When someone is charged with a drug crime, it is understandable to think that the accused individual is in a lot of trouble -- almost as if it is a foregone conclusion that he or she will be found guilty. There are a couple of things wrong with this line of thinking. First, no one is guilty until proven innocent; everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Second, there are plenty of viable defense strategies that can be used by the defendant to help his or her case.
Illinois has a long fought the manufacture, marketing and use of synthetic marijuana. In our article Chicago Cracks Down on Retailers Selling Synthetic Drugs, we mentioned that the city was among the first to make it a criminal offense to sell the drug and that the state was not far behind. A law that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2016, takes these laws a couple of steps further.
About a week before the Super Bowl, USA Today published an article about synthetic marijuana use among NFL players. The point of the article was less that the drug is illegal in most states and under federal law than it was to take the NFL to task for not adding synthetic cannabinoids to the list of banned substances.
Medical cannabis is now legally available in Illinois, but patients should still take extra care in interactions with law enforcement. It is especially important for patients to remember that neither prescribing physicians, nor registered dispensaries nor the Illinois Department of Public Health itself can give legal advice -- only a practicing attorney can do that.
More and more, observers and authorities, including President Obama, have acknowledged that America’s “War on Drugs” has been a failure. Millions of people are spending years in prison or otherwise under institutional control for non-violent drug offenses. A disproportionate amount of these people are racial minorities, leading critics to charge that federal drug laws are discriminatory.
Over the past several days, the United States Supreme Court has issued several important decisions. The media and the public are understandably lending the majority of their focus to the same-sex marriage decision released today and the healthcare decision released yesterday. However, another important decision was handed down this June. Although this decision will not affect as many Americans as the two high-profile decisions just mentioned, it will affect a smaller number of Americans in truly significant ways.
Drug crimes are among the most frequently and heavily prosecuted offenses. And when it comes to heavy-handed prosecution, the federal government is the undisputed leader. The vast majority of federal drug crime cases never make it to trial, because defendants usually opt for a plea deal. Is this because federal prosecutors always have the evidence they need to convict? The answer is no, but they do have broad powers that allow them to coerce guilty pleas even from some defendants who have not committed a crime.
There has long been an argument regarding how to respond to drug offenses. On one side, there are those who support efforts to come down hard on people who violate drug crimes to send a strong message that such actions will result in harsh penalties. On the other side are those who believe that it would instead be better to help people in this situation rather than punish them.
For quite some time, there has been a contentious dispute over drug crimes and enforcement. While some people believe that targeting drug offenders and handing down harsh punishment is an effective way to send a message and put criminals in jail, critics of the current system argue that it is racially discriminatory and putting unnecessary strain on our legal resources.
Federal drug investigations are typically quite extensive; enormous amounts of resources are dedicated to the processes of investigating, prosecuting and sentencing for these offenses. Cases involving drug trafficking, conspiracy and virtually any suggestion that there is a drug ring or extensive network of alleged criminals making, buying or selling drugs often calls for an aggressive law enforcement response.