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COA rules on first impression possession of marijuana issue

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A woman’s objection over how much marijuana was being attributed to her led the Indiana Court of Appeals to apply for the first time Supreme Court precedent regarding possession of marijuana.

In Samantha Adams v. State of Indiana, No. 49A05-1107-CR-372, Samantha Adams appealed the denial of her motion to dismiss Class D felonies dealing in marijuana and possession of marijuana. Both charges were enhanced from Class A misdemeanors due to the weight of the drug involved. Adams claimed that the dried weight of the drug should have been around 17 grams instead of 69 grams. More than 30 grams leads to enhanced charges.

Adams disagreed with how the plants were weighed. The forensic scientist with the Indianapolis/Marion County Forensics Services Agency cut off the “mature stalks” of the plants – which would be the roots and stalk up to the first branch of each plant – and weighed the remaining leaves, immature stalks and stems together.  

On interlocutory appeal, Adams argued her due process rights were violated because Indiana Code doesn’t clearly state which parts of the plant are excluded from the legal definition of marijuana. The statute doesn’t define what “mature stalks” are, but does say that those are not included in the definition of marijuana. Adams introduced evidence that the Indiana State Police Lab sometimes excludes the entire stalk in its calculations of weight, and if that was done in her case, the weight would have been less than 30 grams.

The appellate court relied on Lawhorn v. State, 452 N.E.2d 915, 917 (1983), in which the Supreme Court, in looking at the cocaine dealing statutes, held that adulterated and not just pure forms of the drug could be used to support an enhancement.

The Court of Appeals had previously applied this decision to marijuana dealing and held that the issue of identifying mature stalks is irrelevant because it’s clear that the sentence enhancement may be supported by an adulterated form of marijuana, which includes “other vegetable matter” not included within the definition of marijuana, wrote Judge Patricia Riley.

But the judges had not yet addressed Lawhorn’s application to the provisions regarding possession of marijuana. The General Assembly has amended Indiana Code 35-48-4-11 to include “pure or adulterated” marijuana when defining the Class A misdemeanor, but did not include “pure or adulterated” when discussing the enhancement.

The judges concluded that the marijuana referred to in the enhancement can only refer to the “pure or adulterated” drug mentioned in the preceding sentence in the statute. They found the statute to not be vague or unconstitutional and affirmed the denial of Adams’s motion to dismiss.  

 

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  1. "So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)" Well, you know, we're just following in the footsteps of our founders who raped women, raped slaves, raped children, maimed immigrants, sold children, stole property, broke promises, broke apart families, killed natives... You know, good God fearing down home Christian folk! :/

  2. Who gives a rats behind about all the fluffy ranking nonsense. What students having to pay off debt need to know is that all schools aren't created equal and students from many schools don't have a snowball's chance of getting a decent paying job straight out of law school. Their lowly ranked lawschool won't tell them that though. When schools start honestly (accurately) reporting *those numbers, things will get interesting real quick, and the looks on student's faces will be priceless!

  3. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

  4. Unfortunately, the court doesn't understand the difference between ebidta and adjusted ebidta as they clearly got the ruling wrong based on their misunderstanding

  5. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

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