Vermont Skateboard Shop “Ridin’ High” Owners Escape Jailtime On Cannabis Distribution Charges
VT Digger (Vermont) reports..
“Big John” Van Hazinga was sentenced to five years probation Friday in Burlington federal court for illegally selling marijuana out of the Ridin’ High skateboard shop, which he co-owns with his significant other, Samantha Steady.
Steady was sentenced to two years probation.
Van Hazinga and Steady agreed to plea deals in March for the charges. Under the agreements, Van Hazinga pleaded guilty to a felony count of distributing marijuana, for which he faced up to five years in prison, and Steady pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of marijuana possession, for which she faced up to a year in prison.
The pair appeared in court in consecutive sentencing hearings Friday. At both hearings, the defendants received a harsher sentence than what the government was requesting, though neither party received jail time.
At Van Hazinga’s hearing, Judge Christina Reiss highlighted a number of factors she was taking into consideration in her sentencing decision. She noted that Van Hazinga’s extensive record put him in the highest criminal history category under federal sentencing guidelines.
She also noted that despite the fact that Van Hazinga committed the offense partly because of his philosophical beliefs in favor of marijuana legalization, his actions would be illegal under both federal and state laws. She said both the volume and method of Van Hazinga’s distribution puts his crime far outside the bounds of what is allowed under Vermont’s 2018 law legalizing the use of marijuana.
Reiss also acknowledged that despite the drug’s illegality, it is not an incredibly harmful or dangerous substance, and no one was seriously injured as a result of Van Hazinga’s crimes.