Pubdate: Tue, 24 Oct 2006
Source: Belleville News-Democrat (IL)
Copyright: 2006 Belleville News-Democrat
Author: Daniel Kelley, For the News-Democrat
Bookmark: (Marijuana)


MARISSA - A marijuana advocate in Marissa will not be jailed for drug
charges stemming from a 2002 arrest.

Gene Triefenbach, 43, pleaded guilty in St. Clair County court on
Wednesday to a felony charge of manufacturing and delivering cannabis
and will serve one year conditional discharge.

All other charges in the case were dropped.

A conditional discharge allows a defendant to avoid imprisonment, but
the state can revoke the order and resentence the defendant if he
breaks the terms of the discharge.

Triefenbach said he agreed to plead guilty because the prosecution
would likely have appealed should the court have found him innocent.

Likewise, Triefenbach said he would have appealed any charges he was
found guilty of committing.

"Any conviction on marijuana is a disservice to the Constitution,"
Triefenbach said. "This was an agreed upon negotiation. There were
issues at hand, in which whether I won or the prosecution won, there
would be appeals."

Triefenbach said police gathered evidence through warrantless

In court records, the prosecution disputes that argument.

Triefenbach said he still believes it is his right to smoke

"I feel very strongly all citizens may consume (marijuana) as they
please," he said. "The legislature has never been able to control the
appetite and never will."

The St. Clair County Sheriff's Department drug unit searched
Triefenbach's home on Dec. 20, 2002, and reported finding several
marijuana plants with a street value of $800.

Triefenbach was previously an active volunteer with the St. Louis
Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, but has not volunteered
for more than a year.

In 1997, he ran for mayor of Marissa on a platform promising the
replacement of Marissa Police Chief Mike Kerperian.

He was later arrested by Marissa police for possession of marijuana,
but acquitted of those charges.
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