Man who bought pot sold at school gets probation
Hector Ruiz’s record will be wiped clean if he completes 48 hours of community service and two years of probation for providing marijuana edibles to a high schooler who later distributed them at Coal Ridge High School. He will also be prohibited from possessing or using marijuana during his probation.
Authorities first became aware of the situation Feb. 4, after a student reported feeling sick after eating part of a cookie and tested positive for marijuana on a home drug test. The girl told police that said she had been given the cookie at school and didn’t know it was drugged. After interviews and discussions with several students in the presence of their parents or guardians, it was determined that nine students had been involved in distributing, purchasing or consuming the edibles.
A 16-year-old student ultimately admitted to paying Ruiz $60 to purchase some marijuana-infused cookies and gummies at a marijuana store in Silt, then providing the edibles to two other students for sale at the school. According to Ruiz’s arrest affidavit, the student told police that he “wanted to start his own business to prove that he could be a good businessman and make money.”
Ruiz, 21, of Rifle, pleaded guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor and assured the court he never intended the edibles to enter the school.
In a sentencing hearing Thursday afternoon, Deputy District Attorney Peter Beyel, defense attorney Garth McCarty, and Judge Daniel Petre each agreed that the deferred judgment was appropriate.
“I’m going to chalk this up as an error in judgment gone wrong,” Beyel said.
Beyel disagreed with the probationary recommendation for substance abuse treatment, but did advocate community service.
“He did cause harm to the community and to the children who bought the substances,” he said.
McCarty spoke highly of Ruiz’s character and compared his treatment of marijuana to some adult’s attitudes on a glass of wine with dinner. Ruiz’s own ability to consume in moderation may have caused him to underestimate the negative impacts on others, particularly teenagers, he contended.
“He’s an educated young man. He is an athlete,” McCarty said. “He is the opposite of that perception that some of us have of young people smoking marijuana.”
Ruiz told the court he’d learned his lesson.
“I made an error. I learned from it. It’s not going to happen again,” he said. “I just want to get over this and continue to live my life.”
In delivering his judgment, Petre strongly encouraged Ruiz to take the second chance and avoid “the albatross of a felony conviction.”
While he seemed to accept Ruiz’s assertion that the 16-year-old had promised not to share the edibles, he viewed the transaction as “monumentally poor judgment.”
“Mr. Ruiz has in fact pled guilty to a pretty serious crime, but his lack of criminal history and the fact that this is just sort of criminal bad judgment warrants this sort of deferred judgment,” Petre said.
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Policy that dictates what for-profit activities should be officially sanctioned within Glenwood Springs parks is being reviewed by city staff and will likely come before the city council for final approval later this summer.