Reefer Madness in America: Another Arrest Statistic Speaks To The Horror and Waste of Cannabis Prohibition

At NORML, we’re always a little hesitant to broadly publicize the plights of what are hundreds of thousands of victims annually of Cannabis Prohibition laws. NORML’s snail mail overflows daily with letters and pleas of help from our brothers and sisters incarcerated on cannabis-only related offenses and while the organization replies to all with 1) support and encouragement for them to keep persevering, 2) affirming to them that America’s cannabis laws are overly harsh and punitive, and 3) that their legal plight is recognized and, in turn, fodder to help educate the public, media and elected policymakers on the crucial need to immediately and forever end Cannabis Prohibition in America.

Below is an email I received yesterday from a mother traveling from California to Texas, who, unfortunately chose a travel route that exposed her to a federal government law enforcement checkpoint on the highway that resulted in her arrest, detention and now prosecution for possessing a small amount of medical cannabis (specifically hash). These very legally questionable federal roadblocks are done under the guise of ‘immigration control’ ensnare thousands of cannabis consumers annually on nothing but minor possession charges.

Fortunately, she was able to make bail and post a bond, otherwise, she would still be in the local jail…and self-evidently would not be reaching out online for assistance and guidance.

The account below is an unedited first person description of what they experienced, witnessed and heard when they became one of America’s approximate 820,000 annual arrests for a minor cannabis-related charge.

My personal reply follows…

Please join and support NORML and local NORML chapters to help reform our country’s antiquated cannabis laws and to provide help and support to the victims of this long-suffering and wasteful public policy.


Hi Allen,

I just wanted to make you aware of an encounter I had with Border Patrol in TX and Hudspeth County Jail. It’s sort of a very rough account of my dealings. I’m being charged with a third degree felony for PCOS of hashish. I’m a CA resident and not that is matters, I have a dr’s recommendation for the state of CA.

On Tuesday June 12th I was on my way to pick up my son from Fort Worth, TX. He had been visiting with his grandparents the past 3 weeks. Heading around the bend of a mountain about 200 or so miles into Texas I spotted a permanent border patrol checkpoint. As soon as you turn the corner there are cameras pointed at your car, dogs walking up and down, and men with the border patrol stalking you.

As soon as I reached the front of the line they were alerted to my vehicle. I was asked to step out of my car and to grab my driver’s license after being asked if I’ve ever traveled through Texas before. The men and dogs tore through my vehicle as I was questioned and informed that I was under arrest for “narcotics.”

They took me into the border patrol building, without handcuffing. They filled out some paperwork and about an hour and a half after I was arrested I was read my miranda rights. I was thrown into a cage in the building and left to sit for about 7 hours. I was told a few times that the sheriff was on his way to pick me up.

The sheriff then took me away from the room I had been held in, asked me if that was my car parked out there, which I replied “yes,” and then I was put in the passenger seat of his car, again without handcuffs. The 5 minute drive seemed like eternity. Being in the mercy of this man with guns whose car smelled of burnt cannabis and hashish. I felt the corruption as soon as I sat in his car. I looked over at the time, it was about 10:30 pm.

When we arrived to the jail we both stepped out of the car and walked in. I was told to dress and give them my personal belongings that I had on me: cell phone, id, and $21. While I was dressing I over heard a woman night guard speak to the sheriff, “We’ve been getting a ton of phone calls for her and it’s been annoying. We should throw her into solitary.” The sheriff and others laughed. I couldn’t tell if he had agreed until I was indeed thrown into a cage marked as solitary.

I looked around the filthy room, full of used feminine products, hair, dirt, and all sorts of debris. The room was lacking a bed roll, toilet paper, a blanket, and a cup. I asked several times to be provided with these items as I had been awake since 4 am that day and was extremely exhausted. Everytime I was met with the same thing, “when we get you booked.” What seemed like a few hours later I begged for toilet paper and a cup. After another hour of so I was provided with toilet paper and a cup filled with ice that I thought must have come from the male urinal. The next few hours I attempted to sleep on the metal bed frame with the toilet paper under my neck for support. I was shivering from the cold cell and lack of clothing.

