In a bizarre case of history repeating itself, another celebrity has been arrested in the Texas border town of Sierra Blanca. Sitting just 10 miles from the Mexico border, Sierra Blanca has an interstate running through it that has become quite a lucrative source of cash and publicity for the local sheriff. In the past several years, Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg (I mean, Snoop Lion), and hacker George Hotz have all been stopped at the same check point and either cited or arrested for marijuana possession.
Now Fiona Apple has joined the club, and it is no laughing matter. Apple was caught with a small amount of marijuana and hash, but it is more serious than it seems. In Texas, possession of any amount of hash is treated as a felony. The amount Apple supposedly had on her bus is punishable by at least two years in prison, and up to 10!
Texas law punishes hash and other marijuana concentrates much more severely than simple marijuana, even though they are essentially the exact same thing aside from the potency. Anything under four grams gets you the penalty Apple is facing, but anything over that can get you 20 years in prison, and over 400 grams can put you behind bars for 99 years.
Texas is one of the few states that make this dubious distinction, but it isn’t the worst. Last April, Oklahoma passed a law making manufacture of hash punishable by a life sentence.
We’ll keep you updated, but it looks like this talented singer could be doing serious time for merely traveling through the wrong town carrying a substance that is safer than alcohol.
Note to celebrities or anyone traveling in a fancy tour bus: STAY AWAY FROM SIERRA BLANCA.
Apple, a company with more cash on hand than the U.S. Treasury, couldn’t stop him from jail breaking the iPhone’s iOS software. He cracked Sony’s PlayStation 3 software, at the time thought to be the most secure video game platform available. But George Hotz seems to have met his match in Texas. According to AboveTheLaw.com, Hotz, who has a medical marijuana card from his home state of California, was stopped at the border patrol checkpoint in Sierra Blanca while on his way to the SXSW conference where he was scheduled to speak. If the location sounds familiar, it’s because it happens to be the same checkpoint where Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg were busted for marijuana possession.
Hotz was arrested for possession of a quarter ounce of marijuana and chocolate edibles containing less than an eighth ounce of marijuana. Rather than being issued a citation and released, as Snoop Dogg was, the local sheriff charged Hotz with a felony, using the weight of the chocolate (rather than the amount of marijuana it contained) as a “correct” indication of how much he possessed.
Who is being served by Texas law enforcement’s focus on arresting individuals for marijuana possession? Certainly not the taxpayers, who end up carrying the financial burden of the misguided war on marijuana users. Last year, Texas cut over $31 billion in spending to close their budget deficit, including cuts to public education, health and human services, and ending financial aid for nearly 60,000 college students. Yet, these senseless arrests and prosecutions continue. Hotz is just the latest victim of the Sierra Blanca checkpoint and of a war that results in 750,000 arrests like this one, with billions of dollars wasted each year.
Eminent rapper and marijuana aficionado Snoop Dogg was arrested over the weekend when officers at a Texas checkpoint searched his tour bus and found a few joints. He was issued a citation and released.
Imagine that, Snoop Dogg has a few joints in his tour bus! That means the town of Sierra Blanca, TX should stop what it is doing and investigate immediately!
It should be noted that this is the same town in which Willie Nelson was arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession in 2010.
What is it with this particular town busting celebrities who are famous for proudly using marijuana? Could it be as simple as publicity stunts? Perhaps the local law enforcement really, really doesn’t like marijuana users, and they are intent on picking on the most famous of them. It is not a big jump in logic to assume that marijuana might be found on either of their buses, but does that make them priorities? Another thing I wonder about is how many illicit drug shipments get through that same checkpoint while the other officers are searching for anything they can find that will incriminate the entertainers?
This is just one more example of the folly of our governments’ approaches to marijuana. Taxpayers get to see their hard-earned money being spent to investigate and prosecute famous musicians, as well as more than 750,000 less-than-famous marijuana users every year, while serious crimes go undetected and unpunished right under the noses of law enforcement.
Will putting Snoop Dogg in jail make anyone safer? No. The same goes for any non-violent marijuana user. Yet our society continues to allow the arrests of these individuals at nearly record rates. Unfortunately, most of those people do not have millions of dollars, teams of lawyers, or the power of public sentiment on their sides. They are just statistics in a war that has gone on far too long.