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Aging rock stars Rundgren, Etheridge face court hearings in ND after marijuana, hash charges at border

Todd Rundgren Photo by Wikimedia Commons Recording artist Melissa Etheridge performs the national anthem before a game between the New York Knicks and the Golden State Warriors at Madison Square Garden. Brad Penner /USA TODAY Sports

PORTAL, N.D.—A pair of of nationally known musicians were arrested on marijuana offenses earlier this year after their tour buses were stopped at the Canadian border crossing in Portal, N.D., and are facing court appearances in coming days.

Grammy Award-winner Melissa Etheridge and rock musician Todd Rundgren were both stopped at the border on separate occasions while returning to the U.S. from engagements in Canada.

Rundgren was headed for his appearance at the Bluestem amphitheater in Moorhead, Minn. Both musicians were accused of possessing hash oil, and Rundgren was also accused of possessing drug paraphernalia. Both offenses are Class B misdemeanors.

The affidavit for Etheridge's arrest states the musician was on her way on Aug. 8 from Alberta to Minneapolis as part of an ongoing tour when a drug-sniffing dog alerted border officers to the possibility of drugs on the bus. A subsequent search allegedly discovered "cigar-type cigarettes, a (vial) containing a liquid, and green plastic containers with a green wax-like substance."

Etheridge stated to officers that the items belonged to her. The cigarettes and vial both contained hash oil and the wax was a "marijuana-infused balm for topical relief."

Etheridge told officers that she uses the items as treatment for cancer. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 and has previously discussed her use of medical marijuana. She has been an advocate of the substance since then and was more recently a partner in a venture to make cannabis-infused wine. After her arrest, Etheridge signed a promise to appear on Oct. 10, though her hearing was ultimately waived. She has a pretrial conference scheduled for Nov. 14.

Rundgren's affidavit states he was arrested on Sept. 9 after officers called in a canine search on baggage in the musician's luggage compartment. The rock singer stated to police that he was on his way to Fargo-Moorhead. Though the dogs found nothing in the bags, officers searched the interior of the bus and brought in a female associate of Rundgren's for questioning. The associate was asked to remove all currency from her purse. As she did so, "a small bag containing two marijuana cigarettes" allegedly fell out out of the purse. The woman was arrested for possession of marijuana. Meanwhile, a search of the bus uncovered five glass containers of liquid THC, an active component in marijuana, and two vaporizers. Rundgren said the liquid THC was a gift from a Canadian fan. He also said he didn't know the substance was illegal in North Dakota. LIke Etheridge, both Rundgren and the associate signed promises to appear in Burke County Court on Oct. 10. Rundgren pleaded guilty two days later and has an initial appearance scheduled for Nov. 11.

Andrew Haffner

Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.

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