A few hours after falling asleep I was woken up with a yell, “hey, get up.” I was then booked into the jail. I looked over at the digital clock in the room the guards were in: 3:45 am. A few more snide remarks were made about the phone calls as they asked me questions, took my hand prints, picture, and I filled out paperwork with them. One of the forms I filled out stated it was an acknowledgement that I received my bedroll, toilet paper, cup, spoon, blanket, etc. When I told the man those were items I hadn’t received yet, he said that I would obtain them when I reached my cell block.

After I was booked, I was taken to the cell block. Provided with a mattress, blanket, cup and spoon. I took the toilet paper from solitary.

The next day I asked every few hours when I was to be arraigned. I was told between 9am and 1pm. The female guard had told me it would more likely be around 1pm because the magistrate shows up later than sooner, usually.

1pm comes and goes. I get anxious and start asking the guards every 30 minutes when I was going to be arraigned. I kept getting told it would be a bit longer. It was about 3pm that I was arraigned by the magistrate. She had made a comment when she heard about the phone calls from my friends that she should have held me for 72 hours before seeing me. I told her, “My friends don’t like when peaceful people are caged.” She didn’t reply.

I immediately called my husband and asked him to bail me out. I had been away from my son for 3 weeks and I was afraid of any further mistreatment. My bailiff showed up around 4 pm and paid the bail. I kept asking when I was going to be released and was ignored for 2 hours. I find out after that, the reason for their delay, my clothing had been lost. I was furious and couldn’t stop sobbing. I was released about 7:30 pm to my bailiff when my clothing finally showed up. She took me to a motel room and I slept for the night after a hot shower.

As of this date, I have not received any more information regarding a court date. I’m unprepared financially and with knowledge to fight this. Any help you can provide would be great, even if it’s spreading the story about my horrible treatment over a healing plant.



Hello X,

Thanks for your email, though I’m sorry to read of the circumstances that precipitate your communication.

Indeed, every 38 seconds in America, a cannabis consumer is arrested (850,000/year…90% for possession only). I’m not entirely sure post-arrest what practical help NORML can be as 1) you’re correct that a recommendation for medical cannabis use from CA holds no legal sway in TX, 2) there are thousands of drivers/passengers a year harassed/arrested by law enforcement checkpoints in CA, AZ, NM and TX (the ones in TX have nabbed Willie Nelson and other celebrities too), 3) It is not clear what if any legal defense one can employ to challenge the search as, for the most part, these searches are deemed legally conducted by local and regional judges (and the dogs’ smell abilities are not much in question).

NORML has a few dozen members who’re also lawyers in TX…and you might want to contact one or more of them to inquire 1) what if any possible legal challenges are availed to you and 2) if there is no viable and/or cost effective way to challenge the search in court, then to try to mitigate the possible negative legal outcomes as much as possible is probably the best course (ie, plea bargain, drug court, etc….).

Also, you might want to be in touch with NORML chapters in TX too:

I’ve CCd NORML’s Legal Counsel to see if he has any further ideas or suggestions.

Your writing about a terrible event that has happened to you during this period of Cannabis Prohibition in TX is extremely well written and articulate. Thank you again for sharing what has happened to you, which only affirms the need for law reform groups like NORML to succeed in ending Cannabis Prohibition. And, please be in touch with local NORML chapters and lawyers in TX to maximize your information base, so that you and your family make the most prudent decision to get this Prohibition-related nightmare behind you…and to look to a future where you too help change these misguided laws as a genuine stakeholder.

