Drug Policy

Another "Drug Treatment" Horror Story From Florida


Yesterday we told you about a Florida stock broker and grad student who practically had his life ruined after being caught with a single Oxycontin pill. The man was forced to report his no contest plea for possession to his employer, who fired him. For the next year, he was forced to attend two Narcotics Anonymous meetings a week and 15 weekend-long state-run drug courses (even though he had never taken Oxycontin), and was given a curfew that made it difficult for him to work decent at hours at his new job (being a short order cook). 

That story caught the attention of another Florida man who had his life turned upside down by Florida's insane drug laws. He emailed us the following: 

I was pulled over for having a dimly lit tag and asked to consent to a search before the officers even ran my license. When I refused consent, they kept me on the side of the road in the middle of the night and questioned me for over an hour before finally arresting me for a DUI after I refused to consent to a roadside urine test. They then took an "inventory" of my car and found a small quantity of LSD. [roughly 25 doses.]

So now a few months later I am in the thick of state supervision. Faced with an inordinate mandatory minimum my best bet was to agree to any program I could get into. 

I immediately lost my job as a substitute school teacher and exhausted the savings I was using to pursue a degree in chemistry. Replacement work has not been easy to find and those third party [background check] groups make sure my mug shot is near the top of any google queries for my name. 

LSD use is hardly the epidemic that prescription pills supposedly are, so why was our emailer facing "an inordinate mandatory minimum"? Because of the ridiculous way Florida measures drugs. 

One gram of LSD crystal can yield roughly 10,000 doses. Our emailer had 50 tabs of actual LSD crystal, or roughly 4-5 miligrams. But Florida doesn't weight the amount of LSD crystal, or the active ingredient in any illicit drug. Instead, they weigh whatever the drug is on or in: 

For the purpose of clarifying legislative intent regarding the weighing of a mixture containing a controlled substance described in this section, the weight of the controlled substance is the total weight of the mixture, including the controlled substance and any other substance in the mixture. If there is more than one mixture containing the same controlled substance, the weight of the controlled substance is calculated by aggregating the total weight of each mixture.

In our emailer's case, police weighed the 50 paper tabs he had, and also the vial in which the tabs were contained. So instead of having 4 miligrams of LSD–which would have been a low-level possession charge–he had 31 grams. The threshold for a mandatory minimum LSD trafficking charge is one gram. Seven grams or more, meanwhile, gets you a minimum of 15 years in prison. 

Faced with spending the next decade and a half in jail for possessing a recreational amount of a relatively harmless hallucinogenic drug, our emailer spent most of his savings on an attorney who helped him get into drug treatment, and is now spending what he has left on rehab for a drug that he's not addicted to. 

I again reached out to Greg Newburn of the Florida chapter of Families Against Mandatory Minimums for more context on how Florida measures drugs. He gave me an example about cocaine that's pretty shocking.

"Under that language, if you hand me a 12 ounce can of Coke, but just before you hand it to me you mix 1 gram of cocaine into the liquid, then you call the cops and tell them I'm drinking cocaine-laced Coca-Cola, I face a 7-year mandatory minimum for 'trafficking in cocaine' (more than 200 grams but less than 400 grams)," Newburn writes.

"And since Florida removed the mens rea requirement, the state doesn't even need to prove I knew the cocaine was in the can. I can present my lack of knowledge as an affirmative defense, but the jury instructions permit a jury to presume the defendant had knowledge of the illegal substance based solely on the possession."

I can only imagine how many other recreational users in Florida are wasting time and money on rehab, having their career prospects ruined, all because their only other option is a ridiculous mandatory minimum. 

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  1. Our drug policy and legal system really is Kafkaesque, isn’ it?

  2. Obviously, they shouldn’t be evil drug heads.

  3. pursue a degree in chemistry

    To make more LSD, without a doubt. Another scumbag drug producer off the streets. Well, “off the streets” since he’ll probably be homeless when all is said and done. But he won’t be a damn drug pusher.

