SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A man who allegedly offered a pinch of marijuana to an undercover San Francisco police officer posing as a stressed out stranger in Golden Gate Park last winter, was acquitted Thursday of felony marijuana charges.
According to the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, a jury found Stetson Qualls Jones, 24, not guilty of possession and sale of marijuana.
The incident occurred on Feb. 5 when Qualls Jones, who was hanging out with friends smoking marijuana at the park’s “Hippie Hill,” invited a man he originally thought he recognized to join him for a smoke. The man declined, but asked if he could buy marijuana.
According to the public defender’s office, Qualls Jones told the man that he didn’t sell marijuana, but offered him a small amount from his personal stash when the man became agitated.
The agitated man, it turned out, was an undercover police officer.
During the trial, Qualls Jones said he lives a communal lifestyle and frowns upon capitalism. He told jurors he refused the $20 offered by the man in exchange for the marijuana.
After that interaction, police officers found a bag containing less than once ounce of marijuana in his jacket pocket.
Police arrested Qualls Jones, and he spent four days in jail before being released by a judge.
During the trial, two police officers testified that they were receiving overtime pay in exchange for the buy-bust operation.
The police department receives federal grants for the stings, according to the public defender’s office.
“Despite conducting a well-funded operation, police did not bother to gather any corroborating evidence,” Quall Jones’ attorney, Ariel Boyce-Smith said.
“There wasn’t a single photograph taken or a single witness interviewed despite the fact that Mr. Qualls Jones was sitting with six other people in the park,” she added.
Throughout the trial, the public defender’s office said Qualls Jones repeated a rhyme that summed up his legal experience: “He didn’t accept a dime/they made up this crime/while they were getting paid overtime.”
Qualls Jones was found guilty of possession of less than one once of marijuana and fined $25.