Pubdate: Wed, 11 Nov 1998
Source: Bangor Daily News
Copyright: 1998, Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: Walter Griffin, BD NEWS 

Wednesday, November 11, 1998


BELFAST - Suggesting that caffeine was more harmful than marijuana, Waldo
County Superior Court Justice William S. Brodrick rejected the
prosecution's call for extended jail time and sentenced an admitted pot
smoker to 30 days. Brodrick sentenced John Thompson, 40, of Frankfort, the
town's road commissioner, to one year in jail with all but 30 days
suspended, a $1,000 fine and two years probation after Thompson pleaded
guilty to unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs. Assistant Waldo County
District Attorney Leane Zainea had argued for a four-year sentence with all
but one year suspended.

The sentencing occurred in Waldo County Superior Court on Monday. According
to Zainea and defense attorney Christopher MacLean of Camden, Thompson
admitted having 2.6 pounds of processed marijuana in his possession when
arrested at home in February 1997. Thompson told the court that he had used
marijuana for years.

During the sentencing phase of the hearing, Justice Brodrick indicated that
the Food and Drug Administration had determined that marijuana was less
addictive than caffeine.

"I think justice was served,'' MacLean said Tuesday. "The court made the
proper ruling.''

That was not the interpretation of Detective Gary Boynton of the Waldo
County Sheriff's Department. While reluctant to criticize Justice Brodrick,
Detective Boynton said the department spent a lot of time and effort on the
Thompson case and expected a tougher sentence. He noted that Thompson had
two prior marijuana convictions on his record.

Attorney MacLean said Thompson was convicted in 1982 of possessing more
than 190 marijuana plants and was fined $200. In 1988, he was convicted of
possessing 179 plants and received a 90-day suspended jail term and one
year probation.

MacLean said it was unreasonable to escalate a criminal's sentence from
suspended jail time to the one year in prison the district attorney had
wanted. He said the punishment should fit the crime and that Thompson
deserved a sentence incremental from those he received earlier.

"He is an admitted user of marijuana,'' MacLean said. "There were no
allegations that he was selling to children or anything like that, just to
his friends.''

While District Attorney Zainea declined to comment on Justice Brodrick's
comparison between marijuana and caffeine, she indicated that she believed
Thompson deserved a more lengthy jail term.

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Checked-by: Pat Dolan