Articles Posted in Drug Offenses

Just a couple of days ago, a man was arrested and charged with serious felony counts on Massachusetts drug charges, in Lawrence District Court.  Except this case is rather unique.  You see, this defendant didn’t end up in handcuffs or court in the usual way:  Being arrested by the police.  He ended up in jail because his 11 year-old son called the police on his father – effectively, turning him in.

The boy the called Lawrence Massachusetts Police Department on his father, Yamil Mercado, after allegedly seeing his father deal drugs out of their home there.  Mercado reportedly surrendered to police last Thursday, one day after the boy called police to say that he and his 13-year-old cousin had found what they believed were drugs in the father’s luggage, according to a police report. The boy reportedly also told police that he’d witnesses his father in a drug deal just a day few days earlier. Continue reading

As a Massachusetts drug arrest defense lawyer, I never cease to be amazed at the resistance I see to the will of the voters on the subject of marijuana legalization, from both the federal government, as well as local government here in Massachusetts.  It really is stunning.  I say this as someone who is not a recreational user of marijuana, but as an attorney who has seen far too many people’s reputations and lives damaged due to criminal accusations connected with pot use.  Equally troubling is the massive amount of taxpayer dollars that are spent on police departments and prosecutors to prosecute use of a substance that almost always involves a victimless and harmless fact pattern.

I consider the source of the federal government’s resistance to be obvious:  Big Pharma, which does not want cannabis legalized for either medicinal or recreational use.  The smple reason?  They want the public to use their drugs – the FDA “approved” drugs – for relief from pain and a whole host of physical diseases and ailments – and cannabis has been shown to provide relief from a variety of illnesses, from Parkinson’s to ALS, to cancer treatments, to anxiety.  The pharmaceutical drug companies that make their “approved” drugs, make billions of dollars through the choke-hold they have on those drugs to treat these conditions.  And they don’t want to have to compete with cannabis, and lose billions in the process. Continue reading

I’ve written on this blog previously about the Massachusetts drug lab scandal, and I tweeted earlier this week about the latest , very significant development surrounding that scandal.

This colossal mess began almost 5 years ago, with the discovery that a Massachusetts drug lab chemist, Annie Dookhan, had spent years intentionally falsifying the lab tests that were submitted to the drug lab for content analysis for use by state prosecutors in drug cases.  The cases of  approximately 20,000 Massachusetts drug defendants and drug convicts were affected by her actions.  For several years now, state and court officials have grappled with what to do with these cases and convictions, which came to be called the “Dookhan defendants.” Continue reading

Well, as of midnight tonight, marijuana is finally legalized in Massachusetts.  Despite the dire predictions of tone-deaf politicians and law enforcement officials, despite the moral protestations of religious leaders including the Catholic church, the voters of Massachusetts saw through the smoke and mirrors (pardon the pun,) and approved what so many other states have already done:  Made possession of limited amounts of cannabis legal. Voters here had already decriminalized marijuana in 2008, and approved medical marijuana in 2012.  Reflecting the cluelessness of many of Beacon Hill, all three measures had to be approved by citizen ballot measures, as the legislature consistently refused to act. In a growing trend of sanity on this issue, Massachusetts voters joined voters in Maine, California, and Nevada on Nov. 8.  Colorado, Oregon, Washington State, Alaska, and the District of Columbia also voted to legalize marijuana in recent years. Continue reading

In my previous post on this topic, I wrote about how prosecutors in Massachusetts must prove that any allegedly illegal substances that the Commonwealth accuses a defendant of possessing, using, or distributing, have actually been tested by a qualified chemist in the state drug lab, and that the substance is indeed either a controlled substance or an illegal drug.   That’s the first, threshold legal issue in any Massachusetts drug offenses prosecution.  Continue reading

When what you do in your profession involves defending as legal counsel people who have been charged with some very serious crimes, a common question is “How can you defend people who have been accused of such serious crimes?”  My answer, as a Wrentham  Mass. criminal defense attorney, is always the same:  “Because they may be legally innocent.”

Drug crimes are an area that many people misunderstand – or perhaps more accurately, mis-context.  They often assume that anyone charged with a Massachusetts drug offense must be some kind of drug-crazed criminal, or the local version of something like a ‘drug lord.’  Hardly.  In fact, the truth is almost anything but this. Some examples?   Being found by police to be carrying a controlled substance without a prescription on your person.  This could happen while traveling through Logan Airport, or even if stopped in your car by police.   Or providing any of your prescription pain medication to another person because they were in pain and couldn’t locate or get an appointment with their own doctor right away.  Or selling or buying more than an ounce of marijuana to another (yes, pot.)  Or a student who gives some of his or her Ritalin prescription to a friend in advance of exams.  The list goes on and on.  As a Massachusetts drug charges lawyer, I can say with certainty that 85%-90% of my Massachusetts drug charges clients are definitely not dangerous drug criminals. Continue reading

No, the title of this post is not some Republican campaign slogan, and it’s not a joke, either.

Barack Obama’s Drug Enforcement administration (DEA) today issued its final decision that marijuana is to remain on the federal government’s list of the most highly dangerous and regulated drugs, the Associated Press reported today.   The decision followed a petition by the governors of Washington state and Rhode Island to reclassify pot into a far less severe category.  Note:  That petition by the governors of the above states was filed at the DEA in 2011 – yes, it has taken the DEA five years to arrive at not only any decision in this matter, but the most scientifically and socially unsupported decision possible.  This is your tax dollars at work: Stonewalling, inefficiency, foot dragging.

