Fearing that a jury might be sympathetic to an epileptic man caught with marijuana, St. Charles prosecutor Jack Banas
says he won't pursue felony drug charges against 57-year-old Kenneth Wells
At issue is whether an innocent verdict could open further debate surrounding Missouri law that prohibits use of marijuana for medical treatment. Speaking to the Post-Dispatch
, Banas said a not-guilty verdict could have "muddied the waters" regarding state law.
Still, Banas warned: "Missouri is not one of those states that's going to run to the
legalization side any time soon," Banas said. "It is still illegal
to grow marijuana."
In 2008 Wells was caught growing marijuana in his basement during an investigation into a fire inside his home. Wells said he used the pot to treat his chronic epilepsy. He had no prior convictions and police could find no evidence of him selling the drug.
Wells could have faced 15 years in prison. Banas said that the felony charges will be dropped so long as Wells doesn't have any new violations withing the next two years. That shouldn't be a problem, with Wells saying he's stopped using the drug in favor of prescription medication.
While thrilled with the Banas' decision, Wells' attorney, Wayne
Schoeneberg, warned other marijuana users from viewing his client's case as the rule. "I would caution anybody who
is getting involved with marijuana to not think that this is going
to be the norm under any circumstances," he told the daily.