Home » Blog » Drugs » At NoVa NORML – Discussing Police, Weed and You – Your Liberty in the Balance

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has a special place in my heart. In rapid succession, I went from working at a small Washington, D.C., corporate law firm, to subscribing in 1990 to High Times magazine in protest over a federal prosecutor’s subpoena of its advertiser records (as reported in Index on Censorship), to meeting and thereafter breaking bread with NORML’s then-National Director Don Fiedler, to becoming a criminal defense lawyer in 1991 with the Maryland Public Defender’s Office after Don advised avenues for switching to criminal defense.

Regardless of any infighting among marijuana activists, that does not change the contagious optimism I experienced from meeting  such crusaders for cannabis justice as the colorful Jack Herer and Lone Reefer; and Ed Rosenthal, as well as NORML founder Keith Stroup (whom I have known for a quarter century), federal medical marijuana recipient Elvy Musikka, comedian Paul Krassner at the 1990 NORML conference, and marijuana cultivation expert Chris Conrad, who has served as an expert in several of my marijuana cultivation defenses.

With that backdrop, it always is all the more an honor when a NORML chapter invites me to speak at one of their gatherings. My most recent such speaking engagement was at the Northern Virginia NORML’s August 9 meeting in Arlington, Virginia. There, my talk on marijuana reform and protecting one’s rights as a criminal suspect, was interwoven with a great discussion among attendees about their dealings with police and the courts, including one gentleman who said police once stopped his car being driven by his daughter, with the police officer saying that her moving violation was thanks to her father’s pro-pot bumper sticker. The cop must never have heard about the First Amendment.

I entitled my talk Police, Weed and You- Your Liberty in the Balance. While I await from my website host the updated code for uploading files to the Internet, my proposed outline for this discussion is below:


August 9, 2016


Police, weed, and you

How often do you get a chance to ask a lawyer questions for free? Of course, remember that others are hearing your questions.

Northern Virginia criminal defense lawyer Jon Katz has been continuously defending against marijuana and other drug prosecutions since 1991, moving from corporate law to people’s law. For this session, please feel free to add to the discussion as it is happening, and to say what topics are important for you to discuss.

Items of possible interest for discussion may include:

Reform: When and how will Virginia catch up with Maryland and DC? Chances for medical marijuana in VA, even for hash oil?

Legal issues:

  • Virginia has no reciprocity with Maryland’s and DC’s more liberal laws on possession and medical marijuana.
  • Look before you leap into 251/”diversion” land.
  • Risks of drug and paraphernalia convictions and guilty findings for work, security clearance, military, and immigration (in the U.S. and abroad)
  • Driving under the influence
  • Marijuana odor as a gateway to a warrantless search
  • Drug testing at work, school and beyond
  • Field testing versus lab testing. Challenging the field test on two levels.
  • When marijuana defendants make themselves easy pickings for police like spawning salmon for bears.
  • Asserting Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
  • Asserting Fourth Amendment right to refuse searches.
  • Police dividing and conquering among suspects and against one’s time clock.
  • A walk through procedures from start to finish in a drug prosecution.