Finally, there is some positive news off the field for the Georgia football program, even as some clarity on one player’s status moving forward is still needed.
According to ESPN.com‘s Mark Schlabach, the Barrow County district attorney’s office has decided to drop a marijuana possession charge against UGA linebacker Natrez Patrick. Earlier this month, Patrick was arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. That was the junior’s third marijuana-related arrest and fourth pot-related incident in a little over two years.
Patrick was arrested in early October of this year on a charge of possessing less than an ounce of marijuana and ultimately served a four-game suspension. In November of 2015, Patrick was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor marijuana possession and suspended for one game per university policy. A year later, Patrick and a teammate, Roquan Smith, were investigated by police for alleged pot use although no charges were ever filed.
In this latest incident, Patrick was a passenger in a vehicle driven by teammate Jayson Stanley that was pulled over for speeding shortly after the Bulldogs won the SEC championship.
“When you get into someone’s car, you’re not going to search it to see if there’s marijuana in the car,” Patrick’s attorney, William Healan III, told Schlabach. “My client didn’t know the marijuana was there. If you’re sitting on a little piece of marijuana that you didn’t know was there, you’re not knowingly in possession of it.”
As for Stanley, he saw a driving under the influence charge dropped. In exchange, the little-used wide receiver pleaded guilty misdemeanor possession of marijuana and speeding.
Despite the fact that the linebacker’s charge was dropped, Schlabach writes that “[i]t wasn’t immediately known whether Patrick would be available when the No. 3 Bulldogs take on No. 2 Oklahoma in a College Football Playoff semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game… on New Year’s Day.” The Macon Telegraph, meanwhile, writes that when “[a]sked if this decision meant Patrick would not be considered a third-time offender under the UGA student-athlete handbook, athletics director Greg McGarity declined to comment.” Three drug-related offenses are grounds for dismissal according to university policy.
Patrick started seven of the nine games in which he played at inside linebacker this season. Even as he missed nearly one-third of the regular season, Patrick is still sixth on the Bulldogs in tackles with 35.