Kind regards,

Allen St. Pierre
Executive Director
Member, Board of Directors
NORML / NORML Foundation

1600 K St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

51 thoughts

  1. This is just another example of how law inforcement in america has become the largest criminal organisation we have ever seen. If you legalize marijuana, 60% of todays lawinforcement officers will no longer be needed to police our cities and towns, and their power to brutilize americans without and culpability, will be greatly deminished. It is time to take our country back, and vote those members of congress out of office who refuse to heed the wishes of the people of the country they were elected to serve. What our justice department is doing is paramount to treason, and those that are involved should be tried in a court of law for that crime.

  2. My experience was the law was considerably better. The accommodations were indeed sparse, but my treatment was less severe. I treated them with courtesy and respect and was treated the same, except for the plain clothes narc who kept trying to bait me into a response. He had no behaviors in place to deal with such a ‘felon’.

    My record was eventually expunged, but I can no longer obtain a security clearance.

  3. I have had similar experiences with border patrol and would like to point out that it is a bit disturbing to me that almost all checkpoints have drug dogs, are within state borders, many appear to be completely random, and all have cameras seemingly locking you in…etc.The question i ask my self is are these checkpoints really to catch illegal immigrants and if so why is so much extra money spent to catch drug offenders??It just seems as if its just another ploy to spend money on a war on drugs that will never be won…pretty fucked up…glad to see my state moving closer and closer to decriminlization of cannabis/hemp and to the states that are not hang in there 25 is the number of states that i feel need to pass the law before it will get legalized nationally at least that was the case with alcohol prohibition

  4. the government has no control over these power freaks, they all bond and get buddy, buddy, over how they are better than civilians, it makes me sick,

  5. Why do we put up with it? Where’s the outrage? Why aren’t people demanding to make it legal overnight? It’s a fight for freedom, and our government is clearly violating it. Over half of the country supports legalization, so why aren’t we using force if necessary to take our freedoms back? It’s time to stop being cowards and do something.

  6. if i hear another cop or politician say “This never happens” I’m going to actually be sick…………

  7. You must treat them like the gestappo they are.-When bringing just seed back over the border-found the perfect place to hide the sacred seed-even spoke to the border patrol agent; whilst the seeds were safely right in front of his face-just post 9/11 and didn’t smoke a speck before crossing. Be like james fucking bond in naziesque redneck states who claim to be free and american-or don’t bring forth the forbidden flower. Last I checked; America was supposed to be the land of the free for the people; of the people; by the people. As long as we persecute other citizens’ whose beliefs and lifestyles may clash with our own ideals: we never will be.

  8. This is a prime example of why I will NEVER live in, let alone visit, the state of Texas. Corruption at it’s finest and some of the harshest penalties anywhere. My guess is that, along with Utah, Texas will be the last state to ever allow medical use. It’s blatantly obvious where their interests lie. Criminal prosecution of people using a harmless plant.


  9. I would like to know what probable cause these nazi pigs had to search her car, to run the dogs through in the first place. California plates?

    Why is there a “border” checkpoint 200 miles inside Texas? Shouldn’t the checkpoint be on the border?

    This is just an example of how Nixons’s war on drugs, which mutated into the Bush-Cheaney war on terror, has become a papers-please police state that is ignored by the Pontius Pilate Obama administration.

  10. – “We’ve been getting a ton of phone calls for her and it’s been annoying. We should throw her into solitary.” The sheriff and others laughed. I couldn’t tell if he had agreed until I was indeed thrown into a cage marked as solitary.

    – That made me sick

  11. There’s not much I can say here that I haven’t said before, since the awful truth is that individuals with similar stories are far from rare.

    All I can think is that I hope with all my being one day we’ll be able to look back on the current state of our ‘war on drugs’ and wonder how anyone could have ever allowed such an affront to all that’s right and good to go on for as long as it has.

  12. Thats why I hate texas. Always stay in CA no matter what and be proud of that Doctor’s Recommendation. Just keep thinking to yourself, even if its 2012, that it IS a privilege to own a Medical marijuana card legally and use it accordingly in the State of CA.

