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August 4, 2016

After inquiries by members of Congress, Oregon US Attorney agrees to drop federal marijuana charges against Native American teen

I reported in this post last week about the suprising federal prosecution in Oregon of Devontre Thomas, 19-years-old Native American subject earlier this year to a one-count federal misdemeanor charge for possessing "about a gram" of marijuana.  The press coverage of this case prompted members of Congress from Oregon, as reported in this local piece, to inquire about this prosecution:

Three members of Oregon's congressional delegation are demanding U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams explain why his office is prosecuting a Native American teenager for allegedly possessing a gram of marijuana.  In letter [sent August 4, 2016], U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, all Oregon Democrats, ask Williams to give them a full list of the marijuana crimes his office has pursued since 2014, when Oregon voters legalized recreational cannabis.

"Marijuana possession charges have declined in Oregon over the past few years, and we hope to see that trend continue," the delegation writes. "We hope that your office continues this focus on dangerous criminal activity, rather than pursuing crimes involving a substance legal in Oregon."

Now, and surely not coincidentally, this piece from Marijuanapolitics.com reports in its headline that federal prosecutors are "to Drop Charges Against Oregon Teen Devontre Thomas." Here are the latest details:

Even those that don’t support legalizing cannabis were hard pressed to support the federal government threatening Oregon teen Devontre Thomas with a year long prison term over about a gram of marijuana.  Drug War reform advocates and concerned citizens across the nation were frankly appalled of such a harsh sentence facing a nonviolent teenager in a state that had legalized cannabis with over 56% of the vote in 2014.

Thomas’ attorney, Ruben Iniguez worked tirelessly for his client and he left me a message stating that the charges would be dismissed in 60 days so long as Thomas stayed out of trouble and stayed employed and/or in school, conditions he was confident the teen would fulfill.  Iniguez thanked advocates for reaching out and offering to help with Thomas’ case.

August 4, 2016 at 06:43 PM | Permalink


Congrats to Ruben Iniguez, a great attorney and good friend!

Posted by: Michael R. Levine | Aug 4, 2016 6:58:45 PM

A damn good atty. Sounded like a bogus charge for todays standards on it.

It would of scarred the kid. Hopefully he got the msg and quits or does a better job hiding it. At 19 yrs of age, 1 gram of weed. This was enough for the feds the process it.

This US Atty needs to get a life.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Aug 4, 2016 9:48:17 PM

The Oregon U.S. Attorney was obviously stoned out of his mind when he first approved the charge.

Posted by: anon | Aug 4, 2016 10:45:14 PM

No judge is going to give anywhere near the maximum of one year. Just referencing it is referencing it is pure hyperbole. If convicted I doubt he would have served a day in jail.

People are federally prosecuted for weed on federal land here in California all the time. Certainly no members of Congress are calling. Why is this kid any different ?

Posted by: David | Aug 5, 2016 1:39:24 AM

David writes "Why is this kid any different ?" Because the kid is in Oregon, not California. Here, we're all getting stoned now, and we like it.

Posted by: anon | Aug 5, 2016 7:32:37 AM

I remember one WO who used to claim that these type of charges just NEVER happen nowadays so what's the problem.

The PROBLEM is the unlimited power of prosecutors to screw with your life. I'm sure this type of offense would also be considered "violent".

Thank God that it took higher ups to call him in on it. I wonder how many times this doesn't happen, eh Bill?

Posted by: albeed | Aug 5, 2016 8:02:42 AM

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