Man Charged with Giving Marijuana, 'Wax' to Teenager

Monday, February 23 2015

(NPR stock photo)

A man is facing a felony charge for giving marijuana to an Unalaska teenager, on the eve of the drug’s legalization in the state.

Marcos Flores, 23, was arrested last week after police got a call from a local parent who said his daughter was in possession of marijuana.

Council Inks Public Pot Use Rules

Police aren't sure yet if the THC wax found in last week's case was homemade or acquired elsewhere -- but it’s the kind of product that could soon be found in marijuana shops in places like Anchorage.

So far, Unalaska has no laws to regulate those sales. What they have is a set of fines for using marijuana in any place the public typically goes. City council passed those rules last week.

The new code says business owners would face a $100 fine for allowing marijuana violations on their properties -- like in the public smoking area at a bar. Subsequent violations in the same year would cost $500. 

But police chief Jamie Sunderland says he "wouldn't see a crime" with the use of the drug in, say, a private room in a store. "I’m sure the business wouldn’t be happy about it," he says, "but that would be strictly a business matter."

The same goes for landlords, who can choose whether to allow marijuana use on their properties.

The new rules also include a $100 initial fine for minors in possession of marijuana, and $300 for subsequent violations within a year.

The city plans to update its code as more detailed state regulations come out later this year.

The 16-year-old girl told police that Flores had given her the marijuana, plus a THC concentrate called wax. Police chief Jamie Sunderland says he’s never seen the substance in Unalaska before.

"What in particular makes this a crime is that there’s an age difference," Sunderland says. "As marijuana is legalized, this particular crime will remain in effect. So you still can’t go around giving kids marijuana."

Starting Tuesday, it’ll be legal for Alaskans 21 and older to have up to an ounce of the drug, use it privately and give it away for free. But providing marijuana to a minor who’s three or more years younger than you will still be a felony. It can carry up to 10 years in prison. 

Flores has no prior criminal record in Alaska. He was arrested aboard a crab boat, the F/V Western Mariner, where police say he had at least another ounce of marijuana in his quarters. Flores’ bail was set at $5,000 in court last Friday. As of Monday, he was still in custody in Unalaska.

He's also facing a misdemeanor charge for allegedly smoking with the teenager in the case. The girl told police Flores had given her the drug once before, and offered to give it to other local teens.

"It is unusual for us to pursue marijuana cases -- we’d prefer when we’re spending the tons of overtime and investigative time to pursue things the hard drugs that are around in our community, like heroin and meth," Sunderland says. "But in this case it was a parent who came to us, so we’re trying to take appropriate action."

He says police typically find marijuana during arrests for other crimes. Their last busts focusing solely on marijuana were last spring. Those cases also involved high schoolers.

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