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Robert J. Corry, Jr. Headshot

Why This Republican Marijuana Defense Lawyer Supports That Democratic Prosecutor

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It was August 3, 2009, Day One of the felony jury trial in People versus Jason Lauve, Boulder Colorado District Court. Since my client had rejected all offers and we were heading to battle, the ass-kissing was over, and the ass-kicking was on. I was in full-blown scorched-earth warrior mode.

Buying my morning burrito at the courthouse cafe, in walks the new Boulder District Attorney, Stan Garnett. My warrior mind quickly searched for the appropriate insult to direct against Stan. Here before me stood a liberal Boulder Democrat elected official with a long background as a top civil litigator in downtown Denver, an atypical D.A., an intellectual "limousine liberal," but who had probably worn Birkenstocks and protested the government at some point in his life.

Stan politely asked me, "how you doin'?" I replied, "Just takin' on The Man," hoping to land a punch and establish in Stan's liberal mind that Stan was now, in fact, "The Man," i.e., the bane of rich liberal Boulder types. Stan laughed and walked off.

Four jury trial days later, and Jason Lauve was acquitted of all charges, and rolled his wheelchair out of the Boulder courthouse with over two pounds of medical marijuana in an evidence box on his lap, to cheers from our ragtag rebellion and hugs from jurors.

Shortly after the glow of victory, Stan Garnett publicly expressed sympathy with the outright legalization of marijuana, an extraordinary position for a sitting prosecutor. Stan also reached out to me, and regretted that our communication had not been better on this important case. Stan committed to taking a closer look at any marijuana-related prosecution in Boulder. He also explored some creative litigation to bring certainty to the unclear law surrounding medical marijuana. Stan's approach to the sting of his defeat was anything but sour grapes.

In the ensuing months, Stan underwent a positive evolution in the D.A.'s treatment of marijuana. Some politicians believe changing their minds is a sign of weakness. To the contrary, it is a sign of strength and commonsense, all too rare in politics. Every day, normal people change our minds and alter our positions in light of new and developing information. By contrast, the State, especially as regards the Drug War industrial complex, consistently satisfies the definition of insanity by doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. The government's Drug War is literally insane.

I became and remain a Republican because I love the Constitution and fear the government. I became and remain a criminal defense lawyer for similar reasons.

During my politically-formative high school pot-smoking years, I agreed with Ronald Reagan when he said: "Government is not the solution to the problem. Government IS the problem." I disagreed with Nancy Reagan when she tried to be my parent and told me to "Just Say No." In fact, the government, through inept mandatory public school assemblies, caused me to inhale more than any other factor.

There is no modern government policy that has failed more than Marijuana Prohibition. It tramples on our constitutional rights, costs billions, imposes economic illiteracy, deprives millions of people of their freedom, clogs our crowded courts, balloons the size and power of government, makes millions of good people into criminals, and contributes to citizens' cynicism and disrespect for the rule of law. Prohibition has utterly failed to stem peoples' appetites.

A government powerful enough to break into your home to rip a joint out of your hands is a government far too powerful for this free country. Both political parties are nearly completely negligent in ending this failed and expensive war on marijuana consumers. But the Republicans are especially culpable, because their rhetoric and stated principles are so opposite to their actions.

We expect Democrats to create the Nanny State. Republicans are supposed to stand up against that.

Occasionally, a free thinker emerges from the political muck. Stan is one of those. For the first time, I have endorsed a Democrat in a partisan election. I am even co-sponsoring a fundraiser for him on Thursday, September 23.

A few in the medical marijuana community are disappointed I would endorse Stan the Man, who prosecuted Jason Lauve. If Stan had not learned from that case, I would not endorse him. The Colorado Attorney General has more power in the area of medical marijuana than any other government official, and Stan will increase freedom and will improve significantly the lives of Colorado's suffering medical marijuana patients.

No politician is perfect, but the perfect must not be the enemy of the good. If medical marijuana is to be legitimized, we as a community must support politicians who support us. If these candidates are not elected to office, they can do little. In this instance, freedom is non-partisan.