Another Unconstitutional War 27


From 1919 to 1933, we conducted a national experiment in drug prohibition.

The drug of choice at that time (besides marijuana and opium) was alcohol. The 18th Amendment made it illegal and sparked off a bloody war that only the 21st Amendment could bring to an end.  That is important to note. The only constitutional amendment in the history of our country to be repealed was the one that outlawed personal behavior.  To outlaw personal behavior actually took an amendment to the Constitution, yet four years after the end of prohibition, the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was passed.

More than 70 years after the marijuana witch hunt was started at the behest of Dupont and Hearst and Standard Oil, our misguided and mismanaged “War on Drugs” continues to destroy hundreds of thousands of lives every year. We continue to lock up more people than any other country in the world, the vast majority of whom are non-violent drug offenders. We overload the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) to the point that white child molesters go free after only a short time in jail while a black teen can get decades behind bars for a bag of weed.

All without a Constitutional amendment.

We have made it a habit to violate the Constitution whole cloth and then wonder why nothing works the way it should. We aren’t following the blue print. We weren’t supposed to spend a trillion dollars a year policing the world. We weren’t meant to spend 500 billion a year locking up people for using drugs. We weren’t given a plan to create a unitary executive controlling a leviathan federal budget with little or no accountability to the legislative or judicial branches, let alone We The People who pay the bills. We have a very clear duty as citizens of a representative republic, yet most Americans choose an illusion of security over Constitutional guarantees.

We became a police state at our own request.

We begged them to save us, abrogating our rights for fear of “criminals” and “terrorists” to the point that cops now look like they are in the military and most citizens are now potential enemies. Many swagger around with automatic weapons and pants tucked into their “combat” boots. It takes two cars to conduct a routine traffic stop. They treat everyone like a criminal, even more so if you are not white. It’s actually kind of insulting to see them acting like being a cop is the same as being in the military.

As if serving the public on the average American street is on par with Iraq or Lebanon.

Many police do an admirable job in very dangerous situations, but the tone and tenor of some has become decidedly aggressive in recent years. Most of this attitude is a result of the War on Drugs. When you have been convinced that this is a war, even though all evidence points to the exact opposite, then it becomes easier to justify unacceptable behavior. We need to practice broken window policing. New York City didn’t clean up its crime problem by turning out beat cops in SWAT uniforms. They did it by cleaning graffiti off the trains and policing the stations better.

We will never get a real solution like that though.  Not with the American mindset of fear trumping all other considerations.

Between our corporate controlled media and a Prison Industrial Complex that is making some people very rich, politicians in both parties pass laws to prove they are tough on crime when all they do is make our city streets more lawless and thus feeding the system more kids. It is pathetic and tragic and a huge waste of our country’s potential. This is a hemorrhage in our body politic and unless we fix it, we will bleed to death at some point. This cannot be sustained anymore than our cancerous “growth” in the stock market can be sustained.

We’re in a lot of trouble.

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27 thoughts on “Another Unconstitutional War

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I suspect as marijuana is mostly decriminalized and commercialized in the coming years, the other hard drugs will at least become more of an abuse problem rather than a criminal one.

      No one should be put in jail for wrestling their demons, unless they commit a real crime in the process, but rehabilitation should always be the end goal.

      That legal pharmaceuticals are beginning to come under more scrutiny gives me hope that at least this one linerging injustice can finally be scrubbed from our societal conscience.

  • *

    We create laws to outlaw substance abuse without the slightest amount of hesitation, but throw up barricades and hunker down with a siege mentality over health care reform. Figure out that enigma!

    • thepeoplechoose

      Not so perplexing actually. One makes money, under a legal but corrupt framework, for corporations, the other doesn’t. These are the two opposing bookends of a corrupt society.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      We divert people who would otherwise use illegal drugs into a system of legalized self-medication with white-coated pushers and insurance company enablers.

      Once again, we use the most inefficient and insane methods to deliver what should be common sense societal norms thus getting very little actual benefit from any of those investments.

      Something is changing around the world with regards to this continuining travesty of logic, but where that paradigm shift stops is anyone’s guess.

  • TJ

    Good post, Jason. I’m glad to see that you, too, are mad as hell.

