TWIN FALLS • A plea deal has been reached in the marijuana trafficking case of a Twin Falls podiatrist, anti-nuclear activist and one-time gubernatorial candidate.
Peter Rickards had been charged with two counts of trafficking pot after Twin Falls County sheriff’s deputies raided his home May 24, 2013.
Monday, Rickards agreed to plead guilty to one charge of manufacturing marijuana.
According to the plea deal, prosecutors and Rickards’ attorney will recommend five years of supervised probation and 30 days in jail with credit for time served. If Rickards does not successfully complete probation, he could face two to five years in prison.
They also recommend he be fined $2,000 and complete 200 hours of community service.
Sentencing will be July 9 for Rickards, who turned 59 on April 20 — known as 4/20 and celebrated nationwide as a day to smoke cannabis.
“I am grateful that after talking to the prosecutors directly for an hour, they agreed I was not trafficking but simply growing cannabis for myself,” Rickards said in an email to the Times-News. “I would have preferred the prosecutors and courts agreed I have the constitutional right to follow the MD prescription I had to grow my own medicine, of course, but it will probably be a legal medicine nationwide before I could get my case to the Supreme Court. While the Supreme Court has supported the right for Native Americans to use hallucinogenic peyote, and for the New Mexico UDV Church to use hallucinogenic Ayahuasca tea, so far they have ruled against medicinal or sacramental cannabis use.”
Rickards wrote that he used marijuana as a preventive medicine.
“I have hurt no one by using one of God’s greatest plants, and in fact was inspired to help protect our water supply from nuclear waste,” he said.
Rickards was arrested after detectives served a warrant at his Twin Falls County home last May and reported finding more than 4 pounds of dried marijuana and 32 live plants. They characterized it as a “manufacturing operation.”
In Idaho, a person can be charged with trafficking based on the number of plants or pounds of marijuana they possess, even if they don’t transport or sell it.
Rickards said he had a “religious right” and “a spiritual and constitutional right to have my plants,” deputies reported.
He told deputies to ask a judge about keeping his plants alive while he was in jail because they are part of his religion, the report said. Deputies said they didn’t have the resources to care for his crops.
Police said they found several books on growing marijuana, and Rickards told them he smokes about three joints a day and stays high on marijuana every day.
During a preliminary hearing in June, Detective Guy Joslin testified that he also found a map showing where different types of marijuana were planted, and he reported smelling fresh and burnt marijuana in Rickards’ home.