An attempted pot bust on Hippie Hill back in February was snuffed out this week after a jury decided the alleged pot dealer was actually just a chill dude trying to smoke somebody out. The decision was a win for Public Defender Jeff Adachi's office, which successfully argued against SFPD's Park Station's hilariously antiquated and unnecessarily costly anti-pot crusade.
According to Public Defender Jeff Adachi's office, where communications assistant Tamara Barak Aparton has been putting out some truly colorful press releases recently, 24-year-old marijuana user Stetson Qualls Jones was slapped with felony charges and facing up to three years in jail because he made the mistake of offering a free nugget of weed to an undercover cop who had been trying to buy weed on Hippie Hill.
From the Public Defender's office:
Qualls Jones’ ordeal began Feb. 5 while hanging out with friends in the “Hippy Hill” area of Golden Gate Park. The group was socializing and smoking marijuana when Qualls Jones thought he recognized a man approaching the group and waved him over. Upon closer inspection, Qualls Jones realized the man was a stranger, but welcomed him regardless. When Qualls Jones invited him to smoke with the group, the man declined, asking instead if he could buy marijuana.
Qualls Jones testified that he told the man that he did not sell marijuana. The man appeared agitated and stressed out, so Qualls Jones reached into his personal stash, pinched off a small amount of marijuana, and handed it to the man, who turned out to be a police decoy.
Qualls Jones, who lives a communal lifestyle and frowns upon capitalism, testified that he refused the $20 the man offered him in exchange for the marijuana.
But the smokeout was actually a stakeout, and five or six police officers descended onto the blanket where Jones was hanging out with six other people. The cops found less than an ounce of weed on him and later testified that the $20 bill was found under the blanket where Jones had been sitting. When questioned, two of the officers later admitted they were taking overtime pay while working the buy-bust operation in the notoriously stoney corner of Golden Gate Park. Police never gathered any other evidence in the setup and failed to interview any of the witnesses present.
Another officer admitted in court that the department received federal grants for the sting operations and SFPD Park Station Captain Greg Corrales (now retired) has made his opinions about "the weed with roots in hell" very public in his weekly neighborhood bulletin updates, which are routinely hilarious in that old-guy-talks-about-drugs kind of way. Last year, the Examiner quantified our collective eyeroll, taking Corrales and company to task for the costly and time-consuming sting operations that seem to be designed to clog up resources and rack up overtime for cops.
Anyhow, for the whole ordeal, Jones was found guilty of possession of less than one ounce of marijuana — an offense the Board of Supervisors voted in 2006 to make the SFPD's lowest priority. At a mere $25, the infraction costs less than half an eighth of decent weed.