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Marijuana Possession Charges Rising in Yellowstone

Posted by Steve Karimi | Jan 06, 2015 | 0 Comments

Perhaps the reason Yogi the Bear, a resident of Yellowstone-knockoff Jellystone Park, was so in love with picnic baskets was that he had a case of the munchies. In Yellowstone itself, it seems that the occurrence of munchies is on the rise.

As the Associated Press reports, an increasing number of tourists at Yellowstone National Park are being prosecuted for possessing small amounts of medical and recreational marijuana. Regardless of the state law of the land these parks exist in, marijuana remains illegal on federal land.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Cheyenne, which prosecutes most cases in Yellowstone, has seen a large increase in prosecutions over the past several years. The office prosecuted 21 marijuana cases in 2010, 52 in 2013, and at least 80 in 2014.

Park rangers attribute the rise in arrests on people's ignorance of federal law. The fact that Colorado, which abuts the state, has legal recreational marijuana also contributes to the rise.

Most charges are the result of traffic stops during which rangers smell the drug in the vehicle.

Alex Freeburg, a criminal-defense attorney in Wyoming who frequently handles marijuana-possession cases from Yellowstone, notes in the story that “[M]ost of the time, if a ranger says, ‘Do you have any marijuana in your car?' they'll say yes,” Freeburg said. “In which case, there's not a lot a criminal-defense attorney can do for them.”

Those arrested for possession of small amounts generally receive a $1,000 fine.

As a criminal defense attorney in a state that allows both medical and recreational marijuana, I often have to remind people of the unique position that Initiative 502 has put us in. Despite the fact that the drug has been legalized here in Washington, the marijuana people purchase here is not legal in other states or on Federal land.

Again, that marijuana is illegal also remains true in the National Parks here in Washington.  There are numerous National Parks, Recreation Areas, Historic Sites, Historic Reserves, and Historical Parks throughout our state, including in Seattle itself.

Federal law enforcement officers can arrest you for possession in those parks, even if the quantity does not violate Initiative 502.

If you purchase recreational marijuana, make sure you do not bring it to any federal land. If you do, you can be prosecuted under Federal law, which can be harsh.

If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer on Federal land, do not admit to possessing marijuana.

If you are charged with possessing marijuana on Federal land, then you should protect your rights. An experienced defense attorney will ensure that you get the best possible results.

Attorney Steve Karimi has years of experience both prosecuting and defending drug possession charges in and around Seattle. If you are charged with possession, do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi for a free consultation.

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.


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