Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Recreational Marijuana Sales in Washington - What Does it Mean to a Boise Criminal Lawyer

Marijuana Legalization - A View from a Boise Criminal Attorney

Like it or not, marijuana is legally for sale for recreational purposes in Washington beginning today.  Gone is the need for the medical marijuana card.  Gone is the need for the note from the doctor that shows the state that you have chronic pain and therefore qualify for medical marijuana.

Recreational pot use is good news for some.  However, many don't like it. Medical marijuana users, for example, are angry.  They no longer are in a "special" category.  Sure, they can buy pot without the doctor's note but the fact that so can everybody else makes them uneasy about supply.  The state of Washington has limited the amount of pot you can buy per day to 1 gram.  In part that limit is to curb use, but it also reflects that there technically could be a shortage.  The price also reflects that demand is high and supply is low. Others are angry because they still consider marijuana a gateway drug despite the fact that the number of "only" marijuana users (those who don't use any other elicit drugs) has "officially" risen to 38%.  This number increases greatly when you look at the 18-35 year old demographic.  It is not uncommon to hear about "Mommy's for Pot Legalization" or Friends and neighbors who swap babysitting so that the parents can get high without the kids around.  They in turn watch their friends' kids to return the favor.  What I am trying to say is that pot use is becoming common place whether it is labeled gateway drug or not, and it is being legalized whether anyone likes it or not.

Legalized Marijuana Possession - Effect in Idaho

What does legalized recreational pot mean for an Idaho Criminal Attorney?  In reality it may not mean anything different than what medical marijuana has.  Or, it may mean that with greater availability and access more people will feel more comfortable crossing the border, buying pot and returning to Idaho with it.  A user/client I have spoken to recently confessed that he would prefer to drive to Washington, buy the pot legally and return to Idaho illegally with it rather than buy the hooch on the streets, even though right now, street pot is less expensive.

Another consideration for a Boise Criminal Lawyer is sales within Idaho and what that does to an uptick in possession charges as well as drug trafficking charges.  Although the law in Washington states that you can only purchase 1 gram of pot per day, there is not tracking software in place.  While this seems ironic because the legalization of marijuana in Washington is heavily monitored, there is nothing to stop someone from shopping at different stores and stock piling pot.  Although it is currently expensive, one could foresee once supply has increased and the price decreases, stock piling of marijuana could be an entrepreneur's dream come true.

Quickly, another consideration; this time from Boise DUI Lawyers.  I always feel it is important to remind people that possession of marijuana, intent to deliver or possession of paraphernalia are not the only charges they need to be concerned about when it comes to marijuana use and possession.  The Idaho Code includes in the offense of DUI, being under the influence of drugs.  If you are stoned and operating a motor vehicle you can be charged with a DUI. It is distinctly possible that there may be more DUI charges in Idaho as a result of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington.  That, however, remains to be seen.

And one final consideration from the perspective of a Boise Divorce Attorney;  Often in divorce cases there are allegations of drug use.  These are used control or eliminate visitation rights.  For example, if one party claims there is drug use in the other party's home, a judge may order a pee test or a hair follicle test.  If they turn up positive the judge has grounds to suspend, reduce or otherwise alter the party's visitation rights.  But what happens if you visit, live, work or in Washington and while in Washington you use marijuana legally? Can the court penalize you if you didn't break any laws?  Will providing the court proof that you were in Washington change the outcome of a family law judge's decision in Idaho?  These are questions which remain to be seen.  It seems that legalized recreational pot use may not only affect criminal law but will also have an affect upon divorce law.

Can You Legally Possess and Use Pot in Idaho?

As a Boise Criminal Attorney I have gotten a few calls from folks wondering about legalized marijuana. They want to know, "if it is legal in Washington and I buy it there, isn't it then legal in Idaho?"  And the answer is "no".  Marijuana possession and use still remains illegal in Idaho.

Again, this is a case of like it or not.  All sorts of Constitutional Lawyers can debate the full faith and credit laws and get no where.  A judge in Idaho won't even consider a person with a medical marijuana card in possession of pot in Idaho a valid defense.  Federal law, in fact, still states that possession of marijuana is a crime even in Washington.  Suffice it to say this topic goes deeply into states' rights v. federal laws which I will save for another day.

If you need a Boise Criminal Lawyer or a Boise DUI Attorney, give us a call (208) 472-2383, and see what we can do for you.


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