Jessica Durham, 25, of Elma, Wash, was recently convicted and sentenced for giving her 18 month old toddler marijuana from a bong. Durham was originally sentenced to five years in prison by U.S. District Judge Jack Shanstrom.
The sentence was appealed and in September, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered resentencing. The appeals court agreed with Durham that the maximum sentence should be two years.
Durham also appealed her conviction of distributing marijuana to a person under 18 saying the evidence submitted by the prosecution was not properly admitted. The appeal was upheld.
The incident occurred in 2016. Brandi Nichols testified that she arrived at Durham’s home to help her move. When Nichols walked in the home, she hugged the toddler and then sat on the couch where there was a 2 foot bong. Nichols said the toddler ran towards the bong. She tried to waive the bong away from the toddler and the toddler threw a fit.
Nichols went on to testify that Durham lit the bong, took at hit and then passed it to her toddler. Nichols testified that she also took a hit from the bong, got sick, went outside and started freaking out.
In a one day trial in 2016, Durham was found guilty after Nichols’ testimony. Nichols also said that Durham encouraged photographing of the toddler with the bong because she wanted to send the pictures to a marijuana magazine.
No one is sure how much marijuana was given to the child and tests for marijuana on the child made within days of the report returned negative.
Durham admitted the offense to law enforcement officers and told them that smoking pot helped her daughter’s appetite, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcia Hurd said. Durham called her daughter ”a little stoner,” she said.
Federal Defender Steve Babcock suggested probation for Durham citing she has “matured in all ways in life,” has been participating in drug treatment and had no criminal history. “She will not be back.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Fehr suggested Durham be sentenced to the maximum of two years due to the seriousness of the offense.
“It’s a very, very gross offense,” Shanstrom said Wednesday. “My feelings are very strong on this.”
Durham was allowed to surrender when she has been assigned to a federal prison if the designation occurs within two months and if Durham does not appeal the sentence.
Durham’s parental rights have been terminated and she is currently appealing her conviction.