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Smoking weed and doing time

February 16, 2012

2. Law, 4. Arrest, 7. Post-Trial

Smoking weed and doing time

First, don’t apply the “non-violent” label to stoners too quickly.  See here.  But let’s assume that we have a true non-violent offender.  The dude just smokes weed and wears pajamas in public.

How does Pennsylvania law address him?  We’re gonna use a “small amount” of weed – that’s 30 grams.  Dude, if you’re carrying more than an ounce, smarten up.  Quit carrying a party in your pocket.  A small amount of weed will buy you up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.  Jail time?  Ayep.  Remember, we’re not a medical-marijuana state and judges often disassociate their drinking problem from you smoking weed – “marijuana is a gateway drug,” they’ll intone.  “Next thing we know you’ll be smoking crack and breaking into houses to support your habit.  I’m doing you a favor by giving you a month’s vacation in the County Hotel to think about the direction your life is going.”

OK.

The rules are the rules.  A “small amount” is 30 grams.  So is a roach in your ashtray.  So is a seed in your carpet.  Got papers or a roach clip?  That’s paraphernalia – another crime.  I don’t want to hear that it’s unfair, that methheads and crackheads are the real problem.  Rules are rules.

You growing your own?  I know a dozen plants isn’t a lot.  But that’ll buy you one year mandatory minimum jail time.  Two dozen plants will buy you three years – and now we’re talking possible state prison time.  There’s some mean people doing state time.  You don’t want to go there.  Wearing your pajamas all day invites certain friends you’d rather not have.

And having pot around a school leads to sentencing that you don’t even want to read.

So what do you do?  First, recognize that weed is an illegal substance no different than holding a bundle of heroin – only the sentencing is different.  Both are crimes.  Don’t be lazy and stupid about possession.  Some cops love to bust stoners.

Second, remember that being charged with possession is a crime, and that opens all the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendment attacks against the prosecution.  At that time, it’s no different than defending against a Burglary or Homicide charge.  Game on.

You’re not going to change the laws after you’re arrested.  If you feel strongly enough about decriminalizing possession of weed, then vote.  Get involved with NORML.  Do something to support the cause.

And get an attorney when you leave the Magistrate’s office.

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About Clyde

Clyde is the lead attorney in the firm. Licensed to practice in 1993, he's also taught Constitutional and Criminal Law for several years at a private university, primarily at the Master's level.

View all posts by Clyde

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