Richland County (S.C.) officials are investigating alleged marijuana incident
The Associated Press, Tues., Feb. 3, 2009
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Olympic superstar Michael Phelps could face criminal charges as part of the fallout from a photo that surfaced showing the swimmer smoking from a marijuana pipe at a University of South Carolina house party.
A spokesman for Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, who is known for his tough stance on drugs, said Tuesday the department was investigating.
“Our narcotics division is reviewing the information that we have, and they’re investigating what charges, if any, will be filed,” said Lt. Chris Cowan, a spokesman for agency.
The photo first shown in British tabloid News of the World on Sunday was snapped during a November party while Phelps was visiting the university, according to the paper.____________
Where exactly the party occurred isn’t clear. The university said its police have no evidence it was on campus, and city police said they won’t pursue criminal charges unless more information comes forward.
The Richland County sheriff can pursue charges as long as the party was in the county, the spokesman said.
“The bottom line is, if he broke the law, and he did it in Richland County, he’s going to be charged,” Cowan said. “And there’s no difference between Michael Phelps and several other people that we arrest for the same type of a charge everyday.”
Under South Carolina law, possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor that carries a fine up to $200 and 30 days in jail for the first offense. Possession of paraphernalia is a $500 fine.
The Richland County sheriff has long sought to fight drug crimes. He rose from patrol officer to captain of the narcotics division in the early 1990s, after the television series “Miami Vice” made its splash.
Lott played the part well. He wore stylish suits and had long hair then. He drove a Porsche seized from a drug dealer and even worked undercover with federal agents in Florida.
Boy, our country should be proud of our drug laws, no? What justice they do to the type of excellence and individual distinction Michael Phelps showed the world, on our country's behalf, through his hard work and talent. This is his reward in 2009 America.
Hell, we locked up comedian/actor Tommy Chong in federal prison for nearly a year for selling glass water pipes (e.g. "bongs"). Why not railroad Phelps? Maybe Sherrif Lott should get the DEA in on the action...make himself a celebrity hero.
In all seriousness, this is just brainless posturing official idiocy run amok. It is a perfect example of why pro-drug-war cops and prosecutors should be largely sidelined if not outright-ignored in any serious discussions about the future direction of drug policy in America.
Taxpayer-funded drug prohibition enforcers have as much a vested interest in keeping drug black markets going as do the lawless violent criminals getting rich from drug prohibition. The wreckage they blithely make of the lives of so many peaceable responsible citizens is itself criminal.
I suspect tough guy drug enforcers like Sheriff Lott make Vice-President Joe "RAVE Act" Biden awful proud. But for Biden, legions of them might actually be having to do real crime prevention and real public safety...that or find another line of work, one in which mindless bullies can prosper.