Kingman mayor's son sentenced for marijuana grow
4/26/2013 6:01:00 AM
By Doug McMurdo
KINGMAN - Had James Trenton "Trent" Salem been arrested prior to November 2010, the month Arizonans approved medical marijuana, the 19-year-old son of Mayor John Salem might be headed to prison rather than three weeks in the county jail and a term of probation.
Salem also must perform 150 hours of community service and pay hundreds of dollars in fees and fines.
In handing down his sentence, Superior Court Judge Derek Carlisle acknowledged he would follow the spirit of the medical marijuana law and the "will of the people."
Salem pleaded guilty earlier this spring to one count of facilitating the cultivation of marijuana. He was indicted on a much more serious charge of marijuana production.
Salem told Carlisle that he has turned his life around since his arrest last August.
"I no longer smoke marijuana," Salem told Carlisle prior to sentencing. "I have made tremendous strides." His mother addressed the court and confirmed her son has "completely turned his life around" over the past eight months.
Salem has been involved in a 12-step program at his church and he has a full-time job.
"Not only am I willing to stop (using marijuana)," he said, "I have stopped."
Salem made his comments in response to information contained in his pre-sentence report. Salem reportedly told police he would never give up smoking weed.
Salem was arrested with two other people last August at a home in the 3600 block of Wells Street in Kingman.
All three men carried valid medical marijuana cards, but the 77 marijuana plants, four pounds of cultivated marijuana and hashish made from oil in the plants far exceeded the 12 plants and two-and-a-half ounces each cardholder could legally possess.
Still, Carlisle acknowledged the state's medical marijuana law and society's evolving opinion toward the drug's use have altered how he approaches such cases today compared to the past.
In other words, had Salem been arrested prior to voter approval of medical marijuana, he could have been headed to prison for a number of years.
Still, Carlisle didn't give Salem a free pass.
Despite several pleas from letter writers who asked the judge not to sentence Salem to jail time, Carlisle did.
He said jail time is ordered to punish offenders or to act as a deterrent. He made it clear Salem was sentenced as a punishment.
He was given credit for two days he served following his arrest and will be allowed to participate in the jail's work release program. Salem must surrender to the jail by May 20.
If Salem successfully completes his three years on probation, the charges will be reduced to a misdemeanor.
If he fails, he faces up to two years in prison and will be a convicted felon.