A good Samaritan who offered a pinch of marijuana to soothe a stressed out stranger only to have his compassion repaid with felony charges was acquitted following a jury trial, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.
After three hours of deliberation, a jury on Wednesday found Stetson Qualls Jones, 24, not guilty of possession of marijuana for sale and sale of marijuana. If convicted, Qualls Jones faced up to three years in state prison, said his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Ariel Boyce-Smith.
Qualls Jones’ ordeal began Feb. 5 while hanging out with friends in the “Hippy Hill” area of Golden Gate Park. The group was socializing and smoking marijuana when Qualls Jones thought he recognized a man approaching the group and waved him over. Upon closer inspection, Qualls Jones realized the man was a stranger, but welcomed him regardless. When Qualls Jones invited him to smoke with the group, the man declined, asking instead if he could buy marijuana.
Qualls Jones testified that he told the man that he did not sell marijuana. The man appeared agitated and stressed out, so Qualls Jones reached into his personal stash, pinched off a small amount of marijuana, and handed it to the man, who turned out to be a police decoy.
Qualls Jones, who lives a communal lifestyle and frowns upon capitalism, testified that he refused the $20 the man offered him in exchange for the marijuana.
After the interaction, Qualls Jones was swarmed by five to six police officers, who were conducting a sting operation. Police found a bag of less than 1 ounce of marijuana in his jacket pocket. Police testified they found the $20 under a blanket where Qualls Jones was sitting.