(Seth McConnell, Denver Post file)

Light penalty in Alaska pot case “deal of a lifetime”

JUNEAU, Alaska — A prosecutor said he was giving a Juneau woman the “deal of a lifetime” when she was sentenced for a misdemeanor instead of a felony after officials found 55 marijuana plants in her home.

Juneau District Attorney James Scott called the circumstances surrounding the prosecution of Bonnie E. Odom as a “one-off,” the Juneau Empire reported this week.

If she had been convicted of a felony, she could have served up to five years in jail. Instead, she received a year of probation. Under Alaska law, it’s legal to have 25 plants.

Odom didn’t deny wrongdoing when she was sentenced last week.

“Pretty much everything that’s said is true,” she told Juneau District Court Judge Thomas Nave. “I can’t deny much of anything … That’s really all I have to say. I did it.”

Nave chuckled at her last comment, the Empire reported, and said he didn’t see a need for rehabilitation in this case.

“I don’t, frankly, in this case see the need for any of that,” Nave said. “Technically, it’s illegal because of the amount. I’m sure you’ll adjust that in the future.”

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Her attorney, Kevin Higgins, said Odom is a Coast Guard veteran and 26-year employee of Bartlett Regional Hospital. She uses marijuana for medical purposes because she suffers from arthritis and insomnia.

Scott said he agreed to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor because Odom, 60, didn’t have a criminal record and police only found out about the grow of 55 marijuana plants because of an unrelated incident, when a homeless couple she opened her home to were involved in a case of domestic violence when she wasn’t home. When police arrested the man in November, he informed officials of Odom’s marijuana grow operation.

“She did absolutely nothing herself offensive or bothersome to her neighbors that caused the police to be called,” Scott said. “Her houseguests did. She shouldn’t open up her home — I’ll make a judgment statement — she shouldn’t open up her house to people that will bring police there. Sadly, no good deed goes unpunished.”


Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire