By JD LONG
CADIZ – An event that occurred Aug. 30 has resurfaced involving Pittsburgh Steeler running back Benjamin Snell Jr., 21, of Westerville, Ohio. On Tuesday, Snell’s Ohio attorney, Joseph Kunkel of Luftman, Heck & Associates, failed to appear before Judge Mark Beetham at a Harrison County Court hearing to seal the records of the August traffic stop along U.S. 250. The hearing has been rescheduled for Dec. 10.
While Snell received citations for speed and possession of marijuana, on Sept. 11 he pleaded guilty to speed but the possession of marijuana charge was dismissed. He paid a $150 fine. Snell never appeared in court.
Snell, driving a 2019 black Mercedes Benz, was stopped by Harrison County Sheriff’s Deputy Nathan Stuckey for speeding at 68 mph in a 55-mph zone. According to the sheriff’s report, while asking for Snell’s credentials, Stuckey smelled marijuana and Snell admitted smoking “marijuana approximately 20 minutes prior” to being pulled over. After being asked if he had any additional marijuana in the vehicle, Snell told Stuckey he did not, but later admitted that he did.
Stuckey then performed a Standardized Field Sobriety Test, determining “there was not enough clues for an OVI arrest.” During this procedure is when Snell not only admitted having the baggie of marijuana but a 9mm Glock handgun. The gun was unloaded with no magazine in the gun. A check of the serial number came back negative for any problems.
A small amount of 2.76 grams was taken into evidence and Snell was cited for the marijuana possession as well as speeding. The case moved forward quickly as Snell was scheduled for a Sept. 3 arraignment, but his attorney filed an appearance of a not guilty plea. Snell then made the final plea on Sept. 11.
Harrison County Prosecutor Owen Beetham and Assistant Prosecutor Jack Felgenhauer both stated that many, approximately “ninety nine percent” of marijuana cases are dismissed, especially when defendants are caught with small amounts, as was Snell.
When the Ohio legislature decriminalized hemp, it has made it more difficult to prosecute marijuana abusers, they explained. It must be determined the level of THC-the active ingredient in the plant (.3 percent or less of THC), and marijuana (more than .3 percent of THC). But the catch, according to Felgenhauer, is that the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) will not even test misdemeanor amounts marijuana.
Steve Irwin of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office told the Harrison News-Herald that prosecutors have the option on whether to prosecute small amounts of marijuana.
He explained that the law has in fact changed and it is no longer a question of whether it is marijuana or not, but it has come down to THC levels.
The evidence in Snell’s case was not sent to Ohio BCI for testing.
Further, Snell may have broken NFL policy rules. The NFL has strict guidelines for criminal behavior and/or mischief and under Expectations and Standards of Conduct for League Policies for Players (2016) reads in part: “It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime. We are all held to a higher standard and must conduct ourselves in a way that is responsible, promotes the values of the NFL, and is lawful.”
The policy goes on to state, “even if the conduct does not result in a criminal conviction, players found to have engaged in any of the following conduct will be subject to discipline.” And one of those items listed is “illegal possession, use or distribution of alcohol or drugs.”
Pittsburgh Steelers media division had no comment at this time. Attempts for comment from Kunkel were not returned at the time of publication.