Colorado Cannabis Activist Arrested in Oklahoma: Faces Felony Charges with Intent to Distribute

Regina Nelson is the CEO of ECS Therapy Center, a Boulder-based non-profit that promotes research and education on medical cannabis. On Sunday she was headed to Tulsa to promote medical marijuana when she was pulled over and arrested on drug charges.

Nelson, who travels the country speaking about medical marijuana, was stopped by police in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma for failing to use a turn signal. A further search of the vehicle found what ultimately landed her and the two passengers in jail facing felony charges.

When Oklahoma State Patrol searched the vehicle, several “rolled cigarettes with a green leafy substance” were found. Aside from the joints found in the vehicle, a glass pipe, digital scale, multiple baggies filled with a green leafy substance, a peanut butter edible, capsules filled with green oil, and a thermos of low-point beer were discovered. According the court affidavit, a suitcase containing three large vacuum sealed bags of marijuana were also found in the car.

Nelson, her adult son, Bryan Laufenberg, and her business partner, Michael E. Browning are all facing a felony charge of possession of a controlled substance and a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia.

When the officer asked to search the vehicle, Nelson refused. Because he says he smelled marijuana however, probable cause led him to search the vehicle.

Nelson’s attorney, Brecken Wagner, believes that Nelson was targeted because she had Colorado license plates.

“It was really quite shocking and surprising, yet very Oklahoma,” Nelson said. “We felt like we were targeted by OHP.

According to the affidavit, Browning admitted he owned the suitcase containing the three vacuum sealed bags of marijuana, but denied he sold it. Instead, he said he would share it with “whomever needs it or asks for it.”

Nelson and Browning both had scheduled speaking engagements in Oklahoma this week to promote State Question 788, a measure that would legalize medical cannabis in Oklahoma.

All three arrested have pled not-guilty. If they are found guilty of the charges however, Oklahoma has some rather strict cannabis laws. Possession with intent to distribute in Oklahoma can carry a two-year minimum to maximum life in prison sentence.

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