  13. If something like the incident described above ever happened to me, I’d be more than a little tempted to go Rambo on the bastards and take everyone of them out of my misery as soon as I got the chance! Damn them and the state of Texas!!!

  14. Honestly people…recently was in club room (some bars here are club only) with about 10 other people in the 40-60 age range, in Texas, and only 1 person was not for legalization (it came up due to a marijuana bust being reported on TV).

    I have known of a police officer who was in the habit of taking mj off of dealers (but not arresting them) and planting it on people he wanted arrested, like one case where a girl wouldn’t go out with him…he searched her truck right on her property.

    It is about power and control, not morals…plenty of Texans believe in legalization and taxation, they just don’t usually talk about it.

  15. They have some Boss Hog, good ol boy type law enforcement down there in Texas. The checkpoint isn’t for the border and illegal immigration, it is for us. Our freedoms and the constitution are deteriorating more and more each day.

  16. I’ve been through that checkpoint many times.It’s on I-10 at mile marker 107 or close to that. The town is Sierra Blanca, Texas. That is where Willie got nailed. I would advise anyone traveling east toward San Antonio to leave your stuff at home.I saw them take some huge bricks out of a spare tire, enough to fill two large garbage bags. The officer was carrying them over his shoulder, grinning real big. I wanted to ask him if he thought they may have finally gotten the last of it and the war is over.

  17. Galileo Galilei must be a government troll. I say unwarrented STOPS are automatic justification for pointing your legally justified arms right in the face of those stopping you and asking THEM, WTF is YOUR problem?

  18. Regarding the conditions noted in your detainment please file a complaint with the TX jail standards commission detailing the timeline/conditions you provided in your letter. The county jails take any issue relayed from the TX jail standards very seriously, and hopefully something will be done to correct the county jail issues you experienced for the next person that ends up in there… See attached link.

  19. My vote is hereby up for sale to the candidate who mostly clearly promises to regulate cannabis like alcohol and/or tobacco. You listening, Republicans? You can have my vote. Just clearly promise to support cannabis. I’m talking to you, Romney.

    Otherwise, it’s going to Gary Johnson. Cause Obama has had his chance.

  20. I’m noticing a lot more hostility in here than usual and I have to say I’m torn. Generally speaking I’m an advocate of non-violent resolution, but I believe that indeed the tree of liberty must, on occasion, be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants alike (Thomas Jefferson, paraphrased) but it seems that currently only the patriots are bleeding and it’s been that way for far too long. I find it saddening and tragically unfortunate that on the few occasions I read about a police officer who has been killed in a drug bust I smile openly because I know that’s one less tool the tyrannical prohibition machine has at its disposal to infringe on our liberties. I’d like to hope that I’ll live to see the day that this is no longer the case, but I fear I’ll more likely be gunned down in my home for smoking a joint on my couch or rotting away in a cage for the same instead. What a broken world we’ve inherited….

  21. This also brings to mind that our community could use an app that lets users report roadblocks in real time (and alerts others) so those of us who may be carrying a dime bag will have ample opportunity to find an alternate route and avoid these Nazi checkpoints. Anyone wanna get to work on that? Lol.

  22. Our governments prefer to keep committing crimes against humanity to distract everyone from the fact that they have no real policy nor in fact any idea at all of how to run a government and a country competently.
    The drug war puts the most aggressive, unintelligent people in power and we are never going to get anywhere as long as we suffer the indignity of their stupidity.
    Legalize. Support ballot initiatives and pot friendly politicians.

  23. Iam from Corpus Christi tx The ( T-B-P ) Are consider to be the f-u of law men. What happen to this lady is very nice come pare to happen to my friends. I for one do not mine taking out the (T-B-P). They are given so much power and they all ways get away with what every they do. I so glad this lady was not rape by one of these cop. In the valley its real bad. Women are rape from the law men all the time.

