It’s hard to argue that your marijuana joint is for personal or medicinal use when it’s 4 feet long and weighs more than 2 pounds.
Our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers have learned that a 25-year-old student was arrested at UC Santa Cruz in just such circumstances. He was reportedly one of the many revelers at the annual 4/20 rally held on campus.
Hundreds of students gather there on April 20 each year and smoke marijuana. Similar rallies are held at schools in Colorado, Washington and in other states where the drug is legal for medicinal purposes.
April 20 has been celebrated by marijuana smokers since the early 1990s. Back in the 1970s in Northern California, a local police department used “420” as code for “marijuana smoking in progress.” When a few high school students learned of this code, they began using it themselves.
It didn’t become popular though until a Grateful Dead concert until 1990, when a flyer was distributed saying that a group of fans would be meeting at “4:20 p.m. on 4/20 for 420-ing.” The reference was then published by a reporter for High Times. It caught on from there.
Inevitably, the 4/20 gatherings that continue on campuses across the country attract a strong police presence. These students and participants are easy targets, as far as law enforcement is concerned.
In the state of California, possession of 28.5 grams of marijuana or less without a prescription is deemed a for personal and is a non-criminal infraction. That means it carries no jail time, but it is accompanied by a $100 fine.
There are, however, two exceptions to this rule:
- If the individual is over the age of 18 and the incident occurred on school grounds, it carries a possible 10-day incarceration and a $500 fine.
- If the individual is under the age of 18, the incident is punishable by up to 10 days of incarceration, but the fine is just $250.
- Personal possession of more than 28.5 grams is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.
The incident in Santa Cruz would probably qualify as personal possession of more than 28.5 grams, though we would not be surprised if authorities charged the defendant with a felony for possession with intent to distribute. It doesn’t matter if the individual had intended to actually sell his gigantic joint. “Distribute” can mean to furnish or give away. This crime would be punishable by between 16 months and three years in prison.
If that distribution, sale or delivery involved anyone under the age of 17, the punishment is automatically boosted to a minimum 3 years, with a maximum of 7 years.
Usually, police crackdowns in these cases lead to minor possession charges or simple confiscation of marijuana paraphernalia and small amounts of personal use.
Officers in this case were booed by the crowd as they hauled off the suspect in handcuffs as he argued that he was being harassed.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Giant marijuana joint, UC Santa Cruz student hauled away, April 24, 2013, By Hector Becerra, The Los Angeles Times
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