NEW ULM - A Mankato attorney for a 33-year-old New Ulm man facing felony violations related to a marijuana-growing operation in his home filed an answer and counterclaim Friday in Brown County District Court.
Jon G. Hansen II, 2201 N Broadway, was charged Feb. 4, with felony 4th degree controlled substance sale in a park zone, felony 5th degree controlled substance sale, felony 5th degree controlled substance possession and petty misdemeanor drug paraphernalia possession.
According to the complaint, New Ulm Police acted Feb. 1 on a tip about an active marijuana-growing operation in Traulich Estates and that Hansen may be in charge of it. Police went to the suspected residence, smelled marijuana, obtained a search warrant and went to the residence with Brown-Lyon-Redwood-Renville Drug Task Force members on Feb. 2.
Officers searched the residence and found four 2-foot high marijuana plants, three 4-foot marijuana plants and eight small marijuana plants in a plastic pail with a water pump inside.
Officers also found florescent and grow lights, fans, growing canvas, power strips with timers, jars with marijuana buds, empty jars, plastic bags with marijuana leaves, potting soil, fertilizer, a bong and multi-colored marijuana pipe, a scale, grinders and other marijuana pipes.
Hansen told police he was perfecting the craft of growing marijuana to get ahead of the game when Minnesota legalizes it.
Police collected and photographed marijuana plants and weighed about 90 grams of harvested marijuana.
In the counterclaim submitted by the Calvin P. Johnson law firm, Hansen was described as "a farmer, with the ability to sell without a license under Minn. Constitution Art. XIII, Subd. 7 (Farmers Amendment), including the right to grow the product of his own farm or garden."
"Hansen possesses rights existing in the common law when this Country and the State of Minnesota were founded. Some of these rights were made an explicit part of the Minnesota Constitution ... the marijuana plant (aka hemp, marijuana, hashish, Indian hemp, cannabis) was grown for many uses, including making paper, sails, rope, clothing, linen, and other items, as well as for medical purposes," according to a 12-page counterclaim.
Hansen believes that local marijuana growth will cripple the drug cartels' stranglehold over Minnesota, eliminate numerous deaths, including those of the children, killed in a "drug war" that cannot be won. Local marijuana growth will reduce the drug cartels' pipeline to Minnesota for other drugs, such as heroin and methamphetamine. Minnesota farmers don't grow or cultivate dangerous drugs," the counterclaim read.
The State failed to collect substantial economic benefits from legalizing marijuana sales, which would improve the public good ... which is a constitutional violation, the counterclaim continued. It requested the Court rule in favor of Hansen on all 10 counts he faces, including his right to a fundamental right to mental health treatment, that placing marijuana on Schedule I violates his rights and marijuana is properly classified as an herbal supplement.
"The change of consciousness among Minnesotans reflects a general understanding that marijuana does not pose any harm and that it can be beneficial in many ways, including medicinally," according to a press release from Johnson's law office. "Mr. Hansen raises some startling questions about the nature of drug cartels, and that fact that Minnesota farmers can literally shut down their business, if given the opportunity to grow marijuana. This is the answer; law enforcement needs to pay attention. Cheap heroin is showing up in Minnesota, wreaking havoc, all funded by foreign cartels selling marijuana. Let's put an end to this pipeline," Johnson said.
Brown County Attorney Robert D. Hinnenthal said the counterclaim amounts to a lot of work and cost to his office on a highly-debated topic in Minnesota and some others states.
"This is a very unique defense related to the forfeiture and seizure of items used in the alleged illegal activity using controlled substances, not the three other felonies and one misdemeanor," Hinnenthal said. "He's stretching things a bit here. If you have a right to grow controlled substances, where do you draw the line? That's what the Legislature is supposed to do. Society has to have lines drawn in certain places. The safety of the masses trumps the interests of smaller numbers of people."
A scheduling hearing for criminal charges against Hansen is set for 11 a.m., Tuesday, April 22 in Brown County District Court, according to Johnson's news release.
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org).