California Protects Their Pot

A California lawmaker is trying to protect the state's marijuana industry by barring law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal drug agencies on pot busts.

Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, proposed that California would become a so-called sanctuary pot state. It was sparked when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a federal policy shift on enforcement of marijuana laws.
Jones-Sawyer said that the Assembly Bill 1578 is to provide state agencies with protection to uphold state laws without federal interference.

It would prevent local and state law enforcement agencies from assisting federal authorities on marijuana activities that are legal under California law, without a court order. It would also bar state agencies from providing the federal government with information on licensed marijuana growers and retailers.

This is the second time this bill is going through the Legislature. The Assembly narrowly approved it, but it never made it to a vote in the Senate.

Comments from Allen:

Good luck, California.  This is a bit of political showboating.

Those who wish to traffic in "legal" marijuana sales will be marketing their goods online, in phone books, and with big, fat signs outside their places of business identifying them as places in which marijuana is sold.  Anyone will less than half a brain will be able to find these places that sell pot.

Having recently been in Eugene, Oregon, and Vail, Colorado, I can tell you that pot merchants in states which have "legalized" marijuana do not hide.  They want to sell a lot of pot.  They want to sell pot munchies and every kind of smoking device known to man.  They will not be hard to find.

I would guess that if the Justice Department decides to swoop down on California and bust pot sellers in federal court, where they will be facing pot-tential sentences of life in prison, they will not require the assistance of local law unenforcement authorities.

Frankly, I understand states wanting to take the lead in decriminalizing marijuana.  Around the country, the laws of the states vary widely from no possession allowed, to medical marijuana possession allowed, to smoke-em-if-ya-got-em.  Even in states like Idaho, which has not legalized pot, possession of one joint in Boise gets you a fine, and possession in Idaho Falls can get you thrown in jail for a minimum of 5-10 days.

Additionally, federal prosecutions for trafficking in marijuana (sellling large amounts) will result in substantial prison terms.  I have asked federal prosecutors how they can justify busting people in one state that has not legalized pot and sending them to prison, which turning a blind eye to those in Oregon and Colorado who sell massive quantities out in the open?  "Department policy" has been the response.  It has been a conscious choice of the Justice Department to ignore prosecutions for violation of federal anti-marijuana laws.

Therefore, since we have federal laws that prohibit these sales, and we have the US government prosecuting people in one state and sending them to prison for engaging in the same conduct as others who are not prosecuted in adjoining states, one of two things must happen:  either Congress changes the federal drug laws to de-list marijuana as a drug that carries a prison sentence for possession or sale, or the feds prosecute violators in every state equally.

Since Congress has not de-criminalized marijuana possession and sales, the Justice Department really has no choice but to prosecute these cases equally.

That actually does not mean they have to prosecute them at all.  They could exercise their discretion and decide to prosecute other kinds of cases.  I expect a lot of fireworks (where there is pot smoke, there will be fireworks) on this front this coming year.  Stay tuned.


Allen Browning is an attorney in Idaho Falls, Idaho who handles personal injury and criminal defense. He has over 30 years of experience and handled thousands of cases. Allen handles cases from all over Idaho. Call (208) 542-2700 to set up a free consultation if you are facing legal trouble or you have been involved in an accident.

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