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High court reverses pot conviction over evidence

By The Associated Press
Published On: Nov 09 2013 09:39:13 AM MST
MARIJUANA / GAVEL
HELENA, Mont. -

The Montana Supreme Court has reversed the conviction of a Beaverhead County man for criminal distribution of dangerous drugs.
    
The court ruled in a 4-1 decision Wednesday that state prosecutors presented the testimony of one witness who said Anthony James Burwell provided her with marijuana in exchange for babysitting in the summer of 2011.
    
Chief Justice Mike McGrath wrote that no expert analyzed the witness' description of the substance, no other witnesses backed her testimony and she did not describe its effects.
    
McGrath concluded that the evidence was insufficient to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the substance was a dangerous drug.
    
Justice Jim Rice dissented, saying the opinion ignores significant circumstantial evidence and it was up to the jury that convicted Burwell to determine the facts.