The Mayor of Jamaica, Iowa Sentenced to Probation After Cannabis Arrest
LaDonna Kennedy and her husband Randy escaped their home grow pot bust without extended jail time, but they did have to give up the title of Jamaica’s first couple.
Published on October 23, 2019

If you missed the story about the Mayor of Jamaica getting arrested for housing a cannabis grow operation in her basement, it’s probably because the Jamaica we’re talking about has 220 residents, no sandy beaches, and is in the middle of Iowa.

According to the Des Moines Register,  51-year-old LaDonna Kennedy was the elected leader of the rural Hawkeye State town when local sheriffs discovered 18 cannabis plants in various stages of growth in the basement of her home this past January. After 10 months of deliberation and delay, Kennedy and her husband Randy pled guilty to charges of manufacturing and distributing a controlled substance, and each accepted a sentence of two years of probation.


The incident started after sheriffs thought they had tracked a shooting suspect to the Mayor’s house shortly after the new year. But while officers did not track down their intended suspect, they did notice an overwhelming smell of weed coming from the home. After securing a search warrant, sheriffs say they uncovered a “marijuana grow operation” made up of 18 potted plants spread across three basement rooms. In addition to the grow, cops also confiscated nine bags containing an estimated total of 4-5 ounces of cannabis.

Prosecutors then charged Mayor Kennedy and her husband with counts of manufacturing with intent to deliver no more than 50 kilograms of marijuana, suggesting that the couple was running a seed to sale drug ring from their doorstep. Sean Spellman, a lawyer for Randy Kennedy, refuted those claims, and said that the Mayor and her husband were “in no way, shape or form a distributor of drugs," and that the weed was all grown for personal consumption.

Gallery — Photos of Cops Smoking Weed:

The Kennedy’s escaped any further jail time with the plea deal, and LaDonna has since stepped down as the Mayor of Jamaica. But as the case continues to gain publicity, Kennedy’s lawyer is hopeful that the case can draw attention to the need for cannabis law reform in Iowa. 

"At some point there might be a need to consider decriminalization so people aren't faced with the stigma of drug crimes," Spellman said

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Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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