Marijuana found in his backpack
By Marc J. Spears

Los Angeles - Nuggets star forward Carmelo Anthony faces a petty-offense charge after marijuana was found in his backpack during a search at Denver International Airport last week.

"He is innocent of these charges," his attorney, Dan Recht, said Wednesday night. "He's devastated by these charges. He feels an obligation to his fans. He has been an upstanding member of the Nuggets and will continue to be."

Anthony faces a charge of possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana. The marijuana allegedly was found in a side pocket when the backpack was hand- searched before the Nuggets boarded a team flight Friday to Milwaukee for a preseason game.

The flight left from Signature Flight Support at DIA. Recht said a male friend of Anthony's is expected to make a statement today taking claim for the marijuana. Recht declined to reveal Anthony's friend's name.

Anthony declined to comment through team spokesperson Teri Washington.

According to Colorado state law, possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana is a Class 2 petty offense. Anthony has received a summons to appear in court on or before Oct. 29, Recht said. Recht is expected to go to court for Anthony. There is no possibility of jail time. The maximum penalty for the violation is $100.

According to the National Basketball Association's Collective Bargaining Agreement, any player who tests positive or is found by an arbitrator to have possessed marijuana will have to enter the league's marijuana program on the first offense. A second offense includes a $15,000 fine and the third offense or more includes a five-game suspension.

An NBA source said Anthony never failed any of the four drug tests he took as a rookie and passed a recent one as well. Anthony also didn't fail a drug test during the Athens Olympics.

Rookies are tested once during training camp and up to three times during the regular season. Veterans are tested only once, which comes during training camp.

Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said the franchise supports Anthony.

"The attorney's office is always fair and does a great job," Vandeweghe said. "I just want all the facts to come to light. I have a lot of confidence in Carmelo. As I've said, we drug-test guys and we have no reason to believe anything other than the facts that have been represented."

Recht said he has met with an assistant of the Denver city attorney about the situation. Recht has asked that the case be dismissed.

"I expect the city attorney to treat him fairly," Vandeweghe said. "We don't expect any special treatment."

Anthony was on the Nuggets' team flight to Los Angeles on Wednesday for today's game against the Clippers.

"Carmelo is going to fight it because it's not true," Recht said of the allegations.

Anthony's latest incident continues a somewhat rocky offseason.

Anthony ended up signing autographs at the Pepsi Center for fans who didn't receive promised autographs for buying T-shirts during his celebrity charity game at the University of Denver's Magness Arena. He made national headlines after he didn't see eye to eye with coach Larry Brown during the Olympics. And Anthony also reportedly was involved in an altercation on Sept. 13 at a New York nightclub with rapper Sugar Jay after Sugar Jay spat a drink in the face of Anthony's girlfriend, LaLa Vasquez.

"This is the last thing he needed," Recht said.

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NBA POLICY
Here is the NBA's policy on marijuana, according to Article XXXIII of the Collective Bargaining Agreement:

Any player who (i) tests positive for marijuana ..., (ii) is adjudged by the Grievance Arbitrator ... to have used or possessed marijuana or (iii) has been convicted of (including a plea of guilty, no contest or nolo contendere to) the use or possession of marijuana in violation of the law, shall suffer the following penalties:

(a) For the first violation, the player shall be required to enter the marijuana program;

(b) For the second violation, the player shall be fined $15,000 and required to enter the marijuana program;

(c) For the third and any subsequent violation, the player shall be suspended five games and required to enter the marijuana program.