Jim Shea

Montana Supreme Court Justice Mike McGrath, left, swears in Supreme Court Justice Jim Shea.

ELIZA WILEY, Helena Independent Record

In a Montana Supreme Court opinion issued Tuesday, Justice James Shea took up the concept of whether it is a good idea for a drug dealer to “get high on your own supply.”

Shea affirmed the “long-established rule of the drug trade,” backing it up with citations referencing an episode of the HBO television show “The Wire” as well as the 1983 movie “Scarface” and albums from The Notorious B.I.G. and N.W.A.

In the case at hand, the state Supreme Court denied a request by a Ravalli County man to have one of his drug charges dismissed, deciding that his possession of methamphetamine for personal use was separate from his possession for the purposes of selling drugs.

“To that rule, we now add the legal caveat: ‘Don’t get high on your own supply 'cause double jeopardy don’t apply,'" Shea wrote.

In a footnote, the justice admits “grammar intentionally sacrificed at the altar of poetic license.”

Bruce Anthony Glass had appealed an order by District Court Judge Jeffrey Langton to the high court, saying he should not have been prosecuted on a state drug felony because he had already been sentenced in federal court for drug distribution.

In June 2014, Glass was charged in Ravalli County with both felony drug distribution for methamphetamine and felony possession of methamphetamine, as well as other misdemeanor drug charges.

An investigation found that in February 2014 he received a package in the mail from California containing more than 8 pounds of meth, most of which Glass sold. However he kept roughly half a pound for himself.

Later that year, federal prosecutors indicted him on a charge of conspiracy to distribute meth, for which Glass eventually went to federal prison after pleading guilty.

Following his federal sentencing, Glass petitioned Judge Langton to dismiss his state charges, arguing they constituted double jeopardy and would mean he was being tried twice for the same offense.

Ravalli prosecutors agreed to dismiss his drug distribution charge, but opposed dropping the felony meth possession count, arguing the drugs Glass kept for his personal use — including meth residue found in a pipe — were a different offense than his federal sentence for selling.

Langton sided with the prosecution and declined to dismiss the possession charge, and Glass eventually pleaded guilty and was given a fully-suspended sentence concurrent to his federal sentence.

In the Montana Supreme Court opinion, Shea affirmed Langton’s decision, finding that although Glass claims to only have imported drugs to sell, he “obviously could not distribute the methamphetamine he retained for his own personal use.”

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Law and Justice Reporter

Crime reporter for the Missoulian.