  24. All of you cattle make me sick, It is people like you who got us in this mess in the first place with your hate of a state because of the feds. Texas does not have border patrol agents, the federal government does, and you should try getting an education before you run your mouth about things you know nothing about. The people of Texas are the ones who are prayed on by these agents 99% of the time, but one california woman gets treated like we have been being treated for more than 50 years, and all of the sudden it is the people of the state that are at fault. Open your eyes to the real truth, and grow up.

    [Editor’s note: These federal ‘immigration’ check points are often hundreds of miles from the borders with Mexico and Canada. If Texas citizens are the primary victims of these federal shams, they historically don’t say ‘boo’ in opposing the feds’ actions. In truth, the local, county, state and federal politicos from Texas beg the feds for more money and latitude for these so-called check points.

    Lastly, while it is the feds that lay the traps, it is local west Texas sheriffs, jailers, bondsman and prosecutors who get to feast on the fed’s victims…and to feed mightily from the taxpayer trough all the while.

    Pox on the houses of both the feds and the local governments still trying to prosper from seventy-five years of Cannabis Prohibition.]

  25. So sad. I really hope this country wakes up! This story is horrifying! I feel so bad for her and her family! WHY do they do this!? Why?…. :’-(

  26. I will vote for Ron Paul, a man of principle and morals and one day we may be able to actualize FREEDOM! You say YOU won’t vote for Paul, I hope you understand, when you vote for Obama or Romney, YOU are sending soldiers to die in unconstitutional wars. YOU think about that, try to feel good, our soldiers are dieing because of YOUR vote. America is suppose to be a land of pride, how you can find pride in your vote, I CAN’T UNDERSTAND! Paul may not win, but I’ll know I tried and I am proud of MY VOTE! Are you?

  27. The check points do not exist in Texas alone, and for the Editor to make a comment against Texas without bringing this fact to light, makes you the same as the other people lying to us. These check points exists in AZ. and CA. as well and you don’t hear them crying about it, or opposing the feds, so why the hate of my state alone. Crying or saying boo gets you no where, if it did you would not have a job because MJ would be legal.

  28. Declaration of Rights of Cannabis Users

    Mission Statement: To bring an end to cannabis prohibition in 2013 by gathering signatory members through promotion and declaring our rights through the document, “Declaration of Rights of Cannabis Users”. Giving prohibitionists reasonable opportunity to affect appropriate, timely and agreed upon change and, if necessary enforcing our rights in a peaceful way. After April 20 2013 adopting a zero tolerance for acts of brutality and injustice by prohibitionists.

    The laws regarding cannabis were born on the wings of lies and pampered by propaganda such that now the tightly held belief systems are going to have to reckon with the desire of all humanity to live with dignity, free from the oppressive tyranny that ignorance and bigotry have spawned.

  29. the same thing happened to me in the horrible shit hole of texas… i was three days out of the Air Force, and driving back to california from south carolina. i got pulled over and me and my friend were taken to jail for less than a gram. we had to spend the night in jail in this little one horse shit hole town called van horn. it seemed the only revenue this shit stain on the map received was from speed traps. they told us that we would be seen in the morning, but we were there for 2 days because they couldn’t find a judge magistrate. i asked the guard “how hard is it to find a judge on a tuesday?” and he ignored me. we had the cash to bail out, but they made us go through a bondsman, and i still havent heard anything about my case

  30. This is such a sad story. I hope that no charges are filled against her. Something very similar happened to me on Tacoma, Wa. The police in Pierce county and Tacoma treat medical patients as harshly as meth heads.

