With so much talk about the legalization of recreational marijuana in California – it’s on the ballot for next week – it’s tempting to think that arrests for marijuana offenses are a thing of the past. Unfortunately, it seems likely law enforcement and prosecutors will be targeting marijuana growers, distributors and users up until the very last minute.
Recently, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced it raided a Canyon County strip mall, search warrant in hand, following an investigation sparked by a tip from a local citizen. At the site, investigators reportedly discovered an “elaborate” indoor marijuana cultivation system in several of the units. They also found an undetermined amount of money, plus nearly 2,500 plants in various stages of growth. There was also an additional 200 pounds of the finished product (in the form of dried marijuana buds) seized, as well as an estimated 50 pounds of edible, THC-infused products, such as suckers and cookies. Expensive air filtration systems were reportedly designed to help keep the odor from getting outside.
Although three men were detained at the scene, two were released. A third, a 28-year-old man from Los Angeles, was arrested for possession of marijuana for sales. The combined value of the plants is estimated to be approximately $6.2 million, while the combined value of the dried buds and edible products was approximately $500,000.
Recent data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation reveals that authorities made 643,000 marijuana arrests last year. That’s the lowest in two decades, but it still works out to one marijuana arrest every 49 seconds. The vast majority of these cases – 9 in 10 – do NOT involve elaborate grow operations like this one. Most are for mere possession offenses.
In 2011, California lawmakers decriminalized possessing tiny amounts of the drug to a minor infraction, on par with a parking citation. However, a recent study by the Drug Policy Alliance (an organization that is favorable to liberalization of marijuana laws) reveals, “It’s not legal yet.” California law enforcement agencies arrested some 500,000 people for marijuana possession between 2006 and 2015.
The report cited data from the state department of justice, which indicated that while misdemeanor marijuana arrests had fallen since the 2011 law change, thousands of people were still being arrested on misdemeanor marijuana charges every year in California – and felony marijuana arrests were up by thousands annually. Our L.A. marijuana defense lawyers know most of the misdemeanor marijuana arrests that are still being made regularly include:
- Possessing marijuana concentrates;
- Keeping quantities of marijuana greater than one ounce;
- Giving marijuana away to others.
The report additionally shows that black Californians were twice as likely to be arrested for misdemeanor marijuana offenses than their white counterparts. What’s more, they were five times more likely to be arrested for marijuana-related felonies. This is despite the fact that numerous studies have shown whites use and possess the drug at the same rates as their minority counterparts.
Proposition 64, the ballot measure that would allow for legalized recreational marijuana, would make both possession of concentrates as well as distributing small amounts of pot totally legal. Additionally, Californians would be able to grow up to six marijuana plants at home. Sales of these plants would be legalized and taxed in a way similar to how Colorado has structured it.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.
More Blog Entries:
California Marijuana Company Prevails After Police Raid, July 12, 2016, L.A. Marijuana Defense Attorney Blog