The Berry Dilemna

By Jason Priestas on June 12, 2009 at 7:00 am
Jaamal Berry on a better day

The Herald has more on on the Berry arrest:

Police stopped Berry around midnight for running a stoplight in a silver Nissan Altima near the intersection of Southwest 120th Street and SW 117th Avenue. Officers noticed a bag of marijuana in the prep star's backseat, according to a Miami-Dade Police Department report. The report said the bag contained about 28 grams of marijuana.

So, the kid had about an ounce on him and you can make a case that there's intent to distribute, but in reality, the intent was probably directed at nothing more than a couple of close friends looking to celebrate graduation.

For decades, American teenagers have sought out the lettuce to celebrate this occasion -- even choir boys. And while I'm probably more liberal in my beliefs here than some of you, it's still a violation of the law and Tressel has a decision to make with summer quarter just over a week away.

The linked article goes on to provide a little background:

While most first time offenders do not receive the maximum penalties in marijuana possession cases, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement report shows that Berry, 18, was also arrested and charged with ''loitering or prowling'' on Dec. 23, 2006. No further information is available regarding that case, as Berry was a juvenile at the time. It is also unknown if that case will have any impact on the prosecution of Thursday's drug charge.

Berry may still get a chance to enroll, but he'll be living large in the doghouse once he does. Eugene Clifford faced a similar situation and was still accepted into the program, though Clifford earned a misdemeanor, while Berry, living under much stiffer drug laws in Florida1 was hit up with a felony.

Buckeye Commentary with further historical context:

The first question out of most fan's mouth is whether he will ever play for Ohio State. While these are not perfect parallels, the last two Ohio State arrest for marijuana are Jonathan Skeete's pot trafficking bust in 2005 and Eric Haw's arrest a week later for a more pedestrian grade offense for smoking a joint outside a dorm. Skeete was never heard from again. Haw played one more year in the program until his transfer to Jackson State. Berry's arrest falls somewhere in between in my perspective as Berry had less than an ounce.

Odds are, he pleads down to a misdemeanor (see Brandon James) and Tressel does the right thing and accepts Berry into the program on a tight leash with maybe a game or two suspension to start the season. What would you do in his shoes?

1 FWIW, the 20g+ that triggers a felony in Florida would be just a minor misdemeanor in Ohio (up to 100g), which carries just a $100 fine and no mark on a criminal record. I blame Crockett and Tubbs.