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Substitute judge faces pot charge

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James H. Allamong Jr.







Shed fire leads to discovery of marijuana plants on attorney's property

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

FISHERS HILL -- Prominent local attorney and substitute judge James H. Allamong Jr. is free on his own recognizance after marijuana plants were found on his property, according to the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office.

"A large number" of marijuana plants were found growing on his property at 1817 Copp Road when firefighters responded to a fire at a nearby outbuilding there Monday afternoon, Shenandoah County Sheriff's Maj. Scott Proctor said.

"Firefighters on the scene reported that they noticed what appeared to be several marijuana plants next to the structure that was on fire," he said.

Proctor said the marijuana is believed to have a street value of more than $150,000.
In a Wednesday evening phone interview, Allamong said the marijuana was for his own use, and that he has to report his charges to the state judicial inquiry and review commission.

"It was for personal use," he said. "That's the reality of it. It will be proven in court when it gets to court."

Allamong said he smokes marijuana to alleviate the pain of injuries he sustained in Vietnam.

"That's the only reason I had the stuff," he said. "Obviously, I wish I had an opportunity to go another way, where you can get medicinal marijuana in Virginia, but that's not an option.

"I was wounded in Vietnam from a severe concussion blast and had severe joint and hip problems that just are debilitating."

The fire, which was in a shed owned by Erbach Enterprises LLC and used by Allamong, remains under investigation, according to a news release from the Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue Department. The release makes no mention of drugs.

Proctor said Allamong consented to a search of his property by a Sheriff's Office investigator who is on the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force.

"A large number of plants and a small amount of processed what's believed to be marijuana was recovered," he said.

Allamong, who is charged with possession with the intent to distribute marijuana and manufacturing marijuana, turned himself in Wednesday afternoon, Proctor said. He said Allamong was released on his own recognizance and is scheduled to be in Shenandoah County General District Court on Oct. 21.




32 Comments



Charge him and let the last 1000 have the record erased. If your a substitute Judge, your not above the law and any ruling he gave on pot possession should be overturned. What a freaking joke. But then again Shenandoah County is a joke when it comes to being straight.

Another casualty in "The War on Drugs". Had he ate highly addictive man-made narcotics like candy, all would have been well. Instead, he chose to smoke an indigenous plant that was made illegal for racial reasons in the early 1900's. Sick, sad world.

$150,000 worth of pot growing on your property for personal use? If this guy is smoking this much pot then he must be stoned all hours of the day. How can he function as an attorney, much more as a substitute judge? This will be interesting to see how it plays out in court.

How many other people would have been GIVEN the chance to turn themselves in after YOU GAVE the sheriffs office permission to search YOUR property, especially who is charged with possession with the intent to distribute marijuana and manufacturing marijuana?
If that would have been ANY other AVERAGE citizen, they would have been arrested ON THE SPOT!!! And then be released on YOUR OWN RECOGNIZANCE for over $150K street value sales?
Privileges of being a JUDGE, I guess, NO????

What a shame that a man who has fought for our country and was seriously injured while doing so, has to face charges that could ruin his career. That you can go to D.C. and get a prescription for it, while in Virginia you can go to jail for it, shows just how hypocritical the situation is in this country.

Marijuana is a passive drug, that does not kill from overuse, that has been tried by over 100,000,000 Americans, and is far less addictive than alcohol and cigarettes, and is far less destructive to our nations health and well being than either of them.

The sentences for alcohol related offenses are often less than those for pot charges while alcohol ruins far more lives, kills many thousands, if not millions, but is sold to us by the state. Millions sicken and kill theirselves with cigarettes, while we subsidize the tobacco industry.

The pursuit and incarceration of pot users is a waste of our nation's and state's treasure. The overcrowding of jails from the drug war has created a giant industry in private jails, costing us billions, while those companies get rich, all caused by the enforcement of a victimless crime.

Along with cocaine, the U.S.'s demand for those drugs are the cause of the destruction of Mexico's way of life, yet we want to blame them for supplying it.

