Marijuana

Warning: Don't Bring Your Legal Marijuana Through Internal Border Checkpoints in California

Recreational pot use becomes legal in the Golden State in 2018. The feds don't care.

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Border patrol
Danny Raustadt / Dreamstime

On Monday, recreational marijuana sale and use becomes officially legal under California law. But a warning for folks who live in the southern part of the state: You may have problems if you try to bring marijuana through internal border checkpoints.

Despite legalization, Border Patrol agents in the many internal stopping points in California will seize and keep any marijuana they find, regardless of whether it was legally purchased, the Associated Press reports:

"Prior to Jan. 1, it's going to be the same after Jan. 1, because nothing changed on our end," said Ryan Yamasaki, an assistant chief of the Border Patrol's San Diego sector. "If you're a federal law enforcement agency, you uphold federal laws."

As if we need more reasons to hate these infernal, internal "checkpoints." Ostensibly intended as a second buffer to catch illegal immigrants, the checkpoints are really about trying to stop drug smuggling, and the government fully acknowledges this.

Thanks to a Supreme Court precedent from the 1970s, the feds have permission to search people without warrants miles away from the actual border to the country. As a result, anybody who lives within 100 miles of a border, most particularly the southern border between the United States and Mexico, can find themselves being stopped by feds and asked intrusive questions about what they're doing.

This can be a miserable experience for people who have to travel through these checkpoints regularly, and now they have to wonder if it's going to get even worse. The Associated Press reporter hung around an internal checkpoint east of San Diego and watched as a drug dog sniffed out a truck driver's small marijuana stash.

The only good news is that federal prosecutors seem to have no interest in going after people for simple possession. These people are photographed and fingerprinted but not arrested or charged. And obviously they have their drugs confiscated.

The Associated Press notes that 40 percent of all marijuana seized at these checkpoints are in amounts of less than an ounce. I'm guessing we see that percentage climb in the new year.

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  1. The only good news is that federal prosecutors seem to have no interest in going after people for simple possession.

    You don’t get to the governor’s mansion padding your resume with that low level petty shit.

  2. “Internal border checkpoints.”

    I think I’ve found the problem.

    1. Yeah, it’s still astonishing that this is considered at all “legal”.

      1. What, we stop chasing Mexicans once they’re in the end zone?

  3. Ostensibly intended as a second buffer to catch illegal immigrants, the checkpoints are really about trying to stop drug smuggling, and the government fully acknowledges this.

    But that is because, according to the p…y-grabber, more than half of immigrants from Mexico are rapists who bring drugs and crime (qualified by adding “and some, I assume, are good people” since “some” cannot mean anything more than 50% less one). The prevaricating p…y-grabber said so during his announcement speech, which must make the statement true. I mean, it’s not like all his admirers are dupes or assholes or something!

    Right?

    To be fair, the checkpoints have existed before the p…y-grabber ever insinuated the idea to his white supremacist admirers that the borders are being overwhelmed with millions upon millions of Mexican rapists who takum er jebz and want to date our daughters. That doesn’t mean their existence are consistent with the Constitution or even the RULE OF LAW.

    1. Old Mexican, I assure you “pussy” will go right by the Reason sensitivity readers. There is no need to bowdlerize “pussy.”

      1. Yeah Man… Emperor Trump is a pussy-grabber, pussy-grabber, Trump is a pussy-grabber, pussy-grabber, do, da-do-dah-day!

        There! I’ve said it!

        1. Wait! Hold the presses! I have discovered the hidden truth!

          Emperor Trump merely made a PRETENSE of trying to tear down Obama’s historical-signature ObamaCare, whereby all of us poor folks get subsidized medical care from Santa Clause…

          In a secret back-door, you-scratch-my-back, I’ll scratch yours, deal-o-rama!

          The payback is that the Trump Border Thugs are gathering up that California-legal, but-by-the-Emperor, illegal, weed, and forwarding it to the extended “Choom Gang”, that being Obama, Michelle, daughters, and friends and family! Let’s go get stoned with the Choom Gang!

    2. “Right?”

      No.

      Border checkpoints have been used for this exact purpose for decades, independent of Trump.

      1. Re: Chris P.

        You failed to read what I wrote after “Right?”

        1. I sure did.

        2. And it was not a failure as much a conscious choice to stop wasting my time.

      1. Potty-grabber?

        1. pratie grabber

    3. Nes flash. if by “pussy grabber” you refer to President Trump, you need to read up a bit on the origin of that false claim. The incident was NOT that he atually DID anything, but that he TALKED about this sort of conduct in an illegally recorded locker room bragfest. And I might also remind you that while Mr. Trump made crude and suggestive COMMENTS about how some silly wpmen will do anything to get time with certain classes of elites, we have a previous president that is known to have actually DONE a whole lot more than just mentioning grabbing these things, multiple times over many years…. yet HE seems to get a pass. Go ahead, rip up ol’ Slick Willie who DID grab and more, mulitple times.

  4. The only good news is that federal prosecutors seem to have no interest in going after people for simple possession.

    Thank you, Federal Prosecutors for being too lazy to operate on the principle that “DEEZ IZ A NATION OF LAWZ, DAMMIT!”