    On a side note, why do we even allow colleges to continue to teach drug making (aka, Chemistry, Mary Chem, White Chemmy, Sweet Chemmy Jane, and so on…)

    1. Actually, he may just become another “damn drug pusher”, when he finds that the system has prevented him from getting decent work. Think of all the non-violent drug offenders who leave prison with a degree in crime.

      Chemistry has a vast number of legitimate uses, so teaching the subject is not going to be banned anytime soon.

  4. A “roadside urine test”? What the fuck?! As in, right there by the side of the road; not even taking you to the station for the test?

    And if you piss clean, do they then light you up for exposing your junk?

    1. Never heard of such a thing.

      1. They probably just made it up on the spot.

    2. do they then light you up for exposing your junk?

      I’m sure they would have done that anyway.

    3. Catch-22, right? Kinda like the cops in New York ordering you to empty your pockets. Since simple possession of small amounts of marijuana is not a crime but displaying it is, they can bust you. If you refuse, they can bust you. Catch-22

      So, if you refuse the test, you get arrested and an automatic DUI. If you do the test, they arrest you for public indecency and turn you into a sex offender. I think the DUI would be the better bet.

      And if you piss clean, do they then light you up for exposing your junk?
      He’s got a gun! Shoot him!

    4. I’ve never heard of a roadside urine test. If such a thing existed, it would surely be easily challenged in court due to the conditions under which the sample was taken. Not to mention that your standard piss test that would give relatively quick results (30 minutes to an hour) are no where near as accurate as the piss tests they administer for official drug screenings which can take days or weeks.

      To my knowledge, Florida utilizes breathalyzers and field sobriety tests during DUI traffic stops and refusing them will result in the loss of your license at the very least. Of course, failing a field sobriety test can lead to a breathalyzer test, piss test, or blood test after you’ve been arrested and taken to jail.

      1. Florida utilizes breathalyzers and field sobriety tests during DUI traffic stops and refusing them will result in the loss of your license at the very least.

        I am confused. I’m not a Florida resident, but I thought that a motorist was not obligated to participate in roadside sobriety or breathalyzer testing? Indeed, I had thought that it was a poor choice by the driver to do so, as all you’re doing is making the officer’s case for him at trial.

        They are obligated to participate in testing at the station, should things degenerate that far. (And if they follow Texas’s sterling example, they get stuck by a cop-turned-phlebotomist even if they refuse consent.) One reason being that the station’s instruments have greater precision and accuracy.

        Is this not the case in Florida? Regardless, the OP’s story sounds incomplete; it was just the notion of a roadside urine test that caught my eye.

        P.J. O’Rourke hit it on the head: “Jail will fuck you up far more than any drug ever will.” Think we’ve seen this with this story and the one before.

        1. Technically, you cannot lose your license for refusing a field sobriety test. The way it generally works is that those who refuse to submit the test are arrested on suspicion of DUI/DWI and are then booked in jail. This of course leads them to require a breathalyzer, blood, or urine test. If you refuse to consent to a chemical test of your blood, urine or breath, your license will be seized and SUSPENDED on the spot for up to a year unless you are acquitted in court. If you are convicted in court of DUI, that suspension can be lengthened or your license can be revoked. So you are correct, but refusing a sobriety test in the field is used as an admission of guilt that will lead to arrest. Refusing to take the test at the station will automatically suspend your license. Your best hope in this scenario is that there is now no evidence that you were intoxicated and that perhaps that lack of evidence will lead to an acquittal but you are still without a license until that happens. More often than not, it doesn’t since you are usually video taped the whole time and depending on how drunk you appear, that video can be used to convict you.

  5. I’m wondering what the probable cause/reasonable suspicion was for the search, the DUI demand, etc.

    1. Something about his story doesn’t add up. Florida is certainly draconian when it comes to mandatory minimums for LSD but I’ve never heard of a roadside piss test before. Granted it may have been some ploy by the cops to trick him somehow but I feel like we’re not getting the whole story here.

