UPDATED: Bobcat Recruit Faces Felony Marijuana Charges

By Beacon Staff

A Montana State football recruit who was suspended for two Flathead High School games for being caught in a car with marijuana and drug paraphernalia faces two felony drug counts after several fellow high school graduates got sick from eating marijuana-laced brownies at an all-night graduation party.

Connor Thomas was taken into custody and released the night of the party. Two counts of felony distribution of drugs were filed Thursday, the Daily Inter Lake reported. Flathead County prosecutors want a hearing to determine if the 17-year-old should be charged as an adult.

Court records say two 17-year-old boys identified Thomas as the person who made and sold the brownies for $15 on June 3. Thomas told police Officer Jason Parse that he made the brownies and that he realized afterward that he put “way too much” marijuana in them, court records said.

It is unclear how the charges will affect Thomas’ football scholarship. Thomas, one of Flathead High’s valedictorians, signed with the Bobcats in February after committing to Oregon State last summer.

Montana State football coach Rob Ash was out of the country on vacation, a Bobcat football spokeswoman said Friday. A message left with the sports information office seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Thomas’ older brother, Tyler, was dismissed from the Oregon State football team last summer after police found him naked and intoxicated in a stranger’s home in Corvallis, Ore., and had to use a stun gun to take him into custody. Tyler Thomas also has joined the Bobcat football team.

Parse said the marijuana brownie issue came to light when a 17-year-old Glacier High graduate approached him on June 4.

He “was in distress and his face was pale,” Parse said. The boy told Parse about another 17-year-old who appeared to be having a medical emergency. Several students told the officer that the youth had consumed marijuana brownies in the parking lot. Parse called paramedics.

Six 17-year-olds, along with Thomas, were sent home from the party with their parents after showing symptoms that included confusion, hallucinations, increased heart rates, perspiration and garbled speech, police said.

During his senior football season, he was removed from the team after allegedly violating the school’s chemical use policy. A Sept. 22 traffic stop in Kalispell led to the discovery of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Thomas was driving. The school policy states students cannot use drugs of any kind “or be present for any length of time at a gathering or location where the use or the possession of drugs is illegally taking place during an activity season.”

His mother, Mary Thomas, sued the Kalispell School District. Attorney Sean Hinchey argued that the district’s policy deprived Thomas of his due process and equal protection rights. Hinchey also wrote that Thomas’ suspension could lead to the loss of his Oregon State scholarship offer, valued at about $200,000.

In an affidavit, Connor Thomas denied any wrongdoing and said, “I believe there is no evidence that I physically possessed or consumed marijuana or paraphernalia.”

District Judge Katherine Curtis ordered Thomas reinstated, saying the potential loss constituted sufficient harm to allow for an injunction and the district provided no evidence that its chemical-use policy was reasonable.

Thomas was reinstated after missing two games. No further hearings have been held in the case.

A spokeswoman at Hinchey’s office said Hinchey has not been retained in the current case. There was no phone listing for Mary Thomas in Kalispell.

When Connor Thomas signed with MSU, Ash told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that they had investigated Connor Thomas and “we know everything that happened, or supposedly happened.”

“We don’t have any concerns about his character or about his ability to be a high-quality, class representative of our program during his college career.”

During his time at Flathead High, Thomas earned first team all-state honors in football as a junior, finished third at state in wrestling and was the 2010 Class AA shot put champion. As a senior, he earned honorable mention all-state honors in football, finished third in wrestling and fourth in shot put. He also maintained a 4.0 grade point average.

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