    Unfortunately, drug prohibition is one of those unholy alliances between criminal enterprises and various government agencies. Illegal drugs benefit both. The insanity of funneling untold billions of dollars to drug cartels is matched only by the willfully ignored corruption it causes within the law enforcement and legal establishment. Add to that the number of jobs supported by prohibition: DEA and law enforcement, arms and gadget manufacturers, the prison/industrial complex, planes, trains and automobiles. Why, ending prohibition could be enough to throw the economy into depression. Besides, there wouldn’t be enough jobs for all those people we wouldn’t be throwing into prison.
    Unless, of course, they would like to spend a year or two in Afghanistan. Besides, think what a devastating effect legalisation would have on our struggling Pharma industry.

    Ah, the joys of living in a national security state. Unfortunately, the “mad-as-hells” are way outnumbered by the “keep-us-safes”. The political uses of fear and prejudice have been honed to a razor’s edge. Throw in a few billions for bribes and corruption and you’ve got a great recipe for social control.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I don’t think Orwell’s imagination was big enough to encompass how our domination was actually accomplished, hoping nothing less than total subjugation by Big Brother could bring a free society to its knees.

      Little could he have imagined that all it would take were visions of crack addicts and terrorists to make a nation of “rugged individualists” bend over in fear. As long as we have our big screens and our Big Macs, it’s all good in the neighborhood.

      Makes me embarrassed to be an American most days, but I guess the problem is bigger than that since other countries have the same issues. I suppose that mean I am embarrassed to be human, which is even more depressing.

  • Libertine

    Not that any of this will be implemented but we need to legalize marijuana then review each of the other banned substances, in terms of addictiveness and societal cost, to see which can be fully legalized and which ones would need to be controlled.

    The prohibition of marijuana, while much more dangerous substances are ‘legal’, is ill advised and a monumental waste of tax payer dollars. Never mind the amount of money that could be raised by our government by modestly taxing the consumption of marijuana. But after the HCR debacle why would I ever think the people running this country would implement any policy which is both smart and effective is beyond me…

  • Parvus

    Drug money is the substratum that supports too many enterprises for it ever to change. Wall Street launders billions of dollars in illicit drug profits in addition to the legal profits drug companies make.

    As for the police, when I was working I used to tell the people who worked for me that the community we were in belonged to the people in it and that we were there to look out for them, not to be an occupying army. Too few of them understood what I was saying and the people at the top of the organization encouraged disrespect for the members of the community by the police.

    Now that we illegally occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, why not come out in the open here at home? Drop the facade so that everyone who’s allowed this to happen can see the end result of their complaisance and tacit permission to ignore and trash the constitution.

  • Parvus

    Drug money is the substratum that supports too many enterprises for it ever to change. Wall Street launders billions of dollars in illicit drug profits in addition to the legal profits drug companies make.

    As for the police, when I was working I used to tell the people who worked for me that the community we were in belonged to the people in it and that we were there to look out for them, not to be an occupying army. Too few of them understood what I was saying and the people at the top of the organization encouraged disrespect for the members of the community by the police.

    Now that we illegally occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, why not come out in the open here at home? Drop the facade so that everyone who’s allowed this to happen can see the end result of their complaisance and tacit permission to ignore and trash the constitution.

  • Parvus

    Drug money is the substratum that supports too many enterprises for it ever to change. Wall Street launders billions of dollars in illicit drug profits in addition to the legal profits drug companies make.

    As for the police, when I was working I used to tell the people who worked for me that the community we were in belonged to the people in it and that we were there to look out for them, not to be an occupying army. Too few of them understood what I was saying and the people at the top of the organization encouraged disrespect for the members of the community by the police.

    Now that we illegally occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, why not come out in the open here at home? Drop the facade so that everyone who’s allowed this to happen can see the end result of their complaisance and tacit permission to ignore and trash the constitution.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I think there is always a way out, but it will require deft footwork and convincing the rubes they’ve been had.

      It’s been known to work, given the right pitch. After all, it was a pitchman that got us into this shit in the first place.

      I don’t think Americans will take much convincing when it comes to weed, though the rest may take more time and effort to sort out.

  • stillidealistic

    Good essay, Jason.

