Saturday, April 21, 2007

Drug possession charges against Alex City gubernatorial candidate dropped

Updated: Friday, April 20, 2007

Drug possession charges against Alex City gubernatorial candidate dropped

By Patrick McCreless

After years of court battles, U.S. Marijuana Party founder Loretta Nall of Alexander City was cleared Friday of drug possession charges in a Tallapoosa County circuit court.

"I'm almost speechless," Nall said. "It's been a long time coming."

The Tallapoosa County Narcotics Task Force arrested Nall in a November 2002 raid on her house where 0.87 grams of marijuana was discovered. She was convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia in district court in February 2004. Nall appealed the conviction to circuit court, seeking to suppress the evidence used to obtain the search warrant for the raid on her house.

Investigators obtained a search warrant by using a letter to the editor that Nall wrote to the Birmingham News in support of changing marijuana laws and by using statements made by Nall's daughter in her kindergarten class.

"They illegally questioned my daughter and violated my right to free speech," Nall said. "The judge ruled it a bad search and the judge dropped the charges."

Tallapoosa County Circuit Judge Ray Martin made the decision to suppress the warrant on Tuesday, but the decision was not finalized until Friday. Nall said Friday was also the unofficially recognized National Pot Smokers Day.

"That's pretty ironic," she said.

District Attorney E. Paul Jones, who was working on another case outside the county at the time of the decision, said there was little chance the state would pursue the case any further.

"In drug cases, not much can be done if the drugs are suppressed," Jones said.

Nall said she felt vindicated by the judge's ruling but that she was not finished with the case.

"Lawsuits are exactly what my plans are right now," she said. "I want some retribution. "They need to get out their checkbooks."

Now that the charges have been dropped, Nall also plans to continue running for political office. In 2010, Nall said she would definitely run for Rep. Betty Carol Graham's seat in the Alabama House of Representatives.

Nall also has aspirations of running against Rep. Mike Rogers in 2008.

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