April 12, 2009


Tuesday afternoon the Aspen Police Department returned a small amount of marijuana to a local homeless man who is a state-certified medical marijuana user. Matthew Franzen, 48, uses the drug to treat glaucoma. The police claim they were just following the rules, but may in fact have been poking at an oozy, nasty ongoing feud.

On Saturday Franzen left a backpack at the Thrift Shop in Aspen. Workers there found the lost bag and handed it over to the police who found the weed within.

The back-story is that the police know perfectly well who Matthew Franzen is. He says Aspen police confiscated marijuana from him once before and returned it to him after they found him on the state?s medical user registry.

?They knew I had a certificate months ago,? Franzen said.

The cops held the drugs in their evidence locker and returned everything else to Franzen.

?They took away my pot,? Franzen fumed. ?That is prescribed medicine for me. They?re just harassing me because I?m suing them.?

Franzen currently has a civil lawsuit pending against a good many local law enforcement officials ? including the Pitkin County Sheriff?s Office and District Attorney?s office ? for $150,000 in damages. The suit stems from his arrest and imprisonment on burglary charges in November 2007. But that?s another story.

Aspen?s Police Chief Richard Pryor, a native Brit, conferred with the D.A.?s office on the Colorado medical marijuana statutes before agreeing to release the drugs back to Franzen.

Coincidentally, NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) is holding a fundraiser in Aspen this weekend for their Hunter S. Thompson Scholarship, which pays for an attorney to attend their annual Aspen Legal Seminar in June.

Creatively maximizing on the circumstances, Lauren Maytin, an Aspen-based criminal defense attorney who is on the Colorado board of NORML, offered to help educate the Aspen Police Department on current medical marijuana law.

Franzen has been invited as a guest, Maytin said.

?I?m still a little angry,? Franzen said. ?But at least I can see again.?

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