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ILLNESS DELAYS SENTENCING IN TAX-STAMP CASE

Sentencing for a Logan man who says he needs marijuana for a debilitating illness has been postponed because he was too sick to attend.

Ruben Contreras, 33, faces a third-degree felony charge of failing to affix a tax stamp to marijuana in his possession. He pleaded guilty to the charge in June in exchange for the dismissal of a drug possession count.Defense attorney Arden Lauritzen told 1st District Judge Gordon Lowe on Monday that Contreras was hospitalized much of last week. He said his client was released over the weekend but was too sick Monday afternoon to make it to court.

Contreras suffers from autonomic neuropathy, a rare and life-threatening disease. Lauritzen said doctors locally and at the Mayo Clinic agree that marijuana lessens its symptoms, which include uncontrollable nausea and vomiting.

Lauritzen has asked that the judge reduce the charge to a misdemeanor, since his client would lose Social Security and insurance benefits if convicted of a felony.

Deputy Cache County Attorney James Jenkins has asked Lauritzen to document the claims. At Monday's hearing, the defense attorney said he was prepared to do so.