Terminal cancer patient fined $2,000 for marijuana
LIHUE » A cancer patient with a medical marijuana license from California said he was relieved that he avoided jail time after being sentenced last week for promotion of marijuana.
Keith Bierlich of Kilauea was instead fined $2,000, despite using the marijuana for medical purposes. Bierlich has asbestos cancer in his stomach and esophagus, according to his lawyer.
Bierlich was arrested last year with 1.2 pounds of marijuana that was shipped to him from the mainland. That is well above the legal amount for someone with a medical marijuana license to legally possess.
Instead, he was charged with first-degree promotion of a detrimental drug, a felony that has a imprisonment of up to five years. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge, second-degree promotion, in August.
In Bierlich's defense, lawyer Daniel Hempey said his client "moved to Kauai to die" and should not be treated the same as a recreational user.
He used it "to relieve pain and nausea and to allow himself to eat," Hempey added. "He ordered a large supply" so he would not have to buy it in the street.
Bierlich has since sworn off all pain medication and marijuana, Hempey continued, and has turned to acupuncture.
While Deputy Prosecutor Rosa Flores argued that Bierlich admitted smoking marijuana well before his cancer diagnosis, she also asked for no jail time.
Circuit Judge George Masuoka agreed but added that if Bierlich was in his court again, he would have no problem sending him to spend his last days in jail.
TV official guilty of lesser drug charge
LIHUE » The managing director of Kauai's public access television station pleaded guilty to a petty misdemeanor marijuana charge yesterday.
Jay Robertson, 53, who was originally charged with commercial promotion of marijuana, had his charges dropped to a petty misdemeanor after a plea deal with prosecutors. He paid a $150 fine.
His co-defendants, David Hibbitt and Nathan Prather, also received reduced sentences from the original promotion charges. Prather pleaded guilty to a petty misdemeanor and paid a $150 fine, but Hibbitt faces up to five years in prison after pleading to felony marijuana possession. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 23.
According to Daniel Hempey, Robertson's lawyer, the result was a bit of vindication for his client, who had been accused of harboring 10 pounds of marijuana in his house.
Hempey said that the box containing those drugs were never near his client.
According to police, Prather received the marijuana via mail, in a post office box. Police said he later brought it to Hibbitt's house and then to Robertson's Omao residence.
But, Hempey said, those drugs stayed in Prather's car, and Robertson had no knowledge they were there.