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» Entries tagged with "Marijuana"

The Enemy Is All Of Us

You’d probably think that Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s moral compass is tried and true. It certainly should be, as he leads one of the nation’s largest public prosecutorial agencies. His office chooses who to charge, what to charge, and what pleas to offer in this gigantic county of ours, and for most of the individuals his deputies prosecute, he might as well be omnipotent. Unfortunately, his ability to distinguish right and wrong, and accordingly the good guys from the bad guys, seems deeply flawed. In a recent debate with my friend (and awesome criminal defense attorney) Marc Victor, he called a US military veteran an “enemy” for smoking marijuana. The New Times described the exchange, which occurred during a question and answer session at the end … Read entire article »

Filed under: Prosecutors

Let This Be A Lesson

If you read it carefully, the recent opinion from the Arizona Court of Appeals in State v. Woods can tell you a lot about how criminal appeals work in Arizona. In it, the trial court judge did something very unusual and suppressed evidence obtained during a lawful initial stop and subsequent search of a car because the defendant refused to allow the officer to search some boxes and the officer had no information “to suggest a basis for reasonable suspicion as to the transportation of illegal substances.” The officer had first found the boxes in question during a supposed consent search. The appellate court wrote that the trial court “acknowledged” that their “consistency and density” was “consistent with his experience with packaging of illegal substances.” The use of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Drugs

A Big Year For Marijuana DUI

In Arizona, a marijuana DUI used to be a pretty cut and dried thing. The law said it was a crime to be in actual control of a vehicle with marijuana “or its metabolite” in your body, and courts treated it as a strict liability offense for all metabolites, regardless of impairment. Marijuana DUIs were pretty much all charged under two subsections: (A)(1), which requires proof of impairment to the slightest degree, and (A)(3), the strict liability subsection that did not. Luckily, that changed when the Supreme Court of Arizona held last April that drivers cannot be convicted of the (A)(3) offense based merely on the presence of a non-impairing metabolite that may reflect prior usage of marijuana. As the opinion explained, THC is the primary psychoactive component … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI

Another Shameful Win For The Drug Warriors

I gave a client a ride to court yesterday morning. He’d flown into the Phoenix airport from the other side of the country and didn’t have transportation. It would’ve been a record-breaking cab fare for him, so I offered and he accepted. We probably don’t have an awful lot in common, and his English is about as good as my Spanish. He’s an incredibly nice guy, though. He fielded one teary phone call after another from one family member after another during the drive. I tried not to eavesdrop, but there was one thing I couldn’t help but catch: Daddy’s going to work. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone. It might be a long time. Be a good boy. Be good … Read entire article »

Filed under: Drugs

Victimless Non-Violent Federal Drug Crimes

I enjoy reading Richard Kopf‘s blog, Hercules and the Umpire. He’s a federal trial judge in Nebraska who mixes self-effacing honesty with humor and the sort of intellect and consistency that tend to be present in the best judges I’ve encountered. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a man with a lot of power, but it’s also at times a disturbing glimpse into the world of someone who can make the things he believes have real impacts on the real people who appear in front of him no matter how wrong he might be. A post of his from last month asked, “Are drug crimes ‘victimless’?” He previously wrote more about his views in another post entitled “No more bullshit: In the federal courts, there is … Read entire article »

Filed under: Drugs, Judges

In Other News, the Sky Is Blue and Marijuana Prohibition Is Bullshit

FourthAmendment.com put up a link yesterday to this New York Times story. Its title, “Blacks Are Singled Out for Marijuana Arrests, Data Suggests,” is news to exactly no one. Any perceptive human being who has set foot inside a criminal courthouse could also tell you the racial bias doesn’t end with the arrest. There are some other awful trends that quickly became apparent to me practicing criminal law in Arizona. I saw white defendants caught with marijuana for the first time get misdemeanor citations to appear in city or justice courts. Black defendants in the same position got felony charges in superior court. After charges, white defendants went through diversion, avoiding a conviction. Black defendants ended up pleading to misdemeanors. The second time around, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

Homebrew and Hypocrites

Obama is supposedly a big fan of beer. A while back, I read about how he apparently started brewing beer at the White House. Of course, it turned out his staff actually brewed the beer, not him, but it seemed the endeavor was at least partially his doing. I had to give him some credit for that. Today, I saw a link to this page on the White House’s website, so I clicked through. It’s a pun-ridden little blurb from Sam Kass, an assistant chef at the White House, followed by recipes for the White House beers. I’m neither an extract brewer nor a fan of honey beers, so the recipes weren’t all that interesting to me, but the blurb itself caught my attention. Specifically, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

Some (Un)Sound Advice

I often hear some really dumb things from prosecutors, but yesterday, I might have heard one of the dumbest things to date. It was in a DUI drug case where the prosecutor made a plea offer with no benefit to my client. I filed a number of motions, and yesterday was the motion hearing. From the beginning, my client has wanted to plead. He just doesn’t want to lose his license for a year, which is the case with DUI drugs, so we asked for him to plead to DUI for being impaired to the slightest degree, a different subsection with a 90-day license suspension attached. It’s a case where the supposed marijuana use was a day before driving. My client is young and has no … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI, Prosecutors

Better Ban Spice

According to the Arizona Republic, the Drug Enforcement Administration is giving head shops until Christmas Eve to get rid of all their “Spice.” Spice is a synthetic drug intended to mimic the effects of marijuana. Because its effects are so unpredictable and it is so readily available, the DEA has decided to ban the drug for a year to conduct tests. I didn’t know much about spice before today, but I learned a lot reading the article. Spice is apparently produced by taking chemical compounds from overseas manufacturers and spraying those compounds onto dried herbs. The chemicals bind to the same receptor in a human brain as the active ingredient in marijuana, but it’s more powerful than marijuana. It’s made with a chemical compound more potent … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants, Legislation, News

Democracy Doesn't Work

After a whirlwind past two weeks, I decided to only work a half-day today. I went to the gym in the afternoon and decided to mix things up and do some cardio in front of a few TVs. Bad idea. One TV was showing a news program about bullying. The news ticker said Obama was thinking about withholding federal education money from states that don’t enact tough anti-bullying laws. Bullying is apparently an “epidemic,” and we need new laws. The point and counter-point seemed to consist of whether we should pass really ridiculously tough laws or really, really ridiculously tough laws. Another TV was showing a program about people blinding aircraft pilots with lasers. Some federal legislator seems determined to make it a federal … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants

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