Marijuana Mama's Sour Sayonara

April 07, 1994

Pamela Snowhite Davis, the marijuana activist, doesn't harbor many kind thoughts about Carroll County. "There is something evil out there," she said last week. She is now living in downtown Baltimore and has opened a shop -- called "Marijuana Mama's Baltimore Hemporium" -- that features products made from hemp. She is also continuing her battle on behalf of legalizing marijuana.

It is understandable that after being convicted of possessing less than an ounce of marijuana and receiving one of the harshest sentences imposed on a first-time offender, Davis would be bitter. But she is wrong to label the entire county evil. Her beef is with the Carroll County Drug Task Force, county State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman and Circuit Court Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr.

When Davis decided to fight the seizure of her business computer and records, her case became more than just a crime of possession to the powers that be. It escalated into a symbolic battle between an outspoken advocate of marijuana and a prosecutor prepared to use every tool to jail her.

Davis refused to go along with the task force's arbitrary seizure and sued. Her case never went to trial; the government returned her computer and records. But the fact that she was prepared to fight and got a lot of publicity angered the drug task force. To get back, the task force decided to arrest Davis on trumped-up charges of distributing marijuana seeds from her store. The state failed to win that case, too.

The task force did, however, win a conviction on its original NTC possession charge, and Judge Beck decided that Davis needed to be taught a lesson. He imposed an unusually stiff sentence for this type of conviction. She was sent immediately to prison, where she spent 56 days until an Anne Arundel County judge released her while her conviction is being appealed.

Davis is no model citizen. She engaged in illegal activity and continues to advocate its practice. The contrition she once exhibited in court was apparently insincere. Many county residents believe her treatment was precisely what she deserves. In their zeal to prosecute Davis and make her an abject lesson, however, police, prosecutors and the judge forget that justice is the middle word in criminal justice system. When justice is abused, we shouldn't be surprised the victim feels bitter.

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