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Marijuana Turned Out To Be Fake

Fri., April 5, 1996

Ronald Thiel spent the last eight months in jail because he thought he broke the law. Second District Judge John Bengtson now agrees he didn’t.

Two months after the work was completed, the Idaho Bureau of Forensic Services finally gave Latah County authorities its analysis of the alleged marijuana Thiel had pleaded guilty to possessing.

The analysts may have misspelled the word, but neatly typed again and again on their report was “marihuana not detected.”

“Zip lock bag containing 13.9 grams of plant material.”

“Marihuana not detected.”

“Handrolled cigarettes with green plant material.”

“Marihuana not detected.”

It might have been parsley or oregano. It clearly was not illegal.

“He took it well,” public defender Gregory Dickison said. “He obviously thought it was dope.”

Thiel was arrested last summer on the drug charges and his parole on an unrelated offense was immediately revoked. He was jailed as a parole violator and finally pleaded guilty to the drug charge last Jan. 23 - five days after the date on the completed forensic analysis.

Why it took two months for the analysis to reach the Latah County prosecutor was unclear.

But on Wednesday, Bengtson dismissed the drug charge. Dickison said a separate proceeding with the Department of Correction will be initiated to have Thiel’s parole reinstated.

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