So why would the federal government take five years to reach this insulting and unsupportable decision?  Two words:  Politics and money – inseparable bedfellows.  You see, controlled substances (regulated drugs) are classified by the DEA into five different “schedules” – from the most dangerous drugs that the federal government has declared have no medicinal value (“Schedule 1”,) to the least dangerous drugs that the DEA has declared do have medicinal value (“Schedule 5”.)  Example:  Heroin is classified as a Schedule 1 drug.  Care to know where marijuana has been classified, for over 70 years?  Correct:  Schedule 1 – along with the likes of heroin – and extremely dangerous drug, with extremely high addiction potential.

In my previous post on this subject of ending drug violence, I talked about how black markets and the violent crime that flows from them are created by government prohibition .  This is what prohibition of any substance or material, causes.  If the federal government made drinking water illegal tomorrow, black markets and criminals that manipulate them would crop up overnight.  If milk – yes, milk, were for some reason made illegal, there would be criminals dealing milk – complete with controlling territories to distribute it.  Violent crime would be created, complete with gangs and turf wars.  Police would battle these gangs and murders and mayhem would follow.  Raids would be conducted, arrests would be made, defendants would be prosecuted, billions of dollars would be spent – and the crime bosses that controlled the production and distribution of water or milk would never be defeated.

I know may people just won’t believe this.  They think the best thing we can do, is just keep fighting and prosecuting Massachusetts drug crimes, and drug crimes all across the country.  My response is based on three different qualification levels:  1) As a Massachusetts drug crimes lawyer; 2) As someone who has a degree in Economics, and 3) As someone who is a student of history.  NO AMOUNT of government arrests and prosecution of drug criminals will EVER eliminate the presence of drug lords, drug dealers, drug users, or drug victims.  It is sociologically, politically, and legally impossible.  I refer you to one simple word:  Prohibition.  When the federal government illegalized alcohol in 1920 through the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a black market for all kinds of alcohol was created overnight.  It took less than a few weeks for major criminal enterprises to erupt, the most famous being led by Al Capone.  Thousands of murders were committed; violence in cities and towns across America erupted; tens of thousands of arrests were made.   Hundreds of millions of dollars (in 1930’s value) were spent battling it through police departments and court prosecutors, led by Elliot Ness and his “Untouchables.”  The end result?  Utter failure.  Finally, after 13 years and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars spent, the federal government woke up and ended prohibition in 1933, through the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment, which repealed the Eighteenth Amendment.  A massive waste.

If we legalized drugs that are illegal today, we would achieve two positive and immediate effects:  1) We would destroy the power, control, and the wealth that illegal drug organizations now control.  Whether drug lords in Colombia and Mexico, or drug dealers on the streets of our cities, they’d be out of business, overnight.  The violence and terrorism that surrounds drug use would cease.  2)  We could treat users of unhealthy and addictive drugs as health problems, not lock them up as criminals.  In the process, we would save billions of taxpayer dollars, make our communities safer places to live, and help addicts recover by putting them in clinics, not jails.  As a Norfolk County Massachusetts drug offenses lawyer with decades of experience handling Massachusetts drug cases, I can assure you this is so. For those who are still unconvinced, I suggest they visit this site:  Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a progressive organization of present and former police officers and other law enforcement officials, as well as former prosecutors, who agree:  Keeping drugs illegal only creates crime and keeps drug addicts hostage to their addictions.

Readers of this blog will notice that there has been quite a gap since my last  published post here, on March 17, about Massachusetts drug defendants no longer being subjected to having their Massachusetts drivers’ licenses suspended, for having a prior drug conviction.  The reasons for the gap in posts have been that several posts that had been published since March 17 have recently been taken down due to some technical errors.  My apologies, and so let’s get things back to current.

My post today has to do with a topic that my readers know well:  The utter, abysmal, pathetic and shameful failure that has been what politicians and government types have for over 50 years now called the “War on Drugs.”  Idealized in its infancy and first iterations, it sounded great, didn’t it?  The federal government, handing out billions of dollars to themselves and state & local police agencies, would arrest every single “drug user,” “drug dealer,” and anyone in between – all in the name of a “safer,” “healthier” society.  What did this “war” – which has cost taxpayers hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars (yes, that’s billions with a “b”,) ever produce?  Most prominently, it:

  • Funneled billions & billions of our taxpayer dollars into government and law enforcement payrolls, for DEA, ATF, and state & local police payrolls.

I’ve posted in this blog previously about how Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello introduced his own Department policy of not prosecuting addicts who come in to his police department with illegal drugs and/or drug paraphernalia, seeking medical treatment for their addiction.  I wrote of how sensible, humane, and long-past due this type of rational thinking is, and of how Chief Campanello’s approach should be emulated, not only across Massachusetts, but across the United States.

Well, it seems that this hope, may become a reality.  Through legislation recently filed by Gloucester state Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante, persons who appear at any Massachusetts police department, seeking medical treatment for a drug addiction, would not be criminal charged or prosecuted for a Massachusetts drug offense – so long as that person is acting in good faith.  Addicts seeking help with recovery could turn in unwanted heroin and other drugs, without fear of criminal prosecution. Continue reading