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Marijuana eater likely not to be charged

Decision not final of tampering with evidence felony charge

Posted: August 21, 2012 - 11:01pm

The Juneau district attorney says that although he hasn’t made a final charging decision, it’s unlikely he will press felony charges against a 24-year-old man who was allegedly caught smoking a marijuana cigarette on the street, and then eating it to conceal the evidence.

“At this time, it’s unlikely that we’ll file a charge based on the information that we have,” District Attorney David Brower said in an interview at his office Tuesday.

The case originated when a police office patrolling the downtown Juneau area on Aug. 10 smelled marijuana at the intersection of Fourth and Harris Streets.

The officer located a man smoking a marijuana joint, and then observed him eating it, a police spokesman said earlier. The man’s name was not released since he was not arrested.

The district attorney’s office initially requested that the police forward the case to them for “tampering with physical evidence,” which is a class ‘C’ felony offense that can carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

That’s a much harsher charge than what would be for possessing marijuana in public, which is a ‘B’ misdemeanor that carries a maximum possible penalty of 90 days in prison and a $2,000 fine.

Brower said that in order to prove the felony charge, his office would have to bring in experts and also spend time convening a grand jury. He said that would be beyond the scope of his office’s resources for the alleged offense.

“The charge would be disproportional to the resources of our office,” he said.

Brower called it a “discretionary decision” that his office frequently runs into. Using a hypothetical scenario, he said the state would be willing to extradite a man in West Virginia if he was wanted for murder in Juneau, but probably not if he was wanted for dealing a little bit of marijuana.

He quipped about the marijuana cigarette, “Our office has more serious charges to deal with than that.”

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

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