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Smithsburg man sentenced to probation before judgment for growing marjuana

Earl Augustus Shorday III said he grew the drug to treat his medical problems

January 20, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — A Washington County Circuit Court judge Thursday sentenced a Smithsburg man to probation before judgment for growing marijuana the defendant claimed was to treat his late mother's and his medical conditions.

Earl Augustus Shorday III, 48, of 22240 Jefferson Blvd., pleaded guilty to manufacturing marijuana for growing seven plants in his backyard. Charges of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Maryland State Police found the marijuana growing among vegetables in Shorday's backyard in August, Robert Veil, the supervising state's attorney for the Washington County Narcotics Task Force, told Judge Daniel P. Dwyer.

His attorney, John R. Salvatore, said Shorday grew it for his own medical problems, including arthritis, depression, high blood pressure and an unconfirmed diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

"He was not selling or distributing," said Salvatore, who told the judge that Shorday has no previous criminal record.

Shorday told Dwyer his mother had also smoked marijuana for pain relief prior to her death from cancer.

If Shorday had been found to have possessed marijuana for medical necessities, he would have been subject to only a $100 fine under current Maryland law, Dwyer said. However, Shorday had no prescription, the judge said.

Dwyer placed Shorday on unsupervised probation for three years, fined him $1,000 and ordered that he abstain from non-prescribed drugs. Under probation before judgment, a person may have a criminal charge expunged from his or her record if the terms of the probation are successfully completed.

The Maryland Senate passed a bill in Annapolis last year that would have protected patients from arrest and prosecution for possession of medical marijuana. But the bill did not come up for a vote in the House of Delegates.

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