Saturday, December 24, 2016

Speedy's Weed

Texas A&M football player Speedy Noil was arrested for Possession of Marijuana (POM) on Tuesday, December 20, 2016. The story has been run by ESPN, NBC Sports in one form or another. Other than Brent Zwerneman's story in the Houston Chronicle (Zwerneman lives in College Station), the most detailed of these came from one of the first to publish, our local newspaper, The Bryan College Station Eagle. According to The Eagle: 
 Noil's arrest stems from a complaint about a loud party just before midnight Friday. According to court documents, the officer could smell marijuana as he walked up to the building and made his way up to the third floor apartment on Sterling Street. As he drew close, the officer said he learned that the noise wasn't a party, rather, it was coming from a TV, the documents state, adding that when he knocked on the door, Noil stepped out and shut the door behind him.
Once quizzed about the smell of marijuana coming from the apartment, Noil became "verbally defensive and overall uncooperative," resulting in other officers responding to the scene, according to the report.
Noils declined to give consent to allow officers into his apartment, where he lives alone, authorities said, adding that a judge then signed off on a search warrant.
About 4.1 grams of pot was discovered in a cigar package in the kitchen of the one-bedroom apartment, as well as .9 grams of a marijuana blunt found in the closet of his bedroom, authorities said. (my emphasis added).
All the national news outlets were quick on the sensational: Drugs! Possession of less than 2 ounces of Marijuana! DRUGS! OH THE HUMANITY!

Part of the story is Noil's past history of scrapes with the law and the TAMU athletic department. These are separate issues. I want to concentrate on his instant arrest of POM. It would not matter for the points I make here how much past trouble he had been in, nor that he is an elite athlete on the NFL radar.

Noil's instant arrest, at least from my point of view, is silly and illustrative of what is wrong with POM arrests not only in Brazos County, but the Great State of Texas. The reasons? Noil was found, at best with (the story says "about," which usually means less), 5 GRAMS of marijuana IN HIS HOME.

2 ounces of marijuana is the equivalent of 56.7 grams. Thus, had Noil been found in possession of more than TEN TIMES of the amount found in his home, he would face the same criminal consequence for which he was arrested. Yep, to me, that is pretty silly.

Neither was Noil huffing and puffing his evil 5 grams of weed in a car while endangering traffic by either his impaired driving or by distractedly trying to load his bowl with ganja and driving simultaneously. Nope, he was at home, minding his own dadgum business, playing his television too loud.

Of course he need not have been arrested at all. As I have written before, law enforcement is allowed to cite and release instead of arresting individuals for possession of misdemeanor amounts of marijuana.

Instead, Noil had to wait while a judge was found to sign off on a search warrant, resulting in a search of his home, involving, I'm sure, several CSPD officers taken off the streets to, mind you, turn over every nook and cranny of the space Noil calls home. The whole process probably took several hours. And the result? The uncovering of (GADS!), maybe 5 grams of marijuana.

I really would like to review the affidavit supporting the request for the search warrant. I understand the odor of marijuana part, but any law enforcement affidavit that contains language that an individual refusing consent to search of his home became "verbally defensive and overall uncooperative" to support a search has issues with probable cause. But this is another topic, perhaps for another time.

5 GRAMS of marijuana. In a HOME. Arrest. $2000 bond. Formal Charge. Penal Sanctions. Can we not do better than this on both a local and state level? The waste of law enforcement time, local tax dollars and the busted citizen's time, money and resources for a criminal offense that in many, many Texas counties would not have resulted in an arrest is mind boggling.

NOTE: I do not represent Noil, nor do I know who does.

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