WATFORD CITY — A vape shop owner accused of selling products containing cannabidiol or marijuana and hemp plant extracts agreed to a plea deal Friday and will spend no time in jail.
Falestani Abuhamda was charged in May with seven counts related to possession or distribution of a controlled substance or of drug paraphernalia. Police raided Abuhamda’s two Tobacco Depot stores in Alexander and Watford City in western North Dakota and seized items containing the cannabis oil or cannabidiol, as well as vape pens.
Abuhamda’s lawyer, Deanna Longtin, said an appeal is possible as they claim the products were from industrial hemp plants that are legal in North Dakota.
In court Friday, Abuhamda entered an Alford plea to possession of hashish, manufacturing drug paraphernalia, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance.
In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but does admit the prosecution has enough evidence that they would be likely to prevail at trial.
One part of the agreement was that the possession of hashish charge was lowered from a class C felony to a class A misdemeanor. Todd Schwarz, assistant state’s attorney for McKenzie County, said a law that went into effect in July changed the level of that charge for a first offense.
“The state is not required to do so, but in the interest of justice and resolving this matter, I think it’s appropriate,” Schwarz told Northwest District Judge Robin Schmidt.
Schmidt asked Abuhamda his plea to the four counts, and after each one he said he was entering an Alford plea.
“So you’re admitting, sir, that the state has enough evidence that a jury could find you guilty?” Schmidt asked.