When I was a prosecutor, I prosecuted a number of persons for possession and use of marijuana in California. I have read the literature where it is alleged marijuana leads to use of heroin, methamphetamines, and cocaine. When prosecuting those cases I never seriously pondered whether those assertions were true or not. I didnât make the laws. I enforced them, whether I agreed with them or not.
My view of possession and use of marijuana abruptly changed some years ago. I took take a case defending a young woman for transporting five pounds of marijuana along Interstate Highway 5 in California. The Highway Patrolman jailed her and the District Attorney charged her with Transportation of Marijuana, a felony, for which she was almost certainly going to receive a sentence to state prison, if convicted.
She told me her mother needed the marijuana, for medical reasons. She was morbidly obese. The marijuana alleviated the physical pains she endured because of her obesity. The girl and her mother lived in Sacramento. The mother had learned a seller, in Redding, California, had five pounds of pot for sale at a bargain price. She sent her daughter to Redding to make the purchase. She was returning to Sacramento when the patrol officer made the stop, searched the car, discovering the contraband.
I listened to the girl hoping to identify a legal defense to the charge against her. I heard none, and began to question her about the event of the stop and search, seeking to determine whether there were grounds to suppress the evidence based on the stop, search and seizure. There was no viable legal basis for suppression of the marijuana. In fact, she had readily admitted to the officer why and how she obtained the marijuana.
The girl had no prior criminal record. She was still shy of her 21st birthday. There was no known evidence she had ever been engaged in any way with drugs or narcotics, except for this one event.
The day arrived for the girlâs preliminary hearing in Municipal Court, at which hearings are held for the judge to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to hold her to answer to the charges in Superior Court.
As I walked up the sidewalk to the Courtâs entrance, I saw two women approaching. One was huge in size accompanied by another normal sized woman who had driven her to Colusa, California, the site of the hearing. The rotund mother was walking very slowly, in small, measured steps, with a cane, assisted by the other lady. It was very clear the mother was having a difficult time, short of breath, and in obvious pain by merely walking. I knew immediately she was the mother of my client.
After the preliminary hearing, I took the opportunity to speak with the mother. She confirmed everything my client had told me about why my client was carrying the marijuana on the public highway. The distraught mother was agonized because of the position she had placed the daughter. She was only trying to help her mother.
California did not have a medical marijuana law at the time.
It was during the course of that case I came to realize that marijuana had a significant use in alleviating pain and suffering in human beings, and should be allowed for that medical purpose.
I had long been aware that alcohol abuse was a much bigger societal problem than marijuana, and much more dangerous to the public.
I am also aware that the use of marijuana, particularly for medical reasons, has become increasingly acceptable among the populace.
Last week I read Joe Richardsâ opinion piece in the Pahrump Mirror in which he addressed the topic. We need to reconsider the marijuana issue!! He is right. Not only should marijuana be legalized and regulated for medical use, it would go a long way, if not all the way, toward solving Nevadaâs and Nye Countyâs fiscal problems. It does not make sense to persist in continuing marijuana as a contraband, when smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol, are legal.
Think of it. Nevada might be able to continue with no income tax, and eliminate or reduce the property taxes.
Those of the Libertarian and Tea Party persuasion ought to find the prospect of smaller government and lower taxes intriguing.
By the way, the daughter wound up with a sentence to jail rather than prison.