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Welcome to the NEW Atkinson Reporter! Under new management, with new resolve.

The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Marijuana charges dropped against couple

PLAISTOW — The state has dropped all but one charge against an Atkinson couple accused of growing marijuana in their home. On Monday, all charges against Valerie Zdrada, 60, were dropped, while her husband, Robert Zdrada, 65, still faces one felony charge of cultivating marijuana. Both were initially charged with one count of cultivation of marijuana and one count of possession of the drug with the intent to distribute. Judge Sharon DeVries accepted the state's withdrawal of three of the four charges in 10th Circuit Court in Plaistow Monday morning. The Zdradas' defense attorney, Alan Cronheim, said he was pleased with the development. "I appreciate that the state took the time to resolve it. I think it's very appropriate that the possession with intent to distribute charges were (dropped)," Cronheim said. "Lastly, we appreciate that the state has reviewed the medical information we've provided and we're going to continue conversations about how the remaining charge is resolved." Cronheim argued at the couple's arraignment in December that they grew the marijuana not to sell, but to treat Robert Zdrada, who suffers from cancer. Zdrada obtained a medical marijuana card in late January. New Hampshire began accepting applications for medical marijuana identification cards in early November, just three weeks after the couple's arrest. Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana into law in 2013. Cronheim had referenced a Superior Court case from November, in which a judge ruled that the state needed to issue a medical marijuana card to an Alstead woman named Linda Horan, who then used it to buy the drug in Maine. Cronheim likened the case to his clients' situation, arguing that Robert Zdrada would have had legal access to marijuana had New Hampshire not delayed the issuance of cards. At the time of the Zdradas' arrest Oct. 19, police said they seized more than seven pounds of marijuana, along with plant stems, seeds and specialized heating lamps, from the Zdradas' Crown Hill Road home. The case will move to Rockingham Superior Court to be presented to a grand jury if it is not resolved during negotiations between the defendants and the state beforehand.