Whitney Houston can now feel free to travel to Hawaii for vacation, not court hearings.
The pop diva has met all of her court-ordered requirements after pleading no contest last November to marijuana possession charges, and prosecutors said Wednesday her much-publicized case is dismissed.
Houston, 37, copped a plea in Kona District Court following her run-in last January with Hawaiian airport security, who allegedly found half an ounce of pot in her carry-on bag. To remove the petty misdemeanor from her record, Houston was ordered to pay several fines, donate money to an antidrug group and submit to a substance-abuse assessment.
The deal hit a snag last month, when the court's deadline passed and Houston failed to submit proof of her substance-abuse evaluation. But Deputy Prosecutor Mel Fujino says Houston received the assessment last month, and prosecutors decided to clear her record.
'The probation office received the assessment and recommended the case be dismissed,' Fujino says. 'We are satisfied Ms. Houston is in compliance. She did everything the court asked her to do.'
Houston's lawyer, Bryan Blaney, says he takes the blame for the early mix-up. He said Houston initially took a drug test, thinking that was all the court asked for. But the court actually required a 'substance-abuse assessment,' which involves sitting down for a full evaluation with a substance-abuse counselor.
Blaney says Houston eventually sat down with Michael V. Burke, a substance-abuse counselor from Rutgers University.
'I'm very happy, as is my client,' Blaney says of the dismissal. 'This is something that should have not extended this far. There was a misunderstanding about what was requested... She never failed to do a drug assessment, it's just that because of the time frame, it took us a little longer to get it in place.'
Houston was stopped January 11, 2000, at Keahole-Kona International Airport after security guards searched her bag and allegedly found marijuana in two plastic baggies and three partially smoked joints. But instead of hanging around, Houston and hubby Bobby Brown hopped on their flight to San Francisco before police arrived.
The Hawaii incident sparked what would become a tabloid-fueled frenzy over Houston's state of health last year. The pot bust--followed by a series of strange incidents and a no-show at the Oscars--led some to speculate that Houston was battling a drug problem.
by Mark Armstrong
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