    These people are photographed and fingerprinted but not arrested or charged.

    A serious violation of their 4th Amendment rights but “Whatever”, right?

    How many Civil Rights lawsuits will these actions sprout after January 1st, I wonder? Is Gov. Moonbeam going to be brave enough to arrest Border Patrol agents for violating the rights of California residents who are exercising their right to possess marijuana?

    And obviously they have their drugs confiscated.

    That will mean “Stolen” once marijuana possession becomes legal in California.

    1. “…arrest Border Patrol agents for violating the rights of California residents…”

      Why haven’t governors been arresting them for violating the right of citizens to travel down the road unmolested? Doesn’t seem to me that anything will have changed in that regard.

      1. Doesn’t seem to me that anything will have changed in that regard.

        TRUMP! #RESISTANCE

  5. The only good news is that federal prosecutors seem to have no interest in going after people for simple possession. These people are photographed and fingerprinted but not arrested or charged. And obviously they have their drugs confiscated.

    With all due respect, Scott, being photographed and fingerprinted and having one’s legal property confiscated seems awfully similar to “going after”.

    1. But I see Speedos Gonzales đŸ˜‰ has made this point.

      1. I’m not sure what the point you’re making is. Prosecutors don’t make the arrests. I suppose if they strongly insisted that such arrests would never be prosecuted, the actual people making the arrests might listen. Then again they might not.

  6. If only California had some influence at the federal level…

    Imagine if they had the house minority leader or an influential senator!

    1. They already got a spending rider to protect *medical* MJ, or maybe they don’t, since I read in reason that might end.

      Anyway, they got enough favors already! /sarc

      1. Hmmm…

        “In the legislation to fund the government through Jan. 19 that President Trump signed today, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment remained intact..

        “”Patients around the country who rely on medical marijuana for treatment?and the businesses that serve them?now have some measure of certainty,” says Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) in a statement. “Our fight, however, continues to maintain these important protections in the next funding bill passed by Congress.”.”

        1. Figures. If it doesn’t involve “spending”, California ain’t interested.

  7. “The Associated Press reporter hung around an internal checkpoint east of San Diego and watched as a drug dog sniffed out a truck driver’s small marijuana stash.”

    Wow, since the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer protects medical MJ, I guess these are extra-special dogs who can not only smell dope but tell the difference between medical and recreational MJ.

    Maybe the dogs have medical degrees?

    1. Nah, just throw ’em all in jail and let the courts sort it out later. What’s the harm.

  8. Where exactly are all of these internal border checkpoints? I’m not disputing they exist, I’m just ignorant of them. I live in Chicago (sheepishly accepts hoots and insults from commentariat) so aside from seeing some SUV’s with fed plates around the airport, I don’t have much experience with them.

    If you’re a local, and relatively familiar with the non-major thoroughfares, would it be as simple as avoiding known checkpoints? I mean they can’t be on every road, everyday, can they? For example, when I used to live in a town in Ohio that bordered one in Indiana, it was pretty easy to stock up on booze in low-tax Indiana and take the back roads across the border to home, knowing that the local dippity-deputies were parked on I-70 at the state line.

    1. There is one on the I-5 North between San Diego and Orange County on the way to Los Angeles.

      There’s one on the i-15 between San Diego County and Riverside County on the way to the Inland Empire.

      There’s one on the i-15 south between Las Vegas and all of southern California–it gets people taking the I-15 south as far as Barstow to go to the I-40 and all points east, as well.

      There’s one on the 91.

      Odd numbered interstates run north and south, and I suppose every odd numbered interstate running north from San Diego has one–but they aren’t near the border. There are checkpoints coming across the border as well.

      1. Incidentally, all of the checkpoints can be avoided using state highways that crisscross those interstates. It just usually takes longer to avoid them than it does to go through them.

        Also, they seem to be closed on national holidays. You cab drive anything you want through on holidays.

        They just waive you through almost all the time–unless you’re missing a license plate or something. I guess the trick, for them, is to look like you’re doing something important enough to delay people but not to delay people so much that they provoke the ire of the public enough to close the checkpoints.

        Incidentally, they do look for patterns of behavior in the license plate numbers. If you rent a car that periodically drives across the border to Mexico and back, in a way that arouses their suspicion, the system will flag you to be searched. It’s supposed to work something like the programs that flag oddball transactions on your credit card for potential fraud.

    2. There is one on I-5 between San Diego and Los Angeles in San Clemente. There are signs approaching the checkpoint warning of pedestrians crossing the interstate.

    3. cgr2727 from Chicago, you live close to the northern border… The Canuckistanians from Canuckistanistanistanistan have mostly white-ish skin and many of them speak some flavor of Engraisch, so the feds don’t much care about illegal humans from Canuckistanistanistanistan…

      Now brownish illegal humans from Mexico? We’ve got to torture and enslave everyone in sight, to protect us from them!!!!

