Fear of prosecution was something cannabis users always feared. The effects of prosecution can not only tarnish an otherwise clean record but in a lot of cases it can completely destroy the lives of those around them. Ten years after being charged Blaine Shaw has changed his status from what the state called a criminal to what the state now respects as a patient.
“March 16, 2009 I was arrested for felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, based on quantity, as well as for misdemeanor paraphernalia possession for a pipe. It was an amount of marijuana patients are now allowed to possess under State Question 788.”
Legislation now allows up to three ounces of marijuana on their person. This doesn’t include the eight ounces allowed at their residence, one ounce of concentrate, six mature plants, and six seedlings.
The amount Blaine had would seem like a lot if you consider weight but anyone who has dealt with buying “brick weed” knows the price you pay is cheaper if bought in bulk. However, the potency and quality are hardly worth the crime when we compare it to higher quality and higher potency cannabis.
“After an illegal search and seizure, I was kidnapped/arrested and taken down to the police station and locked in a cage (jail cell). I was not provided with a lawyer that night, even though I’d asked for one immediately upon arrest and questioning. I was not even allowed a phone call all night either. My cage/jail cell had a phone in it too, but it didn’t work at all.
It was like some kind of sick joke. After being locked away for a couple hours, I went to sleep on my extremely thin sleeping pad on a raised concrete slab. It was 4 to 5 hours later, the police woke me and put me in handcuffs with chains, leg shackles and loaded me up in a transport van with other “criminals” and took us from the police station to the main county jail.”
Due to the amount and the charges he was facing he was transported to Tulsa at 4:30 am after a long night of very uncomfortable sleep. A sleeping cell mate to begin with and a second facing possible DUI charges as his only company to pass the time.
“The lawyer I found cost me $5,000. I got lucky and ended up avoiding prison.”
“The reason I look kind of rough in that mugshot is because I had been asleep for a while in my jail cell before being woken up in the middle of the night for transport to the county jail. The mugshot photo was not taken until I was booked into the county jail around 6 to 7 hours after my arrest.
I was still not allowed a phone call for a few more hours until I was finally booked in. It ended up costing $1000 through a bail bondsman to get bailed out of jail. I was facing a felony and 2 years to up to life in prison for a non-violent, victimless marijuana possession offense.
Compared to that, the misdemeanor and maximum of one year in jail I was facing over the pipe didn’t seem to matter much. The lawyer I found cost me $5,000. I got lucky and ended up avoiding prison.
Instead, I went through the Drug Court Program for a few years and eventually got the case dismissed and the charges dropped in the end through a delayed/deferred sentence probation plea agreement. The police even tried to seize my vehicle through asset forfeiture. I’d owned the vehicle for 9 years, since junior year and high school.”
Criminal forfeiture is when property is seized after someone is convicted of a crime. Civil forfeiture also known “Policing for Profit” allows law enforcement to seize property and money prior to citizens being charged or convicted of a crime.
“The biggest private property threat to Americans,” was how Scott Bullock, senior attorney at The Institute for Justice describes it.
His vehicle was in no way associated with the charges. “The biggest private property threat to Americans,” was how Scott Bullock, senior attorney at The Institute for Justice describes it. Through the efforts of his attorney he was able to purchase his vehicle back for $500 approximately six months later.
The asset forfeiture by definition would mean “the object is guilty of the crime,” this would not have been the case since the vehicle wasn’t related to the crime and the amount of time, he had the vehicle would not have coincided with the charges.
It was 1998 when the Oklahoma Drug Court program was initiated with the intention of helping people achieve and maintain abstinence from drugs and avoid jail time.
Upon further research I read how drug court creates law abiding productive citizens. It was July, 2018 that the Oklahoman published an article entitled “Oklahoma’s Drug Court System not only saves tax dollars but saves lives.”
“I was treated like a common criminal the entire time and it was very stressful.”
Blaine quickly discovered the difficulties that came with drug court and his experienced served as more of a nuisance rather than it being beneficial.
“Drug Court was very rigorous probation with random urine drug tests 3 to 5 times a week costing $14 cash each time. I had a 10 PM curfew, a probation officer with a $40 monthly fee, and a requirement to maintain full time employment or school.
I had to attend several AA meetings and drug court group treatment meetings each week, as well as regular court appearances in front of the drug court judge and drug court administrators. I was treated like a common criminal the entire time and it was very stressful.
So many different things could have gone wrong and messed up my probation. I didn’t even have a car for the first 6 months of probation because it was locked away in impound with a seizure hold on it.
I had to rely on friends and family to help get me to all the places I needed to be because the police were trying to keep my vehicle and sell it and keep the money for themselves through civil asset forfeiture/seizure.”
It was really the support of his friends and family that helped him succeed as this situation could have escalated had he not had the people around him. The state didn’t suspend his license but they required a breathalyzer called a “sobrietor” attached to his home phone for the first six months that tested him three times a day.
“I wasn’t even in trouble for alcohol at all. I had simply been honest during drug court’s initial drug and alcohol assessment intake and admitted that I drank alcohol too and preferred it over marijuana at the time. I was charged $5 a day to have the required device.”
The fear that if he wasn’t able to complete the program kept him going as failure meant he was looking at facing four years of imprisonment. His lawyer informed him he’d have to serve at least 85% of those four years.
He was fortunate enough to complete it without any issues and the case was dismissed. “Although it had a positive outcome in the end, I look back on the arrest and the entire legal case with bitterness, resentment, and contempt.
I was originally facing 2 years to up to life in prison and was treated like a common criminal the entire time.”
Along with charges he faced in 2009 he also was in a car accident that delayed the process. In the program it is required he maintain a job, do community service or attend school. He was still walking with a cane after his accident but was able to do community service at the Boys and Girls club that wasn’t strenuous.
He began attending school that fall after already having 20 hours of college under his belt. He obtained an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice as his experience led him to pursue further understanding of the law.
He transferred to online classes at OU as well while still attending TCC for his foreign language. After finishing probation October 28, 2011, he moved away from Tulsa county and moved to Oklahoma City where he was able to graduate in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Criminology from the Oklahoma University.
He continues to live in Oklahoma City with his wife and his daughter and is now a proud owner of a medical marijuana card.
We as a state have transitioned from criminal activity to just another patient taking their medicine.
— Blaine Shaw