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Teacher faces misdemeanor drug charges

Posted: 6:26 PM, Sep 30, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-30 18:26:41-04
A 39-year-old Hillsborough County elementary school was arrested Tuesday after deputies say the caught him with marijuana during a traffic stop.
 
Michael Couch of Odessa, who teaches third grade at Hamilton Elementary School, is charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
 
According to deputies, Couch was speeding Tuesday afternoon through a school zone near Hammond Elementary School off Mobley Road.
 
Deputies said when they pulled Couch over, there was a strong odor of marijuana coming from the car. They confronted Couch over the smell.
 
An arrest affidavit states that once confronted, Couch reached back into his backseat and showed the deputy a blue tin cookie container and said, "It is right here."
 
Deputies said inside the container they found leafy buds of marijuana in clear plastic bags and a glass pipe with marijuana residue inside.
 
A field test of the buds showed it was marijuana, deputies said. They said Couch admitted to deputies the marijuana was his and he used to ease pain from a broken back.
 
Couch posted a cash bond and is now at home.
 
ABC Action News knocked on Couch's door for comment, but he declined.
 
School district leaders said Couch has been employed by them since 2006. He is not allowed to return to school until he meets with representatives from the Office of Professional Standards and it concludes its investigation.
 
FBI STATS SHOW MARIJUANA ARRESTS SPIKED IN 2014
 
Data released by the FBI on Monday showed a marijuana arrest occurred every 51 seconds in 2014, resulting in roughly 620,000 arrests.
 
It’s the highest number of marijuana related arrests since 2009.
 
ABC Action News examined marijuana related arrests over the past 24 hours in the Tampa Bay area. There were a total of 38.
 
Here is a breakdown by county:
 
CITRUS COUNTY- 1
 
HERNANDO COUNTY- 1
 
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY- 15
 
MANATEE COUNTY- 1
 
PASCO COUNTY- 1
 
POLK COUNTY- 5
 
SARASOTA COUNTY- 5