Posted: November 11th, 2015 | By: Lisa Snedeker
ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Buncombe prosecutors have dropped marijuana possession charges against a disabled Candler veteran.
The veteran, Melvin Cagle, 54, was using marijuana for medical purposes and to relieve pain, his attorney said.
Cagle was charged Jan. 12 with felony possession of marijuana, felony possession of marijuana with the intent to manufacture/sell/deliver, felony maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for a controlled substance, and misdemeanor possession of marijuana paraphernalia, according to Buncombe arrest records.
The charges were dropped last week by the District Attorney’s Office.
Cagle, who served in the Marine Corps, is fully disabled and has a degenerative bone disease, his attorney, Joseph Bowman, said. Cagle has some service-related injuries, but those did not cause the bone condition, Bowman said.
Cagle turned to marijuana out of desperation to get relief from pain, Bowman said.
The county’s top prosecutor said there was no evidence Cagle engaged in drug trafficking and said Cagle had no prior drug record.
“These cases were continued for nearly a year to ensure that he posed no threat to the community and that there was no ongoing criminal activity,” District Attorney Todd Williams said in a written statement.
Cagle also paid a tax penalty to the state of more than $1,500.
“While we are charged with enforcing the law, the DA’s Office will often defer prosecution in the interests of justice on a case by case basis, as we did here,” Williams said in the statement.
A criminal law professor at Wake Forest University, Ron Wright, said shifting charges down or dropping them in this type of case isn’t that unusual, and higher level charges might have been filed originally because of the amount of marijuana. Often, prosecutors may later determine people have such amounts because they want the supply to last longer, the professor said.
“Generally speaking, prosecutors are not as concerned with users as they are with dealers,” Wright said.