    The war on drugs has been an abysmal failure. At the very least, marijuana should be legalized and taxed. It is no more dangerous than alcohol, in fact, I would submit it is safer…when was the last time you heard of someone getting high on weed and going home and smacking his family around?

    As for medical marijuana…it was the only thing that gave our daughter any relief at all from the nausea that racked her as she was dieing from melanoma. I salute the Obama administration for directing the Feds to back off the medical marijuana outlets.

    Someone sent me a great article from the WSJ…I can’t find the link, so I’m sending the text. Sorry to make such a long comment, but it is SOOO worth the read:

    Saving Mexico

    In the 40 years since U.S. President Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs,” the supply and use of drugs has not changed in any fundamental way. The only difference: a taxpayer bill of more than $1 trillion.

    A senior Mexican official who has spent more than two decades helping fight the government’s war on drugs summed up recently what he’s learned from his long career: “This war is not winnable.”

    Just last week, Mexican Navy Special Forces swarmed a luxury apartment tower in a central city and gunned down Arturo Beltrán Leyva, a drug trafficker whose organization helped smuggle several billion dollars worth of cocaine and marijuana into the U.S. during the past decade, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

    Within days of Mr. Beltrán Leyva’s death, Mexican officials were already trying to guess which of his lieutenants would take his place. Almost no one expected the death of Mr. Beltrán Leyva to slow down the business of drug trafficking or the horrific drug-related violence in Mexico that has claimed around 15,000 lives in the past three years. On Monday, hit men gunned down several family members of a Mexican naval officer who had been killed in the Beltrán Leyva raid. Four people have been arrested in connection with the killing, though Mexican authorities say the hit men are still at large.

    Growing numbers of Mexican and U.S. officials say—at least privately—that the biggest step in hurting the business operations of Mexican cartels would be simply to legalize their main product: marijuana. Long the world’s most popular illegal drug, marijuana accounts for more than half the revenues of Mexican cartels.

    “Economically, there is no argument or solution other than legalization, at least of marijuana,” said the top Mexican official matter-of-factly. The official said such a move would likely shift marijuana production entirely to places like California, where the drug can be grown more efficiently and closer to consumers. “Mexico’s objective should be to make the U.S. self-sufficient in marijuana,” he added with a grin.

    He is not alone in his views. Earlier this year, three former Latin American presidents known for their free-market and conservative credentials—Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, Cesar Gaviria of Colombia and Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil—said governments should seriously consider legalizing marijuana as an effective tool against murderous drug gangs.

    If the war on drugs has failed, analysts say it is partly because it has been waged almost entirely as a la w-and-order issue, without understanding of how cartels work as a business.

    For instance, U.S. anti-drug policy inadvertently helped Mexican gangs gain power. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the U.S. government cracked down on the transport of cocaine from Colombia to U.S. shores through the Caribbean, the lowest-cost supply route. But that simply diverted the flow to the next lowest-cost route: through Mexico. In 1991, 50% of the U.S.-bound cocaine came through Mexico. By 2004, 90% did. Mexico became the FedEx of the cocaine business.

    That change in the supply chain came as Colombia waged a successful war to break up the country’s Cali and Medellin cartels into dozens of smaller suppliers. Both moves helped the Mexican gangs, who gained pricing power in the market. Before, the Colombian cartels told Mexicans what price they would pay for wholesale cocaine. Now, Mexican gangs play smaller Colombian suppliers off of each other to get the best price. Mexican gangs are “price setters” instead of “price takers.”

    Some Mexican officials say privately that the U.S. should seriously consider allowing cocaine to pass more easily through the Caribbean again in order to squeeze Mexican gangs. “Would you rather destabilize small countries in the Caribbean or Mexico, which shares a 2,000-mile border with the U.S., is your third-biggest trading partner and has 100 million people?” one official said.

    Today, the world’s most successful drug trafficking organizations are found in Mexico. Unlike Colombian drug gangs in the 1980s, who relied almost entirely on cocaine, Mexican drug gangs are a one-stop shop for four big-time illicit drugs: marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines and heroin. Mexico is the world’s second biggest producer of marijuana (the U.S. is No. 1), the major supplier of methamphetamines to the U.S., the key transit point for U.S.-bound cocaine from South America and the hemisphere’s biggest producer of heroin.

