It seems Dr. Seuss’s infamous Grinch may have relocated to Florida as police in St. Petersburg arrested a man over the weekend for giving away marijuana to celebrate the holiday season. Arrested in this case was Richard Ellis Spurrier, 67, of St. Petersburg.
Police say that they contacted Spurrier at about 11 p.m. on Saturday night on 2nd St. N. in St. Petersburg because they had been told by a witness that he was handing out marijuana to strangers as they passed by on the street. After approaching Spurrier, police say they noticed a small amount of marijuana shake on the sleeve of his shirt.
A search of Spurrier’s backpack by law enforcement officers yielded 45 grams of marijuana and a prescription bottle with the man’s name on it, according to media reports. A purple glass pipe and a digital scale, both with marijuana residue, were also discovered. Officers also found a sword hidden in the cane Spurrier carried.
According to a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office booking report, Spurrier has been charged with two crimes. The first, possession of marijuana with intent to sell or distribute, has been charged as a felony because the amount of cannabis confiscated by police exceeds 20 grams. If convicted of the offense, Spurrier could spend up to five years in prison and be subject to a fine of up to $5,000. He was also arrested on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor in the first degree that is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Although Florida has legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes, recreational marijuana is still illegal in the state. Qualified patients with a doctor’s recommendation are only permitted to purchase medical marijuana at dispensaries licensed by the state. Florida currently has nearly 300,000 qualified patients with a valid medical marijuana identification card, according to data from the state’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use.
Not the First Time
This isn’t the first time a man has been arrested for giving away pot for free during the holiday season. In 2015, 57-year-old Randy Lange of California’s Monterey Peninsula was taken into custody by police after he entered a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant dressed as Santa Claus and began handing out marijuana wrapped in napkins to the eatery’s patrons, saying that “he was Santa and that he had a gift for them.”
After customers called police, officers found plastic bags containing two pounds of pot on him and placed him under arrest.
“He told me he likes giving out marijuana. I have never experienced anything like this,” said Sergeant Nicolas Borges of the Seaside Police Department.