Don’t go directly to jail

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

Do people still go to jail for weed?


Yep. Constantly. All the time. You can even go to jail for weed when you don’t have any weed.

William David Bush of Sebastopol, Calif., was sentenced to four years in jail for allegedly selling marijuana in October. He was originally pulled over for speeding, and it turned out he was driving on a suspended license. The cops searched his car because they said it smelled like pot, and they found $47,000 in cash and written details of transactions.

No one should go to jail for weed. That being said, weed is still illegal in California, and Bush broke one of the basic rules of being an outlaw: Only break one law at a time. If you have $47,000 in cash and a written record of transactions, don’t speed while your license is suspended.

In Butte County, Daisy Bram was convicted last year on misdemeanor child endangerment and felony marijuana cultivation and sales. Bram says the judge denied her medical-marijuana defense. When I wrote about this case last December (see “Custody and pot”; SN&R The 420; December 20, 2012), I received an email from Jeff Greeson, the prosecuting attorney. This is what he said:

“The criminal child abuse charges against Ms. Bram were based on an unsafe home due to broken Pyrex dishes and razor blades coated with hash extracted with alcohol, syringes with Xanax residue available to the older child, a ’Twister’ high-volume bud trimmer located in an area accessible by the older child, marijuana bud located in multiple locations where the older child could reach, generator cables running through water puddles in the back yard near piles of toys, and text messages on Jayme Walsh’s [Bram’s husband] phone arranging marijuana sales with people in Pennsylvania.”

Greeson also elaborated on standard legal and social-services practices: “Law enforcement in Butte County logs hundreds of contacts with medical marijuana users per month. The vast majority of those contacts result in no law enforcement or social services action whatsoever. Most of the people in this county that participate in activity sanctioned by Proposition 215 have a good relationship with law enforcement,” Greeson wrote. “As long as the marijuana is unavailable to children, is possessed in quantities consistent with personal use, and there is no evidence of sales to other people (this includes dispensaries in other counties,) local law enforcement has no interest in their marijuana use.”

I don’t know why he cares if patients in one county want to be reimbursed for giving weed to patients in other counties (Proposition 215 allows patients to be reimbursed for giving other patients marijuana), but his other points are well-taken. If you have children around your grow, keep the area clean, neat and safe. I know some people don’t think children should be anywhere near a pot plant, but I also know that marijuana is often a family business, like growing wine grapes. We need to change the laws, so that no one ever has to go to jail for pot.