Behind the Heads: Kris Hammond: What's next in pot case?

Q. What does Don Nord want from this case? Why are you and he pursuing it?

A. Don wants the police to obey the law of Colorado. That alone is reason to pursue the case.

Q. What are the national implications for this case? How could a decision from this case impact state laws on using medicinal marijuana?

A. Our country is founded on the principle of Federalism -- that each state has the right and obligation to enact its own laws regarding matters of state interest. That's why laws vary from state to state on funding, speed limits, marriage, education, health, even fireworks. This encourages each state to find its own unique approach to government.

States can reject ideas that don't work (Florida-style butterfly ballots) and borrow ideas which do (voter registration with drivers license). The states should be left alone to act in these matters.

Colorado's medical marijuana law is simply another example of our citizens' right of self-determination. A decision from this case either affirms states' rights or makes them vulnerable to attack.

Q. When you took this case, did you have a sense that it could set a national precedent?

A. No. It only got big when the police refused to obey the law.

Q. How far are you willing to take this case? How can Don Nord pay for it?

A. Right now, we feel like taking it as far as we have to. Don is on a fixed income and pays me $100 per month. That probably covers the case's phone bill.

Q. What will you do if the federal judge removes the case to federal court and then dismisses the contempt citations? Will you go to a court of appeals?

A. My crystal ball doesn't work right now. When it starts working again, we'll fund the case with gambling profits.

Q. What is the most important argument in this case? What's the central point of it, and what do you hope to prove through it?

A. Federalism (see above).

Q. Were you surprised that the U.S. Attorney's Office removed the case to federal court? If the case is removed, will that hurt your argument because the case will have to be decided in a federal arena under federal laws?

A. I wasn't expecting it, but in retrospect I'm not surprised. When a state case like this is removed to Federal Court, the federal judge is supposed to do what he thinks Judge (James) Garrecht would have done.

Q. Do you think the state of Colorado and Routt County Judge James Garrecht will become plaintiffs in the case? When could that happen? If Judge Walker Miller hears the case, will those state parties enter?

A. I hope they enter and get lawyers smarter than me, and soon. Two or three brains are better than one.

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