When are the nation's policy makers going to come to their senses. Make it just like alcohol; legalize it, regulate it, tax it to death. This hypocrisy has got to come to an end!

"How many other people would have been GIVEN the chance to turn themselves in after YOU GAVE the sheriffs office permission to search YOUR property"

Take it easy there John, perhaps the Judge was not at home at the time of the incident. Otherwise the fire would have been handled with a garden hose and the evidence disposed of.

I was thinking the same thing. $150,000 for personal use??? Wow, even at $500 an ounce, that boils down to over 10 pounds. Now I've heard that police often weigh the entire plant instead of just the "buds" of the plants, which could be the reason it's valued so high.

This man has always been there for myself, family, and friends. I am not going to read bad comments about him without responding. I personally do not like drugs because they seem to always get people into trouble as does drinking. Although everyone knows I like my beer. This news makes me sick because I love Jim as a good friend who has helped many people in this county. Also the charges are rediculous because he doesn't need the money. Possesion, yes. Intent to distribute? Bull poopie.

In the story, if you had read it, it states that: "Allamong consented to a search of his property by a Sheriff's Office investigator . . "
I don't think he consented over the phone. Maybe his garden hose didn't reach all the way back there??

And this incident happened on Monday BUT yet he DIDN'T turn himself in until Wednesday afternoon, at that!!!

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We know Jim he is a good man an has always been willing to help & he is a fair man. He's one of the good guys.I would like to know how they figured 150k? By what messure? He's not the kind to sell.I don't think pot should be the goverments busness. Like smoking or drinking. They are Drugs also? This seems to be war on americans. Because it's only hurting us. Spending more & more! To put pot smokers in jail. While Gangs get bigger.

For tojo45 and Rusty.....After they "legalize it", I'll smoke it all day, then you can bring your children or grandchildren to me and I'll babysit. How about that. What about the teacher who teaches our children who will smoke it or your doctor who'll smoke it right before your surgery, or the bus drivers, or rescue squad drivers, or the firefighters? This can go on forever.....................but why bother.

If you don't like the laws in the Commonwealth, then move to another state where you can fry your brain legally.

Man...what the he%%, I have no problem with him smoking his weed...if that is the case, more power to a person that wants to sit at his/her home and hit some weed...But if he prosecuted people for the same thing...I do have a problem with that! But if he throws do the money...he'll walk, just as Mr Kurt Angle, will walk, I bet it sucks to be sittin' in jail somewhere and reading this type of stuff, while serving time, for the same thing and not having the finances to get out of it!

We know Jim. He is a good man and fair. He is not the kind to sell grass. (I wonder how they figured the pot @ $150K.) He is one of the good guys. So he used "DRUGS" like smoking & drinking? Why is smoking pot a crime but not cigs or drinking alcohol. Does anyone have the right to decide what you can drink or smoke? I don't drink, used to smoke cigaretts....am I bad, if your politically correct, yes! When they say you guys can't drink beer or coffee you'll understand. He's not a criminal. He is still a good man. Our war on DRUGS is a war on Americans. Why not spend that money on real crimes and gang crime. If DRUGS were legal we could tax them, make them safer & ((just like alcohol) have money for real crime.

My heart bleeds! This man has never done anything to me or for me. I don't know him. His plight is not unlike those of other 'clean' veterans I know.
Having been wounded in the right knee and both feet by shrapnel I too, know about living with debilitating pain.
I'm fortunate to be here and there isn't a day that I don't thank God for his mercy. I've never used illegal drugs in any form.
Lawyers and substitute judges know the rules. The argument that it's legal for medicinal use in D.C. but not in Virginia is simply no excuse.
The difference between possession with intent to distribute and simple possession is based on the amount found in his possession which includes being on his property even he was unaware of it's presence.
Don't worry, he'll get off lightly because of who he is and the sympathy of the court.
Not that an ordinary vet would get the same consideration.

