Pubdate: Tue, 10 Jun 2014
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2014 San Jose Mercury News
Author: Scott Herhold
Page: 13


Editor's Note: A warning to literal readers: Not everything in this 
column is meant to be taken at face value. Expect an ironic comment 
or two. Or three.

In all the hubbub over the June primary election, you might have 
missed the most intriguing story of Election Day -- the arrest of a 
20-year San Jose police veteran on charges of accumulating a 
substantial amount of marijuana in a public storage locker.

The officer, Son Hoai Vu, 42, is facing two felony counts of 
possession, one for sales and one for cultivation. He has been put on 
paid leave while the case is pending. News reports said the managers 
at his Public Storage locker at 475 Tully Road in San Jose unloaded 
his stuff when he fell behind on payments.

Vu will undoubtedly offer his own explanations -- things like "what 
pot?," or "that belonged to my brother-in-law," or "hey, it was 
evidence in an old case." But in the interests of airing this matter 
fully, and bringing compassion to a difficult situation, let me 
suggest five alternative lines of defense:

A) It was all Mayor Chuck Reed's fault. The mayor gets the blame for 
everything else, so he might as well shoulder this one. The San Jose 
police force is demoralized because of Reed's move to cut pensions 
and benefits. Cops are leaving for the exits faster than theater 
patrons when someone yells "fire." When you have a demoralized force 
that needs a few extra bucks, what happens? Well, officers figure the 
rules don't apply to them. And they're hard-pressed to pay their bills.

B) The officer was involved in the "Weed for Votes" plan of the 
medical cannabis collectives. In this version, Son Vu was just a 
citizen doing his bit to help voter turnout. You may have read that 
marijuana collectives wanted to influence Tuesday's election by 
giving marijuana to patients who voted. Son Vu wanted to contribute 
for selfless reasons -- even though the pot recovered was classified 
as "shake," or end bits.

C) To save money, Vu was staging his house for sale and needed to 
remove the dope. A subtler version of the Chuck-Reed-made-me-do-it 
defense. Any good real estate agent will tell you that you need to 
remove clutter to sell your house. What's the definition of unwanted 
stuff? A roomful of pot plants qualifies. How will buyers envisage a 
nursery for a 2-year-old amid a green sea of dope?

D) Vu wanted to take a stand against the arbitrary rules the City 
Council is considering to restrict marijuana. The council deadlocked 
5-5 over new rules in what seems to be a legislative version of the 
endless lawsuit in "Bleak House." No one understands it anymore. One 
restriction would have prohibited a marijuana collective within 1,000 
feet of a school. Sure, Franklin School is across the street from 
Vu's locker. But do we really expect kids to wander over to smoke the 
officer's stash?

E) The veteran officer was stupid. Admittedly, telling the truth is a 
risky defense. Vu should consider it anyway. By allegedly not paying 
his storage fees -- and thus causing the storage company to unload 
his locker and eventually call police -- Vu put at risk a pension 
that is worth at least $1 million to him over the course of a 
lifetime. If you figure he was paying $200 a month and was a couple 
of months behind, he was saving $400, less than half-a-percent of his 
lifetime payout. It's the definition of insanely stupid, right? What 
jury wouldn't have sympathy for a dope like that?
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom