Denver prosecutors on Friday dismissed all charges against a man whose arrest became a test case for whether the state’s laws against making concentrated pot are still valid.
Paul Mannaioni, 24, was arrested last year in connection with a marijuana hash oil explosion. He had faced felony charges of arson and manufacture of marijuana concentrate.
In a brief motion Friday, the Denver district attorney’s office asked for the charges against Mannaioni to be dismissed because, “The People are unable to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Hash oil is a potent goop made by dissolving marijuana’s active chemicals from the underlying plant material. Some production methods use highly flammable solvents.
Mannaioni was one of three people charged in connection with a hash oil explosion on Lipan Street a year ago. He had argued that Amendment 64, the recreational marijuana measure, legalized the processing of marijuana plants — thus making the state’s law against manufacturing marijuana concentrate unconstitutional. The state attorney general’s office disagreed.
After a lengthy hearing, a Denver judge rejected Mannaioni’s constitutional argument. But Mannaioni’s attorney, Rob Corry, said he would have likely raised the question more specifically again at trial. He believes prosecutors were wary of convincing a jury that making hash oil is a crime.
“That’s what we probably would have prevailed on at trial,” Corry said.
District attorney’s spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough disagreed. Instead, she said, prosecutors were concerned they couldn’t convince a jury that Mannaioni was present at the crime.
“As the case went forward, we were unable to put Mr. Mannaioni in the hash oil production part of that,” she said.
Prosecutors also dismissed charges against one of Mannaioni’s co-defendants. Another co-defendant pleaded guilty, she said.
John Ingold: 303-954-1068, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/johningold