The Iowa judge sentenced a marijuana offender to probation for his indiscretions. And the case didn’t exactly involve a simple possession charge either.
There are still reportedly hundreds of thousands of marijuana arrests taking place across the United States every year, but that doesn’t mean that every case ends in a conviction. More to that point, the fact that slews of people are being dragged to jail every day for marijuana-related violations isn’t an indication that the prisons are filling up with pot offenders.
Even in areas of prohibition — that is to say, those states where marijuana remains an outlaw substance — prosecutors and judges are, at times, taking a more relaxed approach to people busted for weed. In some cases, marijuana offenses are punished less harshly than crimes pertaining to alcohol.
In Iowa, a judge recently sentenced a marijuana offender to probation for his indiscretions. And the case didn’t involve a simple possession charge either. No sir, 21-year-old Nathan Ray Veal-Cox was convicted of possessing a pound of marijuana with intent to deliver. For those who are not privy to the legal jargon, this means the cops, the prosecutor, and the court believed Veal was a drug dealer — one of those dastardly fiends that authorities want behind bars. It turns out that they were probably right.
It’s hard to argue that Veal-Cox wasn’t at least a low-level black market marijuana dealer. In March, when police stopped him along State Highway 17, in addition to a pound of cannabis, an officer also discovered an unloaded handgun, ammunition, stacks of cash, a digital scale, and other contraband believed to be associated with the illicit sale of marijuana. Veal-Cox was dead to rights.
So, how did law enforcement discover all these ganja goodies, which ultimately gave Veal-Cox a first-class ticket to the criminal justice system? Well, when the officer approached the vehicle, he could smell marijuana wafting from it. When asked about the odor, Veal admitted that he had been smoking marijuana. That was enough to establish probable cause for a search, and the rest is history.
Of course, smoking weed on the roadways, regardless of whether it is in prohibition Iowa or legal California, is against the law. It is an offense that typically results in an arrest and a charge for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID). But Veal-Cox wasn’t just smoking pot. He was going for broke that night. He also admitted to law enforcement that he had been doing a little drinking.
According to Iowa State Law, Veal-Cox’s marijuana-related offense alone was enough to land him in prison. Possession of a pound of weed in the Hawkeye State is a felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and fines reaching $7500. Toss in the handgun and various other charges for paraphernalia, etc., and Veal presumably spent the summer scared that he would be eating Thanksgiving dinner in the slammer this year. But his fate would not be that severe.
Earlier this week, Veal-Cox, who pleaded guilty to the charges back in July, went before the judge for sentencing. The outcome was about as good as it could get for someone branded a drug dealer. The judge gave him three to five years supervised probation (meaning: he must meet with a probation officer at least once a month and submit to random drug testing) for the marijuana possession charge. However, if Veal-Cox completes his probationary term without any further violations, the drug conviction will be cleared from his record — like it never happened.
That’s the good news. The bad news is the judge was none too keen on Veal-Cox driving around with booze in his system. For that offense, he was sentenced to two days in jail and fined $625.