Agreed. Somebody is aiming a little high with that charge. He never will get convicted of that. Not because of his ties, but simply because its not true. Years after pot is legalized(dont have clue when it will happen but confident that it will), this and many other pot crimes will seem absurd. Best of luck to you Jim.

There are people that function better "stoned" as you called it, then they would function if they weren't. And if someone is in severe pain, the effects of being stoned would be better than the pain. As for the weight and street value, we all know that they did not process it first, so the numbers are way off.
As for how he functioned as a lawyer -- we couldn't ask for a better lawyer. He is a SUPER lawyer!!!! How can we bash this man for relieving the pain that he substained from injuries he recieved in Vietnam? If he has to smoke pot to cope with the pain- oh well--so be it......he's not hurting anyone!
Remember all is innocent until proven guilty---just because they charged him doesn't mean anything yet.

I have worked with Jim, and known him for awhile, I feel I need to speak up. It is so easy for everyone to sit here and judge what you read in the paper, but don't know the person, or all the facts. If someone were to write an article on you could you honestly say that you have done everything in your life perfectly? If you don't work in the court system, then you don't understand all of the procedures and steps it takes to obtain warrants, arrest, etc. At least he stepped up and isn't running or not speaking with the media, clients, etc. He has and will always be someone I have respect for, your opinions are your opinions and your free to feel the way that you feel, but at the end of the day, how would you feel if people were judging you or someone you loved just off of one newspaper article? There are ALWAYS more sides to every story.

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It"s all good......wonder where the rest of his crop is? lol

Maybe he sells to the other judges, or friends, we have no way to know. Maybe they all sit around getting stoned and decide who is going to jail and who is not. Most jobs reqiure drug testing,Judges and law enforcement should be tested often since they are sworn to uphold the law. I wonder how many would pass a random drug test? Anyway I think he should be treated as a criminal like the rest of us would be. If he truly needs medical marijuana then why not move to where you can get it? He knowingly broke the law because he probably thought he was above the law.

I am shocked that Mr. Allamong now wants everyone to excuse his behavior because he was wounded serving our country.There are a lot of men and women who suffer from serving in wars and they do not break the law. How disrespectful to our soldiers past and present. I am truly shocked!

The only reason that it has not been legalized is because of two reasons 1) the pharmaceutical companies cannot make any money off of it and 2) the government (police) do not have any way to perform a road-side test, as they do for alcohol. Has anyone died from marijuana use? Alcohol causes sclerosis of the liver and tobacco causes cancer.

Cancer patients could benefit highly from the oils of this plant, as proven in other countries, but the FDA (jokes themselves) will not approve its use. The drug also has benefits for depression, pain, nausea, etc. but again the FDA will not approve it because AGAIN the pharmaceutical companies would lose a lot of money (and we all know that they control the various governments' decisions by pouring their money into the legislators).

Our founding fathers (Thomas Jefferson and George Washington to name a couple) grew it on their land for both its medicinal and practical purposes (for fabric and ropes). God put that plant on this earth for a reason. Man exploited it as a "bad" drug.

He is an attorney, and I am sure he considered the consequences of his actions. He pushed the envelope and got caught. Making excuses at this point is futile, since he of all people should have been obeying the law.

Tink, how can you say he didn't run to the media? The first thing he did was give a phone interview attempting to win the battle of public opinion. I would be interested in hearing from someone that he has put in jail for the same thing to see if they feel sorry for him. My guess is he would not accept their excuse when they were before his bench. If they are the worst plants ever, they would harvest about 1/2 lb. each, that is over 20 pounds of pot. It is not possible to smoke that much pot for personal use. Hey your honor; puff, puff, give.

People make mistakes all the time. Sometimes laws get broken by both good and bad people. When an attorney helps put people away for doing the very same thing, it is called hypocrisy. Would you want a policeman arresting you for DUI if in fact they were drunk as well?

