily gave a written statement in which he allegedly admitted to growing pot because it was too expensive to buy at dispensaries.
Plude allegedly told police he never sold any marijuana to others, though he did say he gave others drags off marijuana cigarettes in the past.
The warrant says Plude also told investigators he had planted some of the plants “out in the woods in Seymour” and in the woods of Southbury, though the warrant doesn’t elaborate on whether cops ever tried to track down pot plants at those locations.
Without being able to grow his own marijuana, Plude says he now relies on the black market.
“I have to go stand in a bar some place in Massachusetts and ask somebody at the bar, ‘Who’s growing pot and ready to trim? Because I need raw cannabis,’” Plude said.
He said he plans to plead not guilty during his court appearance Friday.
“Unless they throw this thing out, it’s going to be a not guilty,” he said.
Plude’s lawyer, Richard Volo, said he couldn’t yet comment on the case Wednesday because he hadn’t yet finished researching the state’s pot laws.