  31. Im from Corpus Christi,Tx and work in the oil fields for Baker Hughes oil tools. Every Thursday we have safety meeting at the shop. Sometimes at the meetings they tell us about what’s going on out there. Stuff that doesn’t make the news. People are being car jacked and killed every day in Texas and its not just about the drug war. People also smuggle immigrants all the time. And both have the potential to get violent. One story was about some Haliburton employees were stoped by some guys on the side of the road. The two guys pulled guns, killed the guys from Haliburton and took off with there pick up. These drug and immigrant smugglers are all over Texas, so that’s why the Border Patroll has check points all over. The drug sniffing dogs are there to give probable cause to search your vehicle. Once they give a signal, the cops have the right to search with or without consent. Now im not saying that I agree with this practice. But what I am saying is if you plan to travel across state lines with illegal drugs, you better do your research so that this doesn’t happen to you. Im totally against prohibition, but what is legal in one state may be different in another. As for the treatment this lady got, yes that is totally wrong. She should complain about that. This should be a warning to anybody traviling through Arizona and Texas. It’s very Dangerous out here!! Women should not travel by themselves. People, do your research on your rout and the laws within the state.

  32. This is a sickening email that makes me sick for the future. I hope that this strong woman finds a way to win her case and prove to these ignorant pests that they were not only wrong, but also down right arrogant.

    That’s southern law for you.

  33. Well, you may be surprised that this sounds very familiar with what Southern California is doing . I’ve been cited more than once for a traffic violation(s) that never occurred & for something i never did .Even with a mountain of evidence including photos supporting my clearly not commiting any traffic violation the Judges will rule on the Officer’s side . I also believe the Judge’s do know they are lying but will 99.999% of the time find you guilty based solely on what the Officer says .Just like these
    ” border patrol ”
    stops in Texas….& making up charges in California, it’s all about money and not safety or immigration issues .

  34. They have the same thing here in, California . They’re call D.U.I. checkpoints and just like border patrol checkpoints the wording of ” D.U.I. & Border patrol ” checkpoints are words meant to trick & decieve you . They are everything but D.U.I. checkpoints .

  35. I, had a polition come to my door and tell me that the reason why they leglize marijuana for the disable in Mn. and said ” the cops tell me not to”. There is only 1 thing I, forgot to ask him before I, through him of my property was, ” If the cops say jump do you say how high”. I won’t be voting for him and am plaining on moving out west, becuse I’m, tired of living in pain and freezing 9 mounths of the year and have to pay the high taxes for living in this state.

  36. Texas is a rotten, dirty, hot place full of crooked cops and vengeful people – always has been. I avoid traveling there or buying anything from there and have for years. Don’t mess with Texas? **** Texas. It’s a dump, run by criminals.

  37. How about you research the MJ laws in other states before driving through them with your meds? I have lived in this great state of Texas all my life. I have also smoked over a decade and never had a run-in with the law…because IM SMART ABOUT IT. I make a trip to colorado every year, and do not even REACH for my stash until I cross into New Mexico because I DO RESEARCH and see that the laws are much less harsh in NM and especially CO. What happened to this woman was awful, but to be honest, she was the one carrying through TX where it’s still very illegal and treated like heroin for some reason. The MJ card doesnt hold ANY weight once you leave your state. If you JUST HAVE to bring your stash with you, you better make adjustments to your route accordingly so this doesnt happen. Its still illegal in TX and 30-something other states, deal with it, or dont come here. Its that simple. P.S. California smells worse than TX.

  38. I was in solitarely for possession too.
    It was 38 yrs ago, and due to overcrowding though.

  39. This is pathetic when will the bs end?? We The People say fuck alcohol and we choose cannabis sick of this shit. Fuk em grow a plant grow two r three. Get hostile right back. The peace shit ain’t working time to fight.

  40. This is INFURIATING. This is just plain wrong. How can this happen? ENOUGH ALREADY! I hope she finds the help she seeks.

  41. I’m from texas and have worse stories to tell. I hate Texas’ bs laws on mj. Of course I have to blame it on the people and lack of action that is taken. Seriously thinking of leaving this place if policy does not change quick enough

  42. education works to enlighten
    prohibition works to encarcerate
    god made grass, man made booze, who do you trust?

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