I agree it will be interesting watching this play out. My guess is that he will not be wearing an orange suit.

Marijuana is not a harmless drug. While it may possess medicinal value it also affects the brain.
The term 'stoned' would not apply to something that didn't change the mental state of the user.
'Stoned' is not a term created by the government. I've seen people so wasted on grass they couldn't find their rear-end with both hands. Why is it called a 'high' if it has no affect on motor skills and behavior.
Take the argument that marijuana is unfairly regulated and that it is harmless to families and friends who have lost loved ones because of an encounter with someone high on it.
Be sure to put on your happy face.

Christina those must be some heavy duty plants you're grownin' - most plants yield only 3 to 4 ounces.

For all of you that think this is just a black and white issue and feel that until a law is change, it should be followed without fail, must not have cared for history in school. No major advancement in changing unfair laws in this country has ever occurred without civil disobedience.

My question is, How many young people did this 'Judge' sentence to jail time for the same crime?
Also, I see alot of people now defending Allamong, I wonder if the accused wasn't a white middle aged professional but instead a young poor afro-american or latino, would you still be defending him or calling for his head on a stick? I've lived in this area for 40+ yrs. I know the answer to question already. You would be screaming but illegels and gangbangers. You would be calling for a 20+ yr sentence. I think you folks need to do some soul searching. THIS MAN IS NOW A CRIMINAL.

Where do you cross the line Doodlebug? Would you be singing the same tune had Allamong had a meth lab in his basement because a little bit of "crystal" helped alleviate the pain? I don't begrudge the guy for trying to alleviate his pain, but he did use poor judgement in apparently growing and harvesting $150K worth of weed--measured by the bud or the plant is irrelevant. If he has been conviciting individuals for possession, distritbution, intent, whatever......he has been juding and ruling with a complete double standard. If you don't like the laws of Virginia as it relates to cultivation and consumption of pot, then lobby to get them changed. Until this happens, then it appears, that he has broken some serious laws, and faces an uphill battle both as a judge and as a licensed attorney.

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Some brief observations: 1) The arresting officer has discretion to make arrest or conduct further investigation before bringing charges. Bail is designed to assure defendant’s court appearance and not act as a preadjucation punishment. Va. Code § 19.2-120. Consider the statutory factors in setting bond, i.e.., character, lack of criminal record, ties to the community, and employment, requiring a secured bond would have been prejudicial treatment.
2) Virginia has technically permitted possession of Marijuana from a valid prescription since 1979. Va. Code § 18.2-251.1 (A). However, because the FDA controls license to prescribe and fill prescriptions, this is a right without a remedy compared to the 15 states and D.C. that address. This does not change Virginia law but reveals the real hypocrisy here.
3) Weight is a factor for the court to consider but not controlling in proving defendant “intended to distribute”. The Virginia Supreme Court in Adkins v. Commonwealth (1976) found possessing 6 ounces of Marijuana did not prove intent to distribute. Attributing a make believe dollar amount to the amount a single plant “might” produce does not substitute as evidence of intent nor refute personal use. Otherwise, purchasing a carton of cigarettes would make you a dealer.
4) Is any drug harmless? There is always a cost benefit analysis performed before approving as a scheduled drug before being regulated. The millions of lives lost because of minimally regulated drugs like cigarettes and alcohol pales by comparison to Marijuana related deaths. But wait, perhaps you still believe the propaganda of “Reefer Madness”. If so, we will never have an intelligent debate and you will cling to Marijuana is illegal because it is bad and it is bad because it is illegal.
5) Is there an exception to the presumption of innocence in drug cases?

Obviously you have no concept of Shenandoah Valley communities.

A suggested source of information:
Julie Holland, M.D., The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis: Its Role in Medicine, Politics, Science, and Culture, 2010, Park Street Press, ISBN 978-1-59477-368-6

I just read this article and many of the related comments. And, it’s my birthday. I am over 50 years old today. Aside from starting to feel like an “old fart”, I think it means I’ve seen a lot of stuff in my life so far, joyous and amazing, as well as stupid and painful.

