On Monday a Denver County judge declined to jail a state-licensed medical marijuana grower for running his operation out of the house he shared with his wife and their three children. Prosecutors initially charged Joseph Lightfoot with felony child abuse under a law aimed at meth cooks but let him plead guilty to misdemeanors instead. Saying "this was overcharged," Judge Andre Rudolph sentenced Lightfoot to 60 days of home detention and one year of probation, plus a "responsible-parenting class." The Denver Post summarizes the rationale for the felony charges:
They charged Lightfoot and his wife, Amber Wildenstein, with felony child abuse, citing a number of potential hazards to the three children, ages 8 to 12: There wasn't a lock on the basement door. There were small amounts of cut marijuana elsewhere in the home. The growing operation —with its chemicals, ventilation problems and allure to would-be robbers—brought up "numerous concerns regarding the children," according to arrest affidavits.
A law professor questions the legal reasoning:
University of Denver law professor and former New York prosecutor Kris Miccio said the concerns raised by the pot-growing operation also could be raised in homes where there's a liquor cabinet, cleaning supplies under the sink or valuables that could entice criminals to break in.
"If a police officer brought that into my office, I would have thrown him out and called his supervisor," Miccio said. "It's crazy. It opens the door to anything."
[Thanks to CK for the tip.]