Man eats joint, swallows harsher charge

A Juneau man is learning the hard way that when caught smoking a joint on the street, the trick is not to conceal the evidence by eating it.

Police say they forwarded felony "tampering with physical evidence" charges against a 24-year-old man after he apparently ingested a marijuana joint when confronted by a police officer.

Lt. David Campbell said in a interview that a police officer was patrolling the downtown area last Friday and smelled the marijuana at the intersection of Fourth and Harris Streets.

The officer located the man, then observed him eating the joint, Campbell said.

The man was not arrested, but JPD forwarded the charges to the District Attorney’s office per their request. His name was not released.

Campbell said this is something that happens periodically.

“People don’t understand that having the marijuana is a class ‘B’ misdemeanor, which is like one step above running a red light. Then when they destroy it, and they’re tampering with physical evidence, that’s a higher charge,” Campbell said.

Tampering with physical evidence is a class ‘C’ felony that is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

If the man didn’t ingest the joint, he would likely only be facing misconduct involving a controlled substance in the sixth-degree. That maximum penalty for that misdemeanor is 90 days in prison and a $2,000 fine.

Alaska law allows a person to possess less than four ounces of marijuana (plant or dried) in the home, but not in public.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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