Across the country, states are changing their position on marijuana as a drug. Nearly half of all states have decriminalized marijuana for medical use, with California becoming the first. More states are joining Colorado and Washington to decriminalize recreational pot use. California may decide whether to make recreational marijuana legal later this year, but for now, it remains a Schedule 1 drug.
This November, Californians may be deciding whether to legalize recreational marijuana. A similar measure, Proposition 19, failed to pass in 2010. But advocates think now may be the time, after the worst-case-scenarios failed to materialize in Colorado and Washington. Instead, some lawmakers see are seeing green in the vast money-making potential that would come from taxing legal pot purchases. However, until such a law passes, marijuana sales carry serious criminal charges.
Local East Bay law enforcement may not be too concerned about a small amount of marijuana for personal use, and may simply issue a citation. However, the most serious criminal charges dealing with marijuana involve cultivation, trafficking and sales. Federal trafficking of large amounts of marijuana can carry a minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, with the possibility of to life imprisonment.
A Bay Point home was recently busted, with Sheriff's deputies recovering 16 pounds of marijuana. According to law enforcement, they conducted a “protective sweep” of a home on South Bella Monte Avenue, which they suspected was being used to process and distribute pot. They estimate the drugs found to have a street value of almost $12,000.
A Pleasant Hill man was driving through Healdsburg when police stopped his truck. When the officer approached 49-year-old Art Banks, he reportedly smelled marijuana, and saw plastic trays with small marijuana plants. Upon searching the vehicle, police found almost 600 plants, and cultivation equipment. Banks was arrested and booked into the Sonoma County Jail.
When police officers in San Leandro were called on a report of an armed robbery, the victim found himself facing criminal charges. 48-year-old Xihuan Ye called police, telling them that 3 armed men tried to rob him, although nothing was taken. Instead, police found an illegal marijuana growing operation. According to police, the set-up was capable of producing more than $300,000 worth of pot a year. Ye was booked into the Santa Rita Jail.
California sheriff's deputies are charged with enforcing drug laws, regardless of their personal opinion on marijuana criminalization. However, instead of enforcing the law, one deputy was recently arrested for breaking federal law for his role in a cross-country trafficking operation. Former deputy Christopher Heath was charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.
If you are arrested for a drug possession or driving under the influence of marijuana, your arrest does not have to end in a conviction. With more than 30 years of experience defending people facing drug charges and drugged driving in the East Bay, Lynn Gorelick understands the local laws and penalties involved. Contact a local East Bay criminal defense attorney who understands the theft charges you are facing, and is familiar with the local laws, prosecutors and the courts.