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Visalia Criminal Law Blog

Los Angeles approves recreational marijuana

On Dec. 6, the Los Angeles City Council voted to allow the sale, cultivation and use of recreational marijuana within city limits. The move makes L.A., which has a population of 4 million people, the largest U.S. city to approve such measures. The new rules are set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

The approved regulations stipulate where marijuana can be grown and sold. For example, shops would not be allowed in most residential neighborhoods, and marijuana sales would not be allowed within a certain distance of schools, libraries and parks. The council also outlined the way new pot businesses will be licensed. According to the rules, prospective businesses must acquire local permits before applying for a state license.

Man facing drug charges after being accused of stalking

On Nov. 27, it was reported that a California man was taken into custody for allegedly stalking a female co-worker. The 49-year-old man was also charged with manufacturing and possession of methamphetamine after authorities searched his residence.

The woman who was allegedly being stalked made a report to the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety on Nov. 22. She told authorities that the man had been following her and was becoming more confrontational in his behavior. Authorities said that the man admitted he was behaving aggressively and that he wanted to be with his co-worker. Authorities then arranged a meeting with between the woman and the man. He was taken into custody without incident.

Actress pleads not guilty to drug charge

California residents may have known that actress Rose McGowan was charged with felony drug possession in Virginia. McGowan's legal representation entered a not guilty plea on her behalf in a courtroom in Loudon County. A warrant to take McGowan into custody was obtained in February 2017, and the actress turned herself over to authorities on Nov. 14. According to media reports, an airport worker found a wallet that belonged to McGowan that had two bags of a powdery substance in it.

The substance was later tested, and it was determined that the substance was cocaine. McGowan believes that the charge may be an attempt to silence her, and she claims that her bag was left unattended for a period of time in the airport. She also claims to have filed a lost luggage report in addition to reaching out to United on Twitter for help retrieving her wallet.

Two Californians facing drug and gun charges in Santa Maria

According to law enforcement authorities with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office, a man and a woman were taken into custody on drug and gun charges on Nov. 10. The incident reportedly happened in Santa Maria at 6 p.m.

Officers responded to a neighbor's report of a burglary. When they arrived, they found a convicted felon who is currently on probation residing in the residence. The officers report that they found methamphetamine in the 24-year-old man's possession and a locked safe. They also reportedly found drug paraphernalia.

Drunk driving charges filed against Fetty Wap

California residents that are fans of Fetty Wap might be interested in learning that the star was recently arrested by officers with the New York Police Department in Brooklyn. According to news sources, Fetty Wap was charged with drunk driving on Nov. 3.

Law enforcement officers report that Fetty Wap was spotted by the police driving a 2015 Mercedes Benz at speeds of 100 miles per hour in a 50-mile-per-hour zone while engaged in a drag race with another driver. Officers stopped him on the Gowanus Expressway, which is located in Brooklyn, New York.

Alleged drunk driver leads police on slow-speed chase

A California man is facing drunk driving charges after smashing his pickup truck into multiple vehicles on Oct. 25 and refusing to pull over for police. The defendant, age 39, led police on a slow-speed chase that began in Carlsbad and ended in Vista.

According to media reports, the incident began when Carlsbad police received reports about a pickup with a trailer smashing into several vehicles on El Camino Real. At approximately 6:15 p.m., a police officer tried to pull the driver of the pickup over near Faraday Avenue and El Fuerte Street. However, he failed to comply. Multiple patrol cars then followed the pickup from Carlsbad to the 2400 block of Melrose Drive in Vista, where officers successfully deployed a spike strip to bring it to a halt. The driver of the truck exited his vehicle, and officers took him into custody.

Drunk man made young nephew drive car

A California man who was too drunk to drive was arrested on Oct. 22 for allegedly making his pre-teen nephew get behind the wheel of his car. The incident occurred in Port Hueneme at approximately 2:45 p.m.

According to authorities, a patrol officer observed a car that appeared to be driven by a child heading north on Surfside Drive. The driver turned right on Hueneme Road and committed multiple traffic violations. The officer initiated a traffic stop and found an 11-year-old boy operating the vehicle. The defendant, age 29, was slouched in the front passenger seat with an open container of alcohol. The officer said that he appeared to be intoxicated.

Woman facing felony drunk driving charges after crash

A 20-year-old California woman has been charged with gross vehicular manslaughter and felony drunk driving in connection with an Oct. 13 traffic accident that left her 20-year-old passenger dead and injured three others. Reports indicate that the woman was taken into custody following the accident and transported to the Ventura County Jail. Her bail has been set at $250,000.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the woman was driving with a blood alcohol level that was well in excess of the legal limit when her Lexus sedan strayed into the path of oncoming traffic on Highway 126 near Fillmore. Officers say that the woman's car then struck a sedan and pickup truck that had been traveling eastbound in the vicinity of Spalding Drive. First responders pronounced the woman in the passenger seat of the Lexus dead at the scene. A 38-year-old woman who was behind the wheel of the sedan struck by the woman's car suffered what were described as serious injuries, and she was transported by paramedics to a local hospital along with the woman and three others. The injured included a 2-year-old boy according to police.

Criminalizing drugs is ineffective

Many Californians are arrested for low-level drug crimes. Despite evidence that the criminalization of drug use doesn't work, law enforcement agencies across the nation continue to enforce drug laws to the detriment of the defendants, their families and the community at large.

According to the Uniform Crime Report from the FBI, more than 1.57 million drug-related arrests were made by U.S. law enforcement agencies in 2016, which was an increase of 5.63 percent over the number of arrests in 2015. Of those arrests, 84.6 percent were for simple drug possession, and 41 percent of all of the drug arrests were for marijuana.

Controlled substance schedules

California residents may be interested in how the federal government classifies controlled substances. The term 'controlled substance" is loosely defined as a drug that has the potential to cause harm to a person's health. Since 1970, the government has classified controlled substances by placing each into one of five numbered categories. Technically it is illegal for a person to possess any drug on any of the five classification schedules, but many of the drugs are available by prescription from a doctor, and having a valid prescription for a drug generally exempts people from being prosecuted.

Schedule I drugs are considered to have a high potential for dependency or abuse and are not known to have any medical value. Though much controversy surrounds that issue as it relates to marijuana, the federal government still classifies it as a Schedule I drug. Other Schedule I drugs include ecstasy, heroin, LSD and peyote. Some Schedule II drugs are available by medical prescription, but all drugs on this schedule have high potential for dependency. These drugs include morphine, opium, codeine, amphetamine and methamphetamine.

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