Delaware attorney defends pot cases for free


Delaware is known for having some of the most obscene and outdated pot laws in the United States, with possession of even small amounts of the ganja punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,150. Not only is this powdered wig injustice smearing the permanent records of many citizens who would not otherwise have a criminal history, but in most cases, these people cannot even afford the proper legal council to give them a fighting chance in court.
Fortunately, attorney Thomas Donovan maintains the belief that petty pot offenders should not have to shell out big bucks for a solid legal defense, which is why he now offers free legal services to stoners.

“It’s something sort of natural for me to go ahead and offer this kind of representation, to help end a costly, failing and racially biased policy,” said Donovan, during a recent interview with USA Today. “I feel a duty to stand up for people who are being penalized for this,” he said, adding that he hopes more lawyers across the United States will follow in his footsteps.
Earlier last year, the American Civil Liberties Union published a controversial study that painted a grim portrait of Delaware law enforcement spending more money enforcing marijuana laws than most states in the nation, reporting a 102 percent increase in pot-related arrests in under a decade. What’s more is the study found that although blacks attributed to only about 22 percent of Delaware’s population, they accounted for nearly 50 percent of its marijuana arrests.
“It seems to be a problem not only here in Delaware but all across the country,” said Donovan. “That says to me, let’s have an open and honest dialogue about this.”
State prosecutors argue there is nothing to discuss because the Delaware court system does not typically send individuals to prison just because they were caught in possession of a little weed. “Instead, those individuals are generally entered into Delaware’s drug diversion treatment program,” said Jason Miller with the Attorney General’s Office, adding that the state only put nine out of the 2,632 people arrested last year for minor pot possession in jail.
Despite recent legislation aimed at decriminalizing marijuana in Delaware, lawmakers and law enforcement fought to ensure the measure would not be successful. Even when Representative Helene Keeley, who sponsored the decrim bill, testified that pot convictions are driving citizens into economic ruins by making it difficult for them to find gainful employment, the measure failed to garner any momentum.
It is for this reason that Donovan says he decided to start offering complimentary legal services for pot offenders. “I was a little frustrated with that whole process,” he said. “So, this was something that I could do.”
Yet, Donovan says there is one stipulation: all of his pro-bono work is for misdemeanor offenses only. Anyone charged with a felony, such as distribution, will have to pay for council.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in High Times, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.