      Typically, the cops in Florida will ask to search your car on a whim without probably cause and most people, feeling they have nothing to hide, agree to it and are sent on their way. If you refuse, they say, “If you have nothing to hide then why not let me search your car?” This has happened to me twice in the 20+ years that I’ve lived here. Both times I refused and they held me there for an hour or more while they supposedly ran my plates and license to check for warrants, all the while asking me over and over again what I was hiding because only someone with something to hide would refuse to let a cop search his property. Both times they sent me on my way without a search once they found that there was no legitimate reason to keep me there.

      1. I am suspicious of the whole thing too. Was he high when pulled over? A roadside piss test?

  6. http://www.themorningnews.org/article/the-heretic

    Great article on the therapeutic benefits of LSD.

    1. Any argument you can make against MDMA or LSD is at least as true for any number of psychiatric drugs. Drugs are bad, mmkay, except when they’re no fun.

      1. Unless you are predisposed towards schizophrenia, in which case it will cause insanity.

        1. Isn’t it better though to bring on the schizophrenia early, rather than wait for it to randomly manifest on its own later on?

          1. That’s like finding out if your house is on fire by soaking it in gasoline.

            1. No it isn’t.

      2. A lot of widely prescribed psychiatric drugs are much, much worse than street drugs. Haldol, Thorazine, and nearly all of the anti-psychotics cause massive brain damage when taken long term. They also cause conditions such as akathisia and diskensia. They are now called neuroleptics, literally “brain killers.”

        1. However, they are not very enjoyable, so they remain legal.

          1. Well, that is the key. Any compound that might actually lead to “free thinking” can never be made available to the general public. They might actually begin to question teh uthorities.

            But, if the military is trying to develop a new type of “truth serum”, well, that’s a different story. I wonder how many substances they are using on “detainees”? We already know that they have tried sensory deprivation.

        2. or the asthma med with the side-effect of “asthma-related death.”

          1. My favorite is the anti-depression drug that may cause suicide.

            1. I think that’s a listed side effect of almost all antidepressants.

              1. A bit of a Catch-22. Many potential suicides are too depressed to go through with an actual plan. The anti-depressant elevates their mood enough to where they can carry out and follow through with it.

                Not really the anti-depressant’s fault, IMHO, though that won’t stop the jury.

        3. I think I remember reading that when Sasha Shulgin would experiment with a new compound, there would always be a straight friend with him ready with a syringe of Thorazine. Supposedly, it is the best way to put a halt to a bad trip.

          Granted, he wasn’t taking Thorazine on a regular basis.

          1. I think most of them “work” by stopping dopamine transmission, so I can see how they could also stop trips.

    2. MDMA (Ecstasy) was undergoing trials as a therapeutic agent when the media finally noticed that people liked to go to dance clubs after taking it. Once it became the DRUG THAT IS KILLING YOUR CHILDREN, there was no hope it would wind up anywhere but Schedule 1.

      1. I’m gonna win you over with my pitchfork tongue and my dancing feet. *to self* C’mon drugs, work!

  7. Removing the mens rea requirement from crimes should be a de facto violation of due process rights.

    1. That was my thought…but you know the rights that are explained in that musty old document aren’t the same “rights” our overlords grant us.

  8. “But Florida doesn’t weight the amount of LSD crystal, or the active ingredient in any illicit drug. Instead, they weigh whatever the drug is on or in”

    Put one microgram of LSD in/on an anvil.
    Ship anvil to state legislator.
    Make anonymous phone call to police.
    Sit back and laugh and laugh and laugh.

    Oh wait, I forgot, those laws are only enforced against the little people.

    1. They should have weighed the car.

    2. Skip the LSD and the police.

      Let’s just all ship anvils to legislatures, state and federal.

      Then sit back and enjoy as they try to dispose of thousands of anvils.

      1. Stimulus!

  9. I wonder if Floridians are at all aware how much police time and taxpayer money it is costing them to enforce these draconian laws.

