One pot plant could mean seven years in prison
Stars and Stripes June 15, 2007
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A Kubasaki High School social studies teacher faces up to seven years in prison if convicted on a Japanese indictment of growing a single marijuana plant.
David Jones, who was charged Wednesday, was being held in the Naha Detention Center pending trial in Naha Circuit Court. No court date has been set.
He has been in police custody since May 21 after a search of his off-base home in Chatan, near Kadena Air Base, that turned up a marijuana plant and pipes containing traces of the illegal drug, police said.
According to the indictment, Jones grew the plant in his yard between September 2006 and mid-April.
Police said investigators believe Jones was growing the plant for his own use and do not suspect him of selling marijuana.
Wednesday marked the deadline for holding Jones without indictment. Under Japanese law, suspects can be held and interrogated up to 23 days before being charged.
Jones, a Department of Defense Dependents Schools teacher for 10 years, is married to a middle school special education teacher. They have three daughters.
Jones had been placed on administrative leave pending the results of an internal DODDS investigation prior to his arrest. That investigation remains open.
According to a teacher familiar with the investigation, Jones’ wife also was placed on administrative leave.
A third instructor, a Kubasaki High English teacher with more than 20 years in the DODDS system, reportedly is also on leave in connection with the Jones investigation.
DODDS-Pacific officials would not confirm how many teachers were put on administrative leave in connection with the Jones investigation. But they said placing personnel on administrative leave pending an investigation does not necessarily mean they are suspects.
They also cite that DODDS has a near zero-tolerance policy for drug use.
“DODDS-Pacific/DDESS-Guam takes seriously any use of illegal substances by employees, whether on or off duty,” said DODDS spokesman Chip Steitz in a written response to a Stars and Stripes query.
“Instances of alleged use of illegal substances by employees are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and the appropriate administrative action is taken,” he said. “It is not necessary that an employee be convicted of criminal activity for DODDS to take appropriate administrative action.”
Steitz would not comment on the nature of the internal investigation involving the teachers.
“Upon conclusion of the investigation by the authorities, DODDS may conduct its own administrative review,” he added.
Stars and Stripes reporter Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.