Two days ago at about 10:30 in the morning two women were walking past a home in Lowell, Massachusetts when they noticed smoke coming from a roof. Firefighters were called and quickly surmised that the fire was coming from a wood burning stove. While at the scene the firefighters smelled an odor of marijuana. Consequently they called the Lowell Police. A Search Warrant was obtained. During the execution of the search warrant the police found evidence of what they have called a large-scale marijuana. Specifically, the police observed and seized twenty-nine marijuana plants and forty four pounds of packaged marijuana. They also found grow lights, a water filtration system and three thousand five hundred dollars cash, all Drug Paraphernalia indicative of an intent to distribute. The owner of the home, Angel Luna was charged with Distribution of Marijuana, a Class D Substance, a School Zone Violation and Trafficking Marijuana. Bail was set at three thousand dollars cash. Luna’s defense attorney argued that the total weight of the marijuana when accurately calculated will be less than fifty pounds which is under the weight necessary to sustain a Marijuana Trafficking Prosecution in Massachusetts. The case is currently being prosecuted in the Lowell District Court.
Trafficking Marijuana in Massachusetts is a felony in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 94C Section 32E. The law states that anyone who trafficks in marijuana an amount of at least fifty pounds but less than one hundred pounds must serve at least one year in the house of correction. This is a minimum mandatory sentence. There is a maximum penalty of fifteen years in state prison.
One troubling aspect of this statute states that the substance trafficked does not have to be pure or have any degree of purity. Thus, the plants will be weighed individually and tallied with the packaged substance. The defense attorney’s suggestion in this case is that a portion of this substance was for medicinal purposes and not for distribution. While the argument is perhaps legitimate Massachusetts does not have a medicinal marijuana law. Right now, only sixteen states have this type of law, those being Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. The District of Columbia has a similar law as well. Right now six states have medicinal marijuana laws pending before their legislature. Massachusetts is one of them. If the law passes and has a retroactive application then Luna might be able to avail himself of its provisions insofar as the plants are concerned. Of course, all of this assumes that the number of plants residents are permitted to grow falls within the facts of this case. But at least for now, if the total quantity of marijuana in this case exceeds fifty pounds Luna’s defense will have to focus on his intent and show a jury that at least the plants were for his own personal use due to certain medical problems.
The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman defends people accused of committing crimes. We are based in Massachusetts however we defend people if courts throughout the country. If you are in trouble you need a lawyer. We can be reached at 617-263-6800. You can also email us with any questions. We want to defend you and the time to start is now.