GLENWOOD SPRINGS (AP) - Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario is criticizing the state's medical marijuana law, saying it virtually makes police grow the illegal plant to prove a case.

Vallerio commented after District Attorney Colleen Truden's office dropped charges against Gene Brownlee because police had destroyed the plants. Investigators submitted photos and cuttings of the plant to prove their case.

But a judge ruled the actual living plants had to be presented as evidence. Earlier a different judge made the same ruling in the case involving Brownlee's ex-wife, Jennifer Ryan.

The decision seems to put in doubt whether the third person charged in the case, Justin Brownlee, can be successfully prosecuted.

"Each case is different. Each case has its own facts and law and stuff that applies," said Assistant District Attorney Vince Felletter. Justin Brownlee's next court appearance is scheduled Jan. 12.

The case involves a drug bust in 2004 by the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team, or TRIDENT. Agents said they confiscated 130 marijuana plants from Ryan and Brownlee's apartment.

Ryan and Gene Brownlee both said the marijuana was being grown for medical purposes. Investigators charged the trio plus Drew Gillespie with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Gillespie received a deferred sentence after pleading guilty.

Vallario, TRIDENT's chairman, said his officers should have been aware of the requirements of the state statue passed in a referendum by voters.