    This diversification helps them absorb shocks from the business. Sales of cocaine in the U.S., for instance, slipped slightly from 2006 to 2008. But that decline was more than made up for by growing sales of methamphetamines.

    In many ways, illegal drugs are the most successful Mexican multinational enterprise, employing some 450,000 Mexicans and generating about $20 billion in sales, second only behind the country’s oil industry and automotive industry exports. This year, Forbes magazine put Mexican drug lord Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman as No. 401 on the world’s list of billionaires.

    Unlike their rough-hewn parents and uncles, today’s young traffickers wear Armani suits, carry BlackBerrys and hit the gym for exercise. One drug lord’s accountant who was arrested in 2006 had a mid-level job at Mexico’s central bank for 15 years.

    Recently, Mexico’s deputy agriculture minister, Jeffrey Jones, told some of the country’s leading farmers that they could learn a thing or two from Mexican drug traffickers. “It’s a sector that has learned to identify markets and create the logistics to reach them,” he said. Days later, Mr. Jones was forced to resign. “He may be right,” one top Mexican official confided, “but you can’t say things like that publicly.”

    Mr. Jones says he stands by his comments.

    Because governments make drugs illegal, the risk associated with transporting them translates to high rewards for those willing to take that risk. The wholesale price of a single kilo of cocaine, for instance, costs $1,200 in Colombia, $2,300 in Panama, $8,300 in Mexico, and between $15,000 and $25,000 in the U.S., depending on how close you are to the Mexican border. At a retail level on the streets of New York, it can run close to $80,000. With markups like that, the business is bound to keep attracting new entrants, no matter what governments do to stop it.

    Governments also have a hard time stopping the drugs trade because, like any good business, trafficking organizations innovate and adapt. Mexican customs has stumbled upon a long list of ingenious methods to transport cocaine, including one shipment of liquefied cocaine smuggled in red wine bottles. Another recent bust yielded 800 kilos of cocaine—worth an estimated $40 million—stuffed inside a batch of frozen sharks.

    After Mexico restricted the importation of pseudoephedrine to slow the manufacture of methamphetamines, drug gangs found another way to make the drug using different, unrestricted chemicals widely used in the perfume industry. “I’ve always thought these guys had a good research and development arm,” says one exasperated Mexican official.

    Advocates for drug legalization say making marijuana legal would cut the economic clout of Mexican cartels by half. Marijuana accounts for anywhere between 50% to 65% of Mexican cartel revenues, say Mexican and U.S. officials. While cocaine has higher profit margins, marijuana is a steady source of income that allows cartels to meet payroll and fund other activities.

    Marijuana is also less risky to a drug gang’s balance sheet. If a cocaine shipment is seized, the Mexican gang has to write off the expected profits from the shipment and the cost of paying Colombian suppliers, meaning they lose twice. But because gangs here grow their own marijuana, it’s easier to absorb the losses from a seizure. Cartels also own the land where the marijuana is grown, meaning they can cheaply grow more supply rather than have to fork over more money to the Colombians for the next shipment of cocaine.

    Several U.S. states like California and Oregon have decriminalized marijuana, making possession of small quantities a misdemeanor, like a parking ticket. Decriminalization falls short of legalization because the sale and distribution remain a serious felony. One of the big reasons for the move is to reduce the problem of overcrowded and costly prisons.

    While this strategy may make sense domestically for the U.S., Mexican officials say it is the worst possible outcome for Mexico, because it guarantees demand for the drug by eliminating the risk that if you buy you go to jail. But it keeps the supply chain illegal, ensuring that organized crime will be the drug’s supplier.

    Making pot legal might actually increase violence south of the border even more in the short term, with drug gangs fighting over a smaller economic pie of the remaining illegal drugs. But it would eventually reduce the overall financial clout of cartels.

    If more radical options like legalizing prove impossible, then some analysts say Washington and Mexico City should at least refocus the battle against drugs along economic lines.

    Until recently, Mexican police almost never looked at a cartel’s finances. During a 2006 raid of a drug traffickers Mexico City home, police found a hand-written ledger describing the cartel’s cocaine business for a single month: the price paid to Colombian suppliers ($3,500 per kilo), the sale price here in Mexico ($8,200 per kilo) and the cartel’s net profit of $18 million. Police didn’t bother to keep the piece of paper, according to people who participated in the raid.

