WILMINGTON — A local man, who has smoked marijuana since his time as a U.S. Marine in the Vietnam War, was placed on community controls for growing marijuana, a felony.
Victor P. Lewis, 65, of Clarksville, also was found guilty of a second felony: having guns though he’s not legally allowed due to past convictions.
According to defense attorney Tony Baker, his client basically has used marijuana since returning from Vietnam, including a prior marijuana cultivation charge “some 25 years ago” in Florida. Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck counted four incidents in Lewis’ background where marijuana “brought you to the criminal justice system.”
Rudduck wondered aloud, “Are you able to change, after 40-some years?”
Later, Lewis said, “As far as smoking pot, I have a bad problem with it.” He later added he wished he never got hooked on it.
At one juncture, Lewis admitted he doesn’t know if anything else can take the place of marijuana for him.
He said he took drug classes in Florida and did quit smoking marijuana “for a while.” A more permanent benefit of those classes, Lewis said, was they helped him quit drinking alcohol.
Rudduck said from the bench he is Lewis’ age and he knows “what it was like during that period of time.” The judge said though he was in the military he wasn’t deployed to Vietnam, but he had friends who did go there so he knows what it was like in terms of drugs.
The judge encouraged Lewis to go to the Clinton County Veterans Service Commission which he said provides “very good veterans services.”
There are ways to treat medical issues, such as Lewis’ bad back, other than “illegally self-medicating,” said Rudduck. It will take “will and discipline” to stay off marijuana, the judge said, adding, “As a Marine, you should have the discipline. It will pain me to see you back in here [court].”
Prosecution stood silent Wednesday on the question of Lewis’ sentence.
Lewis’ term of community controls is for two years. A six-month jail term was suspended with credit given for four days he served in the county jail.
As a result of the marijuana cultivation conviction, his license to drive was suspended for six months. Driving privileges might be granted, however.
A fine of $1,000 was ordered.
In addition, Lewis is forfeiting any interest in 28 firearms that were seized after he was charged with illegally having weapons. Lewis said none of the firearms belong to him but rather to siblings or their families.
He also forfeited $600.
If Lewis breaks the terms of community controls, he faces a possible 18-month prison term.
Gary Huffenberger can be reached at 937-382-2574, ext. 2512 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.