Illinois Police Mistake Pistachio Shells For Marijuana

SPRING GROVE. Illinois – A pile of crushed pistachio shells mistaken for marijuana led to felony drug charges for a 59-year-old Round Lake Beach woman, who also happened to have a bottle of prescription pills in her pocket, her attorney said.

Nancy Pahlman, of the 1400 block of Lotus Drive, was released from the McHenry County Jail on Wednesday. Judge Jeffrey Hirsch said Pahlman could leave the jail without posting a cash bond on the conditions that she would show up to court dates and not abuse drugs.

She is charged with possession of a controlled substance, which typically is punishable by one to three years in prison.

Spring Grove police stopped Pahlman for speeding on Jan. 5, according to a criminal complaint filed in McHenry County court. When an officer mistook the pile of de-shelled pistachios in her passenger seat for marijuana, the officer asked her to step out of the car, said her attorney, Philip Prossnitz.

A search of Pahlman’s car yielded no marijuana, but police found a bottle of the narcotic pain medication tramodol in her coat pocket, according to a motion her attorney filed.

Prossnitz said he now is trying to prove that police did not have a strong enough reason to search Pahlman’s vehicle.

The prescription for the pills was in a family member’s name, although Pahlman does have her own prescription for the medication to help treat chronic pain from fibromyalgia, Prossnitz said.

A year earlier, when Pahlman said she was driving a family member to cancer treatment, the pills fell out of the relative’s bag, and Pahlman put them in her coat pocket for safe keeping, Prossnitz said.

The family member died shortly after, and the pills were forgotten until she brought out her winter coat again, Prossnitz said.

Representatives from the Spring Grove Police Department and McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office were not available Friday to comment on the charges or details surrounding Pahlman’s arrest.

Her next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 1.

At a future court date, Prossnitz plans to enter a bag of pistachios into evidence, he said.

“I think we are a motion to suppress and a bag of pistachio nuts away from resolving this matter,” he said.