      You tight-border “libertarians” who hate the illegal humans? This is just ONE flavor of giving Government Almighty ONE power for ONE specific use, and the power-pigs going hog-wild with it! Wait and see what else they come up with, vague supposedly justified by guarding us all against cheap grape-picking labor from illegal humans!

      1. If the internal checkpoints pulled over everyone for looking Mexican, they’d pull over millions of people a day.

        I don’t think they’re doing that.

        Those checkpoints have been there since the 1970s. It’s a pain in the ass, but it isn’t new–and I don’t believe anyone is being pulled over for looking like a Mexican. At some point over the last 40 years of millions of searches and God only knows how many arrests, there would have been a case–and since when has looking Mexican ever survived judicial scrutiny as probable cause?

        Can you imagine a department manual that instructed federal agents to pull people over at random for looking Mexican? No one is doing that–only in the anti-Prop 187 hysteria did that ever seem plausible. . . . and Prop 187 was struck down for precisely that reason (among others) 20 years ago.

        1. I’ll concede your point…

          However, to my knowledge, ALL of Trump’s noises about walls are about a SOUTHERN wall, not a NORTHERN wall… There’s got to be SOME reason for that, and I don’t like the way that I think it smells…

        2. Re: Ken Shultz,

          […] and I don’t believe anyone is being pulled over for looking like a Mexican

          Not in California at least. However their intent is not to look for “illeguls who takum er jebz” but to look for smugglers and many times these look like regular rednecks. No, they usually look for vehicles that look suspiciously heavily-laden for what they are.

        3. and since when has looking Mexican ever survived judicial scrutiny as probable cause?

          Uhm, Ken? CPB, literally, is exempt from the probable cause requirement. Within 100 miles of a border they can search anything, open anything.

    4. There’s at least one, sometimes up to three, on the I-8 route from Yuma to San Diego, at least one on the same route going the other direction.

      There’s one between Yuma and Quartzite.

      There’s one going into Arivaqa – in fact its almost impossible to leave or enter that town without passing through one.

      There’s at least one between the border crossing and Tucson.

      There’s one heading from Yuma to Phoenix.

      The thing is – you live in Chicago. No one in the US is worried about illegal *Canadian* immigration – no matter how many layabout hippies might come across – but its all about the BSP.

  9. Good discussion of this at http://www.cardozolawreview.co…..S.36.6.pdf – still requires probable cause to believe somebody is an illegal alien (though I am aware many LEOs don’t actually worry about such trivial formalities)

  10. One of the checkpoints is between Nevada and California–two states that have both legalized recreational marijuana–on the I-15 between all of southern California and Las Vegas.

    If I recall correctly, the drive for that checkpoint was spearheaded by California politicians back when the primary concern was the fruit fly. They used to spray whole neighborhoods in SoCal with malathion whether you wanted it or not, too.

    I haven’t actually been stopped at that checkpoint in a long time (they usually just wave you through), but the last time I was stopped, they still wanted to know if I had any fruit or vegetables.

    It’s an anachronism. I think concerns about the fruit fly evaporated when they tore down all the orange groves and replaced them planned housing developments. I don’t think they’ve sprayed any neighborhoods with malathion in decades either. They’ve probably been trying to think of a good reason to keep funding those checkpoints for a long time.

    Now they’ve found it–they’re fighting reefer madness.

    That ridiculous excuse should keep those government jobs safe for at least as long as the fruit flies did, maybe longer.

    1. Net neutrality would never be abused.

    2. That one’s not a federal checkpoint, though. I remember it from my Barstow days.

    3. There’s still one of those CA checkpoints between AZ and CA on I-8. However those are state checkpoints. I’ve never seen a CPB checkpoint ask about fruit and veg – only ‘are you a citizen, where you going?’ – once past the border itself.

      They used to be more prevalent and go both ways. In my youth I went through them going into AZ and now the CA checkpoint I mentioned has another station on the opposite side of the interstate but its been closed for decades.

    4. California’s Border Protection Stations (BPS) are the first line of defense in our pest exclusion efforts. At these stations, vehicles are inspected for commodities infested with invasive species. California established its first agricultural inspection stations in the early 1920s. Today there are 16 of these facilities located on the major highways entering the State (see interactive map). At these stations, vehicles and commodities are checked to ensure they are pest free and meet all regulatory requirements.

      https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/
      plant/pe/ExteriorExclusion/borders.html

  11. Can you bring marijuana through one of California’s state agricultural checkpoints?

    1. Should be able to.

      State operation manned solely by state personnel – and if its not illegal in the state . . .

  12. CANNABIS, CANNABIS, CANNABIS.

    Stop calling it “marijuana”, a term used to smear Mexican immigrants in the time of William Randolph Hearst.

    Let’s push “cannabis” as a less polarizing term, and one frankly with less baggage.

    1. News flash:

      No one really cares if a term was racist over a century ago. Not even Mexicans.

    2. Cannabis is harder to spell! But it is my preferred name for the medication. We don’t have any terms like that for other medications! Well, maybe dope, smack, etc., and a few others for the other drugs. I guess some of us care!

  13. “If you like your legal marijuana, you can keep………….”

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