    1. I wonder if Floridians are at all aware how much police time and taxpayer money it is costing them to enforce these draconian laws.

      I justifies budget increases to hire more cops and to pay for overtime for the ones they already have.

      1. Mo’ money for the unions!

  10. Instead, they weigh whatever the drug is on or in:

    It was in the car. Therefore he had about 2,000 pounds of LSD.

    1. “I’m thinking of turning on Detroit.”

  11. “weigh the car”, “it was in the car, so weigh that”, etc

    guys….that car was on Planet Earth.

    we’re talking megagrams. billions of megagrams.

    (5*10^24 kg,
    5*10^27 g,
    5*10^18 Mg,
    or, 5 billion billion megagrams.)

    1. Dude, they are SOOOOOO busted!!!11

  12. This is why nobody uses sugar cubes anymore.

    1. I always preferred Tricuits.

  13. he was forced to attend two Narcotics Anonymous meetings a week and 15 weekend-long state-run drug courses (even though he had never taken Oxycontin)

    that’ll turn anyone into a drug user

    1. The best place to meet new connections for drugs is at NA meetings.

  14. Jeez, if you’re dealing, keep it in liquid form until the last possible moment. Aside from the asinine “weigh and charge for the container” law, you can actually dispose of the “evidence” that way if you need to.

    1. “RC!!! You been watchin’ ‘Breaking Bad’ again?! Come on back in and get yer medicine. And it’s time for dinner….”



  16. I don’t know how anyone can even offer treatment for LSD addiction with a straight face (OK, I know how, but it’s still fucking nuts). LSD is pretty much anti-addictive. You have to take twice as much to get the same effect the day after using it, many people don’t want to repeat the experience of an acid trip, and most people who like it a lot don’t want to do it very often or even ever again.

    1. ou have to take twice as much to get the same effect the day after using it

      We used to take it every other day. That was the rule-of-thumb me and my friends used.

      1. We used to take LSD, shrooms and X on alternate months, and that was enough. Always fun.

  17. Our emailer had 50 tabs of actual LSD crystal, or roughly 4-5 miligrams. (Note: Two “l”s in “milligram”)

    100 mics/hit? Damn, things have changed. It used to be a minimum of 300 mics/hit, usually closer to 500. Fucking thief deserves jail!

  18. And as the vial was found inside his car then the weight of his car should also have been taken into account. So instead of having 4 miligrams of LSD he should have been charged with having 4,000 pounds of acid.

    Would that have made the prohibitionists happy?

    Who the hell are THEY to tell ANYBODY what they can and cannot put into their own body?!! A VICTIMLESS crime should be NO crime at all!

  19. At least dude wasn’t stopped in a school zone. Then they would have cause to accuse him of trying to “peddle his addictive junk-smack to innocent school children”. And at least he wasn’t wearing a “Slayer” t-shirt because then it would all have been “done in the name of Satan” and I’m pretty sure that can get you the death penalty in the south. (Don’t quote me on any of this, it may be hyperbole…then again)

  20. jway…

    I agree with you.

    It’s sad that people often get (far) less time for harming their children than they would for certain drug crimes. They (Uncle Sam) give us this BS line about having to protect the children from dangerous drug peddlers, but they don’t act very interested in protecting those same children from fucked up parents, school lunch budget cuts, crappy public schools, etc. It’s a fucking shame that we have allowed them to get away with eroding personal freedoms to the extent that they already have. I can’t see this freight train reversing course anytime soon either. Communities need to band together to disempower lock up the cops, prosecuters judges who ruin innocent lives over a few sheets of acid or a baggie of weed. (Lets not forget the weak minded drones who create these draconian laws).

    1. I almost forgot to include how the government is complicit in allowing American kids to be “medicated” with anti-depressants and/or Ritalin when they show some emotion or spirit.

      The government can’t allow psychedelics to be available because if (many) kids were using psychadelics (correctly) the need for antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds would be diminished. $$ lost.

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