Probation for Pot-Growing Reporter
Though it looked as if CBS Radio journalist Howard Arenstein would get away scott-free after having his Georgetown marijuana crop raided by cops, his luck eventually turned: Arenstein will have to do 90 days of probation, according to recent court documents.
Arenstein and his wife, Orly Katz, had been accused of cultivating a forbidden garden of pleasure in a swank, upper-class neighborhood. On Nov. 16, charges were dropped when a police officer scheduled to testify failed to show up at a preliminary hearing. But prosecutors had the choice of reissuing charges, and they did three days later.
Initially, authorities seemed to think Arenstein and Katz were drug dealers, as the couple faced "possession with intent to distribute marijuana" charges. But once the case was reopened, Arenstein was the only one still in trouble—and not for dealing, either. On Nov. 23, he was pegged with the lesser charge of possession of a controlled substance.
Arenstein waived a trial and was given "probation without adjudication of guilt." Which means he's taking on his sentence without technically admitting to the crime. There were no charges refiled against Katz.
Now that Arenstein has taken the rap for the 11 large pot plants vice officers, acting on a tip, carted away from his home in October, he'll be treated like a run-of-the-mill criminal. Besides being on probation, he'll have to attend a drug treatment program and submit to regular drug tests.
It'll be awkward for the award-winning reporter, but it's definitely better than doing time for something as benign as weed. And in D.C., that's still possible. Marijuana possession charges can earn you up to a year behind bars. One wonders if Arenstein, who has pretty much been outed as pot-head, will feel inspired to speak out for the decriminalization of marijuana after being run through the system like this. His notoriety and status would help that sensible cause along.
Photo by Eric Caballero via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0