Clovis News

Armstrong's grandson ordered to drug rehab

The grandson of Clovis Mayor Harry Armstrong will be allowed to enroll in a drug treatment program as part of a plea deal for marijuana cultivation, a judge ruled Monday.

David Armstrong, 25, has a valid medical marijuana card that allows him to grow marijuana for personal use and smoke it to alleviate chronic pain, defense attorney Douglas Foster said.

But Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jonathan Conklin said Armstrong would have to prove at another hearing that he truly needs the drug for medicinal purposes before he can smoke it while in the drug rehab program.

After the ruling, Armstrong said another hearing won't be necessary because he plans to neither grow medical marijuana nor smoke it anymore. "I'm done with it," he said.

Armstrong was given a drug-treatment program under terms of a plea deal hashed out with prosecutors on Jan. 13. He pleaded guilty to a felony charge of cultivating marijuana. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a felony charge of possession of marijuana for sale. If he had been convicted of the two charges, he faced as much as three years and eight months in prison.

A citizen's tip in March 2009 led to the arrest of Armstrong, who told police he lived with his grandfather, Harry Armstrong -- a Clovis City Council member since 1970.

Police have said Harry Armstrong, 80, had no knowledge of his grandson's activities and cooperated with investigators.

Outside court Monday, Foster said David Armstrong could have fought the charges because he has a valid medical marijuana card. But police contend he was growing more than he was allowed in order to sell it, Foster said.

Armstrong decided to plead guilty, Foster said, because he was tired of the news media bringing up his grandfather in connection with his criminal case.

Since his arrest, Armstrong has been undergoing drug counseling and has attended Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings three times a week, Foster said. The drug-treatment program is a minimum of 18 months. If Armstrong completes the drug program and stays out of trouble, the felony charge will be dismissed, Foster said.