    “We’ve been attacking the players rather than attacking the industry. We need to focus on shrinking their markets and raising their operating costs,” said Alberto Islas, a 40-year-old with an economics degree from MIT who runs a private security consulting company in Mexico City.

    For the first time, Mexico’s government is paying more attention to drugs as a business. A new 2% tax on cash deposits greater than $1,250 in bank accounts gives tax authorities a better picture of Mexico’s cash economy—the currency of the drugs trade. Just this year, authorities found five people with unexplained cash deposits of more than $4 million, including one from a man who doesn’t even have a formal job.

    Mexican customs is also trying—for the first time—to disrupt the flow of guns and money that return from the U.S. to Mexico in exchange for the drugs. Disrupting that flow is crucial to cartel finances: Mexican gangs send drugs north, and get cash and guns in return.

    For decades, people crossing into the U.S. from Mexico have been subjected to rigorous checks, but Mexico never bothered to check people coming back from the other direction. Now, cars coming from the U.S. will be blocked by a mechanical arm. License-plate photographs will be run against a criminal database in Mexico City, while a scale and vehicle-scanning system will determine if the car may be overloaded with contraband. Dogs trained to locate weapons and money will roam the area.

    “Cash is king. Every bit of money we seize hits the cartels directly on the bottom line,” says Alfredo Gutierrez Ortiz, the head of Mexico’s tax authority.

    But Mr. Gutierrez has also been around long enough to know Mexico is not going to stamp out the drugs trade here entirely.

    “We must raise the transaction cost, make it too expensive for them to use Mexico as an export platform relative to other countries,” he said. “But the demand itself—well, that’s not going to go away.”

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Mexico is certainly the writing on the wall when it comes to our own laws.

      Without their full support, the War on Weed falls apart, though harder drugs will remain as bogeymen.

      Sadly ironic given the nation’s dependence on pharmaceuticals.

    • dickday

      My Goodness STilli. Well I hereby render unto you the Dayly Comment of the Day Award for this here TPMCafe Site, given to all of you from all of me.

      You and Neo could do some college classes on our friends to the South.

      Very well done Stilli.

      Now I have to read it, reread it and read it again.

  • chucktrotter

    We are training our future law enforcement personnel at this moment…In Iraq and Afghanistan.
    What does a young individual do for a living after discharged if (s)he has been fully trained in the art of breaking things and firing weapons? I know that law enforcement analyzes pre-hires, but no system is fool-proof.

    • Kuyleh

      I currently stand in the back of an Arby’s and make sandwiches for 6-8 hours every day. One of my friends got out and went back to school while living with his parents. Another is now a stay at home mother. I have several others I could list if you’re interested.

      We’re not psychotics. We can be normal people, I promise.

      • chucktrotter

        Kuy:
        I’m a vet with two loved ones active and two recently discharged. I’ll take a vet anytime! And, thank you for your service. As you must be aware, intense battle environments effect people in many ways. The VA is estimating about 20% of returnees suffer PTDS to some extent. My post was not meant to demean one of you vets.

        • JEP07

          I don’t worry near as much about GI’s coming home locked and loaded as I do the Blackheart contractors…

          …what, did I misspell something there?

          I think not.

          • chucktrotter

            Don’t know any mercenaries. Did have some dealings with spec ops types. One never knew.

  • A Guy Called Lulu

    In a previous life I was a union rep for a while and one legalization problem became very evident, although in a roundabout way.
    The company I worked for was trying to reduce its unionized workforce anyway they could so they used any excuse to force a urine test for drugs. A person might have smoked a week before and be standing next to a piece of equipment when it failed and end up fired because they tested positive for marijuana. If another person had actually smoked five minutes before and being high was a factor in his dropping a monkey wrench into the machinery the test would come out just the same. Positive. Fired. Only one deserved to be disciplined.
    I am for legalization. I have been since the first time I smoked a dooby in Texas 45 years ago, which at that time made me subject to life in prison. I could not though argue with a person who expected their airline pilot to be straight while on duty.
    A test such as one which measures current blood alcohol level is needed.

