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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. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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