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Challenging claims that the defendant is the source of an incriminating email

May 18, 2015 Challenging claims that the defendant is the source of an incriminating email

Police and prosecutors routinely have a knee-jerk claim that a few ounces of marijuana coupled with a few thousand dollars amounts to intent to distribute the marijuana.

Let us say that police lawfully stop a suspect’s car, lawfully find two ounces of marijuana and a few thousand dollars in the car, lawfully get the driver’s admission that the marijuana and money are his, and obtain no other incriminating evidence. A good argument can be made that reasonable doubt exists whether the defendant feloniously possessed the marijuana with intent to distribute it, versus only being guilty of misdemeanor pot possession.

Particularly if the marijuana use was for medicinal purposes, possessing two ounces of marijuana can be particularly compelling as representing no more than one to two months of daily medicine. Medicinal marijuana users want a reliable supply of quality marijuana as medicine with their preferred percentage blend of cannabis sativa to cannabis indicia. Even if the marijuana is not being smoked medicinally, a regular user easily can smoke at least two grams of marijuana daily, which can easily use up two ounces of marijuana within a month.

Thanks to marijuana cultivation expert Chris Conrad for illustrating how small two ounces of marijuana (for instance) really is, through his Cannabis Yields and Dosages study (free here).

Having several thousands of dollars together with marijuana does not establish a connection between the two. Five thousand dollars, for instance, is no long nearly worth what it was worth even ten years ago. That five thousand dollars might easily pay for the first month’s rent and security deposit on plenty on plenty of two-bedroom apartments in the District of Columbia metropolitan area, where plenty of vendors and service providers reject checks for such important payments, to avoid the checks bouncing like rubber ball.

In the foregoing scenario, a prosecutor is free to try to argue until he is blue in the face that the quantity of marijuana coupled with the cash is enough to prove intent to distribute. A good criminal defense lawyer will be able to underscore to the jury or judge the absence of such indicia of intent to distribute as materials to package smaller marijuana quantities, a high market price to purchase the two ounces, scales, records of marijuana purchases and sales, and text messages and other communications between the suspect and suspected marijuana customers of the suspect.

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