  • OldenGoldenDecoy

    Yesterday was the 35th Anniversary . . .Since January 1, 1975California law made possession under one ounce of cannabis for non-medical use punishable by a $100 fine; stricter punishments exist for amounts exceeding an ounce, possession on school grounds, or subsequent violations or for sale or cultivation.

    CaliforniaHealth & Safety Code Section 11357ARTICLE 2: MARIJUANA §11357. Unlawful possession: punishment (b) Except as authorized by law, every person who possesses not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, other than concentrated cannabis, is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100). Notwithstanding other provisions of law, if such person has been previously convicted three or more times of an offense described in this subdivision during the two-year period immediately preceding the date of commission of the violation to be charged, the previous convictions shall also be charged in the accusatory pleading and, if found to be true by the jury upon a jury trial or by the court upon a court trial or if admitted by the person, the provisions of Sections l000.1 and 1000.2 of the Penal Code shall be applicable to him, and the court shall divert and refer him for education, treatment, or rehabilitation, without a court hearing or determination or the concurrence of the district attorney, to an appropriate community program which will accept him. If the person is so diverted and referred he shall not be subject to the fine specified in this subdivision. If no community program will accept him, the person shall be subject to the fine specified in this subdivision. In any case in which a person is arrested for a violation of this subdivision and does not demand to be taken before a magistrate, such person shall be released by the arresting officer upon presentation of satisfactory evidence of identity and giving his written promise to appear in court, as provided in Section 853.6 of the Penal Code, and shall not be subjected to booking. (c) Except as authorized by law, every person who possesses more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, other than concentrated cannabis, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than six months or by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or by both such fine and imprisonment. (d) Except as authorized by law, every person 18 years of age or over who possesses not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, other than concentrated cannabis, upon the grounds of, or within, any school providing instruction in kindergarten or any of grades 1 through 12 during hours the school is open for classes or school-related programs is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than 10 days, or both. (e) Except as authorized by law, every person under the age of 18 who possesses not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, other than concentrated cannabis, upon the grounds of, or within, any school providing instruction in kindergarten or any of grades 1 through 12 during hours the school is open for classes or school-related programs is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to the following dispositions: (1) A fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250), upon a finding that a first offense has been committed. (2) A fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or commitment to a juvenile hall, ranch, camp, forestry camp, or secure juvenile home for a period of not more than 10 days, or both, upon a finding that a second or subsequent offense has been committed.

    And, from CaliforniaNorml — the explanation of the caveats to the above law:

