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Man with vape oil that tested positive for THC is facing criminal charges

American Samoa District Court building
He says he needs it for chronic pain

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A Hawaiian Airlines passenger who entered American Samoa on May 22, 2018 in possession of an unlabeled bottle containing an active chemical in marijuana is now officially charged.

Brandon Peterson made his initial appearance before District Court Judge, Fiti Sunia yesterday morning. He’s charged with a single count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, to wit; marijuana, a class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Peterson was served with a copy of the arrest warrant yesterday morning in court. It is not clear why Peterson was in court yesterday morning when he was served.

He is represented by Assistant Public Defender, Anna Wells while prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General, Christy Dunn.

Judge Sunia has established Peterson’s bail at $2,000 cash bond.

If he is able to post bond,  the court has ordered that he remain law abiding, not leave the territory, and he has to surrender his travel documents to the government attorney. He is also ordered not to make any direct or indirect contact with all the government’s witnesses.

Peterson is scheduled to appear in court today for his Status Hearing, and he was remanded to custody after his hearing yesterday, until further order from the court.


The government claims that on May 23, DPS received a call from Customs K-9 supervisor, David McMoore regarding a possible drug case at the airport.

McMoore told DPS detectives that on May 22 around 6:55p.m, he and his canine, Benny, were conducting a routine search at the Pago Pago International Airport.

He said Benny alerted to Peterson, a passenger on the HAL flight that arrived from Honolulu.

An inspection of Peterson's belongings netted items including a liquid bottle used for electronic cigarettes. According to the court affidavit, the unlabeled bottled tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

 The electronic cigarette that was found inside Peterson’s pocket also had a liquid in it. The contraband was confiscated that night but Peterson was released.

On May 29, 2018.  Peterson was contacted by police to meet at the Tafuna SubStation and Peterson complied.

Peterson, after being informed of his rights, agreed to make a verbal and written statement regarding the vapor juice [liquid] that tested positive for THC and found in his possession.

Peterson told investigators that he has been having chronic pain for over 15 years, and the doctors suggested CBD to help him with the pain. Peterson said he had CBD oil in his e-cigarette but did not think it was illegal. He added that he also purchased one bottle of CBD in Hawai’i for pain and inflammation.

Peterson further stated that prior to boarding the airplane, he poured the contents out from his e-cigarette and replaced it with nicotine. When Peterson was leaving Hawai’i, he had a cannabis chocolate that melted in his pocket, and that's what the dog alerted to.

Customs officers searched Peterson’s bag and discovered vapor juice and CBD oil.

Peterson was released — at the time — pending further investigation.

The vapor juice was tested and came back positive for THC, the active chemical in marijuana.