This article and its comments truly seem to encompass both extremes!

Joyous and amazing because maybe, just maybe, this “incident” will help to bring this very real issue into the spotlight, so that people get serious about addressing the dilemma in a fair, reasonable, and rationale way. Stupid and painful because of the circumstances that are required to get our attention.

I was a teenager in the 1960’s and was surrounded by all the moral issues associated with the Vietnam War. I was very disturbed and conflicted, since I believed that the war was bad, and I wanted to rebel with my peers; while at the same time, my father was a career Army officer and a good man and a good father and a good role model.

This article reminds me of so, so many disturbing, conflicting, and inter-related issues as well. Issues that, if addressed and resolved, at least for a little while, might improve our lives and the lives of our children.

Some of these issues are:
· Drug use (including alcohol) and abuse and legality
· Power and privilege
· Taxation and government spending
· Healthcare and pharmaceutical companies
· Democracy and capitalism

And, it seems to me that it can be so very easy to get caught up in the emotional aspects of any one of these issues, without ever clearly thinking about any one issue, so that we can truly address it.

These issues disturb us. We are conflicted and emotional about these things. It can just be so difficult to be thoughtful and helpful.

As I write this, I really don’t feel comfortable “over sharing” here; but, think about it!

I completely agree that alcohol is one of our deadliest and most harmful drugs. It’s harmful to our bodies, it’s harmful to society, and, personally, I believe it’s harmful to our souls, since I’ve known and lived with “alcoholics”.

But, I like it! I drink it! It’s legal!

And, I’m willing to pay the price; to pay the cost to my body, to suffer the consequences to me and the people around me, and to pay our governments in the form of taxes).

Why isn’t the same true for marijuana?

Why are we “okay” with these seemingly obvious contradictions in attitudes?
Is it because we simply feel that “sometimes” we can control and moderate ourselves better than the government can?
Should our government even have the right to “govern” what we do in our personal and private lives?

To help find answers, as well as to justify our attitudes and “positions”, we can cite science and studies and history and culture and moral attitudes time and time again, so that we can make our own, personal points of view known. But, to what end?

So…on my birthday…as an “almost” old fart, I’m going to offer three ideas:

First, pick your issue and don’t confuse the issue.

What do you want to fix? Is it fairness and consistency regarding the legality of drugs, does it concern power and privilege, is it our healthcare system, or is it something else? I don’t know. Just pick one “thing”.

Do you want to help? I mean, really want to help? Then, pick an issue and stick to it. Maybe, and then maybe, we can come up with a reasonable and rationale solution for that one issue; that one issue among the many issues that just make us “mad as heck” and that are touched upon in this article and it’s comments.

I know it’s not that simple. But, we can try, can’t we?

Next, learn about the issue.

Learn everything that you can, providing your means, your motivation, and your opportunity. Sounds like were going to commit a crime here, doesn’t it?

Do you think that the comments about this article reflect good thinking or maybe bad thinking? Do you believe the information to be true? Do you know it to be true? Or, is it a hunch? Are you “trusting” the information to be true? For the love of all things holy, please learn the best facts available to us. And, learn it for yourself; or at least, verify it.

And, finally, let’s not whine; do something constructive.

Of course, if you only have time to whine, and it makes you feel better, then by all means, whine.

So, personally, the issue I pick is “Should Marijuana be Legalized”?

And, if you’re interested, here it is again - the best, single, current source of information that I’ve been able to find so far:

Julie Holland, M.D., The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis: Its Role in Medicine, Politics, Science, and Culture, 2010, Park Street Press, ISBN 978-1-59477-368-6

I'll say this in as few words as I can:
Reading a book someone else, even a doctor, informs me of their opinion and may shape mine but it doesn't make me an expert.
If someone admits to some wrongdoing they have judged and sentenced others for, doesn't that make them a hypocrite?
End of story...



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