Month: May 2018

The view on cannabis, commonly known as marijuana, is starting to shift as the laws are changing. In 2015, cannabis with specific guidelines was legalized in Washington DC. Medical marijuana was used and prescribed in DC for years before it was legalized for recreational use. The laws around medical marijuana in the District of Columbia has not changed since cannabis has been legalized for recreational use, so individuals with a medical marijuana card, still cannot use their medical marijuana in public. The difference between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana is important because it sets the guidelines for the purpose of marijuana usage.

Laws Governing Marijuana Possession in DC

Attorneys at Bruckheim & Patel are extremely knowledgeable in the laws governing marijuana possession in DC. In the District of Columbia, if one is over the age of 21, then it is legal to possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis. One can own up to six mature cannabis plants and can own up to six other plants that have not reached maturity. The penalty for violating the amount of cannabis one can grow or possess is a misdemeanor charge carrying a punishment up to 6 months incarceration and up to $1,000 fine. If an individual has a medical marijuana card, then one can possess over 2 ounces if cannabis because it has been prescribed by a doctor.

One can distribute cannabis up to 6 plants or up to 2 ounces to others over the age of 21, but no payment can be given for said cannabis. In other words, it can be a gift, but if there is any form of payment or exchange, then it is a crime. If one gives under 6 plants or under 2 ounces of cannabis to an individual under the age of 21, then it counts as a charge of distributing to a minor. If one is caught distributing less than a ½ pound of cannabis for profit and it is their first offense, one can be punished with a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail. For any subsequent offense, one could face up to 2 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If the amount of cannabis is over a ½ pound, then one could face up to 5 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Legalizing Marijuana in Washington DC

Washington DC is a special case when it comes to legalizing marijuana because cannabis still has not been legalized at a federal level. This means that federal law enforcement can still arrest an individual for using cannabis on federal land, such as the national mall. It is important to know exactly what kind of land one is on when consuming cannabis in public because one could end up being arrested and face charges because of where they were when consuming cannabis.

If you are charged with possession of marijuana or distribution of marijuana, it is important to contact an attorney that is knowledgeable in the laws in the District of Columbia to defend your case. Contact our attorneys at Bruckheim & Patel for a free confidential evaluation.

In Washington D.C., trespassing is defined as a situation when one is on property without the authorization or consent of the property owner or acting owner. Trespassing is not the most serious crime and many people, especially since first time offenders are eligible for the “stet docket.” A stet docket is when the government contracts with the defendant indicating that they will suspend prosecution for a set period of time in which the defendant cannot get in any trouble and must live within the law. If they abide by the conditions set forth, then the case will be dismissed. This is a way for the justice system to make sure it is not criminalizing minor mistakes that can cause an unnecessary ripple effect, negatively impacting someone’s whole life. If a stet docket is not used, then the defendant does proceed through the court system and has the potential of being fined up to $1,000 or spending 180 days in jail in the District of Columbia.

Last week in Philadelphia, two men were arrested to trespassing in a Starbucks. The men had not purchased anything and were asked to leave by a Starbucks employee, as is custom at Starbucks when someone does not intend of making a purchase. The two men explained that they were waiting for a friend, who would purchase something, but the employee proceeded to call the police and report the men for trespassing. The police arrived, arrested the two men and walked them out as their friend arrived.

The reason that this incident has made national news is that these two men were African-American and there are suspicions that the reason the employee did not believe that their friend was meeting them and decided to report them to the police was due to their skin color. The CEO of Starbucks, Kevin Johnson, has profusely apologized for the incident. Johnson has explained that Starbucks is “firmly against discrimination or racial profiling” and that the company’s “practices and training led to a bad outcome.” It is clear that the problem has been recognized and is attempted at being addressed.

Ultimately, Starbucks does have the right to ask people to leave if they are not paying customers, but if it is treating certain people different ways due to their skin color, then they have employees that hold racist views in implementing the policies. The procedure set by Starbucks is fair, but how it is being implemented, specifically in this situation, is not equal. This issue needs to be addressed and re-evaluated by all Starbucks stores across the country.

There is some outrage directed towards the police after they arrested the two men, but we cannot have the police deciding whom they should or should not arrest when looking at the situation because then the laws protecting equality will be put at an even greater risk. In this situation, the police did follow protocol when arresting the men who were reported by an employee for trespassing. It is important to remain focused on the issue at hand, which is the use of the law to carry out a discriminatory act. Even though trespassing is not a major crime and does not usually carry great punishment, it still greatly affects an individual’s life, so it is crucial that people do not use the law to carry out personal discriminatory beliefs and get away with it.

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