Man Held In Oklahoma Jail For Possessing Legal Weed Still Faces Court Battle

Police knew it was only rosemary, kept him 25 days anyway

Charged with driving under influence despite clean blood test

October 1, 1998, Montpelier, VT: A Vermont man who spent 25 days in an Oklahoma jail for possessing legal herbs still faces prosecution by unrelenting state officials.

"He's not guilty of anything but being black and having ... dreadlocks and driving in Oklahoma," said attorney Jim Hadley, who is handling the case.

Police jailed defendant George Singleton earlier this year on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance after seizing a bag of what they presumed was marijuana during a traffic stop. Blood tests later found Singleton to be drug and alcohol free, and identified the herbs in question to be rosemary and mullein. Shockingly, police continued to hold Singleton in custody under a little known state law prohibiting an individual from possessing any substance that looks similar to an illegal drug.

Singleton made bail after 25 days, but must return to Oklahoma next Thursday to face charges of driving under the influence, The Associated Press reported. State officials admitted the charge is unusual considering blood tests determined Singleton was drug free at the time of his arrest.

"It is an unusual case because of the fact that we don't have proof of any illegal substance," Oklahoma District Attorney Gene Hayes said. The state will not go forward with charges that Singleton possessed a "look-alike" substance, the AP reported.

"The absurdity of this prosecution illustrates how far our laws have run amok because of our nation's misguided war on marijuana smokers," said attorney Tanya Kangas, director of litigation for The NORML Foundation.

For more information, please contact Tanya Kangas of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.

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