‘Little social gathering’ results in trip to jail

‘Little social gathering’ results in trip to jail

Posted: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 10:26 pm
By: John Brannon, Staff Reporter

Part 2 of 2
By JOHN BRANNON
Staff Reporter
Much to his regret, Jonathan Kirby Parker of Union City had his own experience with synthetic marijuana sold under the brand name “PEP Spice.” It may send him to state prison for 10 years.
Parker, 39, is a participant in the 27th Judicial District (Obion and Weakley counties) drug court program.
Parker was interviewed Friday at the Obion County Law Enforcement Complex, where he is incarcerated, pending a revocation hearing at 9 a.m. Friday in Obion County Circuit Court.
“We have five participants who must have had a little social gathering. They went to jail immediately when we found out about it,” Obion County General Sessions Judge Jimmy Smith said.
Smith presides over drug court with Obion County Circuit Court Judge Bill Acree Jr. and Weakley County General Sessions Judge Tommy Moore.
“When confronted with it, they admitted it. They thought it was legal for them to use. It wasn’t.”
Three of the five have been released; two are still incarcerated. Parker is one of the two. “We are reviewing their cases,” Smith said.
Before petitioning the court for membership in the drug court program, Parker was convicted of a nonviolent crime and sentenced to 10 years in prison. By getting approval to join the drug court program, he sidestepped going to prison.
But the program has hard and fast rules, among which are weekly sessions with counselors and weekly drug screen testing. Those who backslide are “sanctioned,” meaning sent to jail for up to 30 days. Those who consistently backslide are usually kicked out of the program and dispatched to state prison to serve their original sentences.
Such is the plight of Parker.
The “little social gathering,” as Smith characterized it, is what got him busted recently.
Surprise, surprise
They may have read and believed what Wikipedia, the free Internet encyclopedia, had to say about JWH-018, one of several banned chemicals in Spice and other incense products.
It asserts JWH-018 produces effects very similar to cannabis, or marijuana, but “does not show up in drug tests and is considerably more potent than similar amounts of cannabis.” One medical researcher said JWH-018 “has no medical use. It’s like LSD. The only thing it’s good for is getting you high.”
The party
It’s also good for getting you thrown in jail, as Parker well knows.
He said he and his buddies purchased Spice at a local convenience store July 23, paying $11 “and some change” for a packet imprinted with the caveat, “Not for human consumption.”
“It was green and leafy-looking,” he said. “You smoke it. Roll it like a blunt cigar. It’s just like marijuana. I smoked it and got so high, it scared me. It was some of the best marijuana I ever smoked in my life, and I’ve been doing drugs since I was 10. I got high on it, stayed high about three hours.
“I smoked it on a Friday, went to drug court on Monday and passed the drug screen test. I did not smoke any more. But on the 10th day, I took a drug test and failed it for marijuana. According to (counselor) Dr. Johnny Welch, it metabolizes in your body different than marijuana. It just took longer to show up.”
Regrets
Parker said he’s worried the court may send him back to prison. “If I go back to prison, I’m afraid something bad will happen that I’ll never recover from,” he said.
And yes, he admits his guilt.
“Like an idiot, I used that stuff,” he said. “It scared me to death, because I got stoned. I’m (enrolled) in drug court. We aren’t even allowed to drink beer. There’s no excuse I can give you to justify my smoking it. It’s a hard lesson and it’ll probably get harder if I have to go back to prison.
“Who put me here? I put me here. I failed the drug test. That’s why I’m here in jail. I’m begging the court for one more chance. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get back into drug court. Drug court has  changed my life.
“To parents and other people who don’t know about this (incense) stuff, it is a drug. It will get you stoned.
“I’m not condoning anything I’ve done. I’m not looking for any sympathy.
“I’d be willing to go around to high schools and tell my story. The  only way I can help me is help somebody else.”
Published in The Messenger 9.1.10

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