San Francisco Man Stetson Qualls Jones Spends 4 Days In Jail For Alleged 'Pinch' Of Pot

06/06/2014 12:36 pm ET | Updated Jun 06, 2014

The war on drugs is alive and well, even in one of America's most liberal cities.

A man who was accused of offering a "pinch" of marijuana to an undercover San Francisco cop spent four days in jail for a charge he was later acquitted of.

A jury found Stetson Qualls Jones not guilty of felony possession and sale of marijuana on Wednesday, according to the San Francisco Public Defender's Office.

From a press release published by the public defender's office:

Qualls Jones’ ordeal began Feb. 5 while hanging out with friends in the “Hippy Hill” area of Golden Gate Park. The group was socializing and smoking marijuana when Qualls Jones thought he recognized a man approaching the group and waved him over. Upon closer inspection, Qualls Jones realized the man was a stranger, but welcomed him regardless. When Qualls Jones invited him to smoke with the group, the man declined, asking instead if he could buy marijuana.

Qualls Jones testified that he told the man that he did not sell marijuana. The man appeared agitated and stressed out, so Qualls Jones reached into his personal stash, pinched off a small amount of marijuana, and handed it to the man, who turned out to be a police decoy.

Police said they found the $20 bill the cop had offered in exchange for the marijuana under a blanket Qualls Jones was sitting on.

Two officers also testified that they were paid overtime for this sort of bust, including the one that nabbed Qualls Jones.

After being arrested, Qualls Jones spent four days in jail before he was released.

Qualls Jones was found guilty of possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana and fined $25.

"A tremendous amount of city resources were wasted in a manufactured case against a man who was minding his own business," San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said, according to SF Weekly. "San Franciscans have been very clear about marijuana enforcement and I am not surprised a jury rejected this case."

The public defender's office said the city passed an ordinance in 2006 that made marijuana offenses the police department's lowest priority. But the law didn't include the sale of marijuana in its list of offenses.

Drug war opponents have frequently criticized drug fighting policies because, they say, the strategies encourage police officers to pursue low-level drug offenders so they can get overtime pay and increase their arrest statistics.

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