Ever want to ask a cop a question but too afraid to do so? Us too! Luckily, LEAP’s Diane Goldstein was available to answer some questions without any further “probable cause.”

Is it true that medical marijuana patients should not be gun owners? I heard that if a cop comes into your house and finds weed and guns you are in big trouble.

Let me scream “Yes” as loud as I can. Do I have your attention? Guns, any narcotics, and the police are not a good mixture. Currently, because of the absurd status of medical marijuana as a Federally Schedule 1 controlled substance the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), yeah those guys of ‘fast and furious’ shame, issued a policy directive to all licensed gun stores under section 11(e) of the federal Firearms Transaction Record, which asks gun buyers whether he or she is “an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug or any other controlled substance.”
This memo was issued in September 2011 and advised federal firearms licensees, that there “are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if it is sanctioned by state law.”  So if you are a qualified medical marijuana patient in California under the compassionate use act and you buy a guy, you are doing so under penalty of perjury and open yourself up to a federal prosecution.

At the federal level there is a mandatory 5 year enhancement for simply possessing any type of weapon during the commission of a drug offense and the feds use this enhancement to stack charges and obtain convictions at about a 90% rate. 

A recent example of the criminal prosecution of the Kettle Fall’s 5 in Washington where the defendant that were stat-compliant medical marijuana patients and cultivators where charge with drug trafficking and the catch all charges of maintaining a drug-involved premises, and possession of firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The guns on the premise were simply used for hunting and protection from wild animals. The good news for the defendants in this case is the jury dismissed the gun charges and saw it as an abuse of prosecutorial power.

But there is good news on the horizon on the federal level there is increasing bipartisan support to protect medical marijuana patients including those that may want to own guns as seen by an amendment that was submitted by Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.), to a Senate budgetary bill would have banned the ATF from using its funds to criminalize the possession of firearms by medical marijuana patients in those states that legalized medical marijuana.

Not that it went anywhere but we are seeing a sweeping change in the attitudes of our politicians at the state and federal level that recognizes that our archaic drug laws can be used to subvert all our constitutional rights, not just the second amendment.

How much of the police’s budget is targeted at marijuana? I would think if marijuana was legal, they would do a better job with everything else. I am for legalization.
Deciphering police budgets can give even the best accountants migraine headaches. Unless the unit is specifically assigned to only do marijuana investigations it can be very difficult to determine the actual costs. But because of the body of drug policy work we have some aggregate costs that have been predicted as well as actually seeing how Colorado benefitted. According to Dr. Jeffrey Miron, an economist from Harvard University and a researcher that has literally counted the cost of drug prohibition estimated in 2010 (Numbers are based on 2008 dollars) that legalizing marijuana would save $13.8 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of marijuana prohibition. $10.4 billion of this savings would accrue to state and local governments, while $3.4 billion would accrue to the federal government. Oh and in California it would save us $1.9 billion on all criminal justice costs if marijuana was controlled, taxed and regulated. As for Colorado they are laughing all the way to the bank with updated tax revenues f rom the adult consumption legal retail sales in excess of $52 million excluding the medical marijuana market.

And yes your supposition is correct.  We would use police resources more effectively if we didn’t waste our time on low value marijuana investigations and arrests.  

If I get arrested for marijuana possession but have a doctor’s recommendation and the doctor wont show up to my hearing, what are my options? I know some shady doctor offices that don’t help out when people are in need.
No snark intended, but find a new doctor.  You have asked a question that there is no simple answer to without spending money for an attorney to represent you in court and to force the doctor to show up through a subpoena process. A way to prevent this from occurring is to do your due diligence in searching for a medical provider upfront that is not a prescription mill storefront or hack.

I see marijuana fashion all over the place. Girls wearing tank tops with leaves on them — I even see marijuana inspired clothing at Urban Outfitters. Can the cops stop you if you’re wearing this stuff? It seems like just a fashion thing to me.
I would like to state unequivocally no, but the reality is that some law enforcement officers use narcotics inspired clothing to illegally profile people in my opinion. For example in Michigan last year at the Annual Michigan Traffic Safety Summit officers received training that focused on brand clothing including Aperture, DGK clothing, Seedless and SRH. As rightly noted in the blistering comments, this is profiling and the drug war at its worst and it really exemplifies how prohibition conflicts with our constitutional rights.

If I get pulled over and the cops think I am impaired with the effects of marijuana, is there a test they can give me proves I am too high to drive?
Lets start with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse have both stated that marijuana impairment testing via blood sampling is unreliable as it is unable to accurately measure marijuana impairment. Currently there is no reliable roadside test that measures impairment though there is a Canadian police officer that designed a device called Cannabix that may be able to detect if someone has smoke cannabis in the past 2 hours. According to their website “Cannabix is working to develop a drug-testing device that will detect…THC” which we all know is the psychoactive component of marijuana.

But before getting all potted up and driving remember that law enforcement has been arresting those that drive under the influence of alcohol and any drug for years. But they are based on a combination of driving patterns, objective symptoms of intoxication, the application of roadside field sobriety test as well as a blood or Breathalyzer test. Its is the officers expert opinion that is based on a combination of all these factors that will lead go an arrest.

So my mom side is coming out, please use any intoxicant or medicine responsibly and don’t drive while you are under the influence. California laws are incredibly punitive and may result in anything from fines, jail time to prison depending on if you injure or kill someone. There is no excuse for endangering yourself or others with the ability to access Uber or other transportation to get you safely from point A to point B.

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