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Columbia County judge imposes prison term for James D. Hurt in marijuana trafficking case

Monday, Aug 4, 2014 5:55 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Aug 5, 2014 1:49 AM
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The driver stopped with two nephews of the Columbia County sheriff and more than 20 pounds of marijuana pleaded guilty Monday.

James D. Hurt, 27, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to trafficking marijuana, admitting he and Kenneth Whittle, 26, and Walter Hensley, 25, drove to California to buy the marijuana and were bringing it back to Augusta when they were stopped Sept. 20.

Judge Daniel J. Craig sentenced Hurt to five years in prison followed by one year on probation under the First Offender Act. Craig also imposed a mandatory $100,000 fine.

Hurt is expected to get credit for the time he has spent in jail since his arrest.

It was Hensley’s first trip out, Hurt told narcotics officers, but Hurt and Whittle had made other trips out West to buy marijuana, said Assistant District Attorney John Markwalter.

Hurt served four years in the Army and served with the honor guard that participated in the burials and ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, his attorney Ricardo Bravo told the judge.

Hurt and Whittle were old Army buddies and Hurt followed Whittle back to Augusta when his service ended, Bravo said.

Craig said he was taking into account Hurt’s military service and his lack of any felony record in his sentencing. But Craig said he didn’t want the sentence to lead others to follow Hurt’s path.

While some states have legalized the sale of marijuana, it is still against federal law and still a crime in Georgia, Craig said. One day the country may reach an agreement on the legalization issue, Craig said, and it was Hurt’s misfortune to be guilty of the crime at this time.

Whittle and Hensley have pleaded not guilty to the charge of trafficking marijuana.

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Riverman1 08/05/14 - 04:30 am
Judge Craig Surprisingly Candid

"While some states have legalized the sale of marijuana, it is still against federal law and still a crime in Georgia, Craig said. One day the country may reach an agreement on the legalization issue, Craig said, and it was Hurt’s misfortune to be guilty of the crime at this time."

So he is going to prison for 5 years for something part of the country doesn't think is a crime or anti-social and something the judge believes will be changed in the future? It doesn't seem quite right.

corgimom 08/05/14 - 06:07 am
There is no indication that

There is no indication that Georgia will legalize it anytime soon.

And there is a difference between a put user and a pot distributor.

Who wants a drug dealer living in their neighborhood?

nocnoc 08/05/14 - 06:41 am

Drive 1500 miles to buy 20 LBS of Weed
Drive 1500 miles thru about 20 states with it
only to get busted when you get home.

Why all the way to the WEST COAST?
Why not just stop in Colorado, buy it legally, pay the local taxes and claim the Interstate Commerce for legality of goods in transport.

rebellious 08/05/14 - 08:01 am

Your comment surprises. State laws should be enforced by the State and prosecuted according to the State justice structure.

Don't fall into the Obama "Fairness" trap.

Riverman1 08/05/14 - 09:17 am

Rebel, I believe the War on Drugs is an abject failure exactly as Prohibition was. It's also bred the same kind of criminal activity as Prohibition. Pot is the first thing I'd decriminalize because it is as benign as alcohol.

I find it ironic pot is not illegal in some places, yet this guy gets 5 years. I'm also assuming he has no other criminal history. Danny Craig seemed to almost apologize for the sentence.

Does any of this mean I'm in favor of pot or drug use? Heck, no. I'd still do everything I could to encourage people not to use it, alcohol, tobacco or any kind of drug.

I will say, Rebel, you're right, if it's the law, we have to enforce it and it's certainly the law in Georgia. Still I can point out the absurdities.

GiantsAllDay 08/05/14 - 11:16 am
nocnoc, in Colorado residents

nocnoc, in Colorado residents are allowed to buy 1 oz at a time. Non residents are allowed to buy 1/4 oz at a time. A non resident would have to make a LOT of visits to pot stores in order to acquire 20 pounds. Also, if a non resident buys a little pot in Colorado and puts in in his vehicle, the instant he leaves the state, he has committed a federal crime once he crosses the state line. I am sympathetic to private users, but 20 pounds is a WHOLE LOT OF WEED! Most of the states that allow recreational and/or medical use have done so via the voter initiative process NOT the legislature. Since Georgia does not have the initiative process, it will be almost the last state to legalize pot. Hell, this backwards legislature wouldn't even approve cannabis oil (that produces no high) that would only help only ONE category of medical patient. That category is children who have a rare type of seizure. If their old tired ethics prevent them from helping innocent children, what makes anyone believe that they will legalize it any time soon?

GiantsAllDay 08/05/14 - 11:18 am
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