Felony Marijuana Charges Dismissed Against 94-Year-Old War Veteran in Charlotte, North Carolina


Several months ago, our very own Russ Belville helped publicize the plight of Douglas Floyd Ponischil, a 94-year old veteran of World War II, who had been arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina, on felony marijuana possession charges (“Rest Easy, Charlotte. The 94-Year-Old Marijuana Consumer Has Been Arrested!“). Mr. Ponischil wasn’t growing any marijuana and he certainly wasn’t a marijuana dealer. The absurdity of that felony arrest against an elderly war hero with absolutely no criminal history, galvanized national support for the man and just further added to the motivation that fuels Drug War reformers.

I decided to check up on Mr. Ponischil, but found that any update of his case was lacking any media attention and it didn’t pop up on “Google News”. I was pleasantly surprised to see that his lawyer had posted an update on his firm’s page. The charges had been dismissed! From the Law Office of Christopher Connelly:

Attorney Chris Connelly was honored to represent Douglas Ponischil in this marijuana felony case and secure a dismissal.  Mr. Ponischil is a 94 yo WWII combat veteran who survived a U Boat attack that left him in the dangerous waters of the Caribbean for several days until rescue.

He had never had any adverse contact with the law until March of 2015 when police raided his house and arrested him, accusing him of felony possession of marijuana. This arrest ocurred several weeks after marijuana had been mailed to his home on someone else’s behalf.  Instead of investigating whether this 94 year old vet was perhaps being taken advantage of by others, law enforcement arrested him and put him in jail.

After months of negotiations with prosecutors, Attorney Chris Connelly was able to convince them to dismiss these charges against Mr. Ponischil.

I would like to personally thank attorney Christopher Connelly for his work on this case and I’m sure that I’m joined by the entire cannabis community. The thought that a man could survive a Nazi U Boat attack in World War II and then be arrested and taken into a jail because of an American Drug War being waged upon its own citizens is sickening to me. It is rather astonishing that trained law enforcement officers didn’t think that they could do some further investigation or just write a ticket and felt the need to arrest a man in his mid-90s.

I’m just glad that Mr. Ponischil had good representation and can hopefully put this whole ordeal behind him and enjoy the rest of his time on this planet without worrying that the next knock on his door isn’t going to be armed officers taking him to jail. Despite the dismissal of these ridiculous charges, the fact that a World War II war veteran without any criminal record would be arrested for cannabis possession demonstrates the fact that no one, or even our pets, are safe until we end the failed and harmful Drug War.

WWII vet Douglas Ponishil
Such a shame that police officers felt the need to arrest a 94-year old WWII vet with no criminal record and haul him off to jail.

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.