    California’s Marijuana Laws Possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor under California Health and Safety Code Section 11357. Possession of one ounce (28.5 gms) or less is punishable by a maximum $100 fine. Jail time is possible for larger amounts or for hashish, which is an optional felony (“wobbler”). However, under Prop 36, effective July 1, 2001, first- and second- time possession-only offenders may demand a treatment program instead of jail. Upon successful completion of the program, their conviction is erased. Possession (and personal use cultivation) offenders can also avoid conviction by making a preguilty plea under Penal Code 1000, in which case their charges are dismissed upon successful completion of a diversion program. Possession offenses are expunged from the record after two years under Health and Safety Code Sections 11361.5 and 11361.7. Possession of one ounce or less in a vehicle while driving may also be charged under Vehicle Code 23222, which is treated identically to HSC 11357 B. No arrest or imprisonment is allowed for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. However, police often get around this provision by charging minor offenders with intent to sell (see below). Marijuana defined. “Marijuana means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds, or its resin. It does not include the mature stalks of the plant, fiber produced from the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the steilized seed of the plant which is incapable of germination” (H&SC 11018). Possession with intent to sell any amount of marijuana is a felony under Health and Safety Code 11359. Police often charge intent to sell if they see such indicia as: scales, cash, multiple packages, “commercial” packaging materials, “excessive” quantity, pay-owe seets, address books, pagers, etc. Cultivation of any amount of marijuana is a felony under Health and Safety Code 11358. People who grow for personal use are eligible for diversion under Penal Code 1000 so long as there is no evidence of intent to sell. There are no fixed plant number limits to personal use cultivation.Medical marijuana: Medical patients and their designated primary caregivers may legally possess and cultivate, but not distribute or sell, marijuana under Health and Safety Code 11362.5 (Prop 215) if they have a physician’s recommendation or approval. Sale, transportation or distribution of marijuana is a felony under Health and Safety Code Sections 11360. Transporting or giving away one ounce or less is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $100 fine. Sale or distribution to minors is a felony under Health and Safety Code 11361. Marijuana paraphernalia are illegal to sell or manufacture, but not possess, under Healt
    h and Safety Code 11364
    . All marijuana paraphernalia are subject to seizure by the police. Driving suspension for minors: Any minor (age under 21) convicted of any marijuana, alcohol, or other drug offense faces a 12-month drivers license suspension, regardless of whether the offense was driving-related. The court may allow restricted license privileges if the minor demonstrates a “critical need to drive.” Vehicle Code 13202.5. (Note: This penalty can be avoided by entering a diversion program). Driving under the influence: It is unlawful to drive while under the influence of marijuana (or alcohol or any other drug) by Vehicle Code 23152. “Under the influence” is not specifically defined in the statute, but is interpreted to imply some degree of impairment. Therefore the mere fact of having taken a toke of marijuana does not necessarily mean one is DUI. For evidence of impairment, officers may administer a field sobriety test. Arrestees may also be required to submit to their choice of a urine or blood test under Vehicle Code 23612. Since marijuana is detectable for much longer periods in urine than in blood (several days vs. several hours), a positive urine test constitutes much weaker proof of recent use and impairment than a positive blood test. If you haven’t smoked marijuana recently and are not under the influence, you are better off to choose a blood test, since you will probably pass it. However, if you are a chronic smoker or have smoked recently, you are better off to choose a urine test; even though you can expect to test positive, the question will at least remain open as to whether you were actually “under the influence” at time of arrest. Marijuana in a Vehicle: Drivers found in possession of less than one ounce of marijuana in their vehicle are liable for a maximum $100 misdemeanor fine under Vehicle Code 23222 (larger amounts are punishable under H&SC 11357(a) and 11359). Forfeiture: Unlike federal law, California law requires a conviction for forfeiture of property involved in a drug crime. Also unlike federal law, state law does not permit forfeiture of personal real estate for marijuana cultivation. Vehicles may be forfeited only if 10 pounds or more of marijuana is involved. Health and Safety Code 11470. California Law search full text of codes: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html Federal Law: Marijuana is also illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Federal charges are typically brought only in large cases where commercial distribution is suspected (e.g., cultivation of several hundred plants).

    ~OGD~

    • Jason Everett Miller

      All of these are very good laws I would be happy to follow.

      Colorado just implemented essentially the same law. Congress recently allowed DC to advance with the medical marijunana law they passed ten years ago.

      Commercialization is the best way to legitimize marijuana.

  • JEP07

    Well, JEM, we are sure on the same page on this issue, which probably scares the crap out of the synthetic fiber industry.

    The biggest result of legalization of pot will be the entry of hemp back on the ag market. Sure, the lower cost of fighting crime, and the freedom of otherwise law-abiding Americans all count for something, but when it comes to the bottom line, it is the loss of marijuana, AKA INDUSTRIAL HEMP as an agricultural mainstay that had the biggest iompact on our culture.

    There’s been enough linkage already referenced in these comments to Make Jack Herrer happier than usual, and rightly so.

    It is simply a travesty that so many people suffered such severe legal repercussions for something that grows wild in the ditches. Someday when I feel like this blog isn’t hovered over by people with an agenda, I’ll tell you all my own sordid tale.

    And that is for another blog.

    But, for now, when we eventually tally up the cost of the war on drugs, created primarily to keep this versatile plant off the open market in the US, we will discover that we have not only wasted billions of state, county and municipal resources on local law enforcement fiascos and incarceration of American citizens, (not to mention the billions the DEA LITERALLY WASTES nationally) we also sacrificed TRILLIONS (as in “THE DEFICIT”) in agricultural trade and profits, to protect DuPont, Monsanto and many other poison syntheticists from the free enterprise of competition.

    Monopolists come in many forms, but one day we will look back and see how powerful they were in this issue, to have taken one of agriculture’s most versatile options out of the farmer’s loop so completely, by institutionally vilifying it as a dangerous drug.

    Without the madness of “Reefer Madness” they could never have taken hemp off the ag market.