Things are changing quickly in terms of marijuana laws: Nowadays, the majority of the population favors marijuana legalization. Amazingly, an increasing number of baby boomers are smoking pot. Thanks to states that have very loose cannabis laws, weed is very accessible and legal to many people who want or need it.
However, not all states are the same. There are states where the judge will throw the book at you if you’re caught with even a tiny bit of weed. Perhaps lawmakers are more worried about the side effects of weed rather than its potential health benefits. Or maybe legislators are buying into the marijuana lies spread by the likes of Jeff Sessions. Whatever the reasons are, there are some states and countries where the weed laws are shockingly strict. You can expect fines, arrests, and even jail time if you are caught in certain states or countries that have harsh marijuana laws.
For countless women and men who were charged with possession of weed and intent to sell, they’re still carrying out their 20-year life sentences, while rapists, murderers, and those who are committing various acts of fraud walk free because of glitches in the system or lack of evidence. According to lifeforpot.com, there is a shocking number of people who are serving life sentences for their non-violent crimes of weed distribution.
Meanwhile, according to reports, over the past five years, there have been approximately 1,300 suspected criminals, including child molesters, murderers, and rapists, who have escaped sentencing and prison time due to errors in arrest protocol.
So as marijuana legalization continues, let’s take a moment to think of those who didn’t make it to these glory days and paid the price for being caught with weed.
1. Four years jail time for possession of 0.003 grams of weed
A British man was jailed for four years in Dubai, in September 2007, when he was found in possession of microscopic grain of weed. Keith Brown was caught and arrested at the Dubai International Airport when the customs officials found a crumb of weed on the side of Brown’s shoes. Brown, who is a youth development officer in the UK and a father of three, was transferring flights from Ethiopia to London at the time. According to reports, the fragment of weed weighed only 0.003 grams. The tiny particle of weed was invisible to the naked eye, but it was still enough to violate the strict drug policy of the United Arab Emirates.
The Dubai customs officials are said to be using new, highly sensitive equipment to conduct exceptionally thorough searches on travelers, and if they find any amount of weed – no matter how minuscule – it will be enough to attract a four-year prison sentence.
2. One year in jail for one ounce of weed
Georgia is one of those states where cannabis legalization is starting to make progress. However, as the previous law states, possessing just an ounce of marijuana or less is considered a misdemeanor and puts you at risk of a year imprisonment and a 1,000 USD fine. As of January 2018, possession has been decriminalized by Atlanta, and the fine has been reduced to 75 USD. But, if you’re caught with more than an ounce of weed, you could be looking at a felony with a 10-year maximum prison term and $5,000 fine.
It should come as no surprise that intent to sell, cultivate, or distribute is a felony and carries very hefty prison terms ranging from one to forty years, depending on the amount of weed and if you were found within 1,000 feet of a park, school, or drug-free zone.
3. Up to five years in jail for the first offense
Japanese society and law view drug possession as somewhat of an unconscionable act. Not only do drug offenders risk facing up to five years in jail for their first offense, but there is also plenty of other, non-legal repercussions too. A few years ago, both a sumo wrestler and rugby player were found in possession of weed and had their Japanese sporting careers ended.
If you’re visiting Japan from an outside country, it’s best to not even think about drugs. The US state department has warned that offenders should expect long jail sentences and fines if they’re caught with drugs in Japan. In most drug cases, the suspects will be detained and barred from receiving visitors or even corresponding with anyone other than a lawyer or consular officer until after indictment.
Famous Beatle Paul McCartney and Paris Hilton have both been denied entry into Japan because of prior drug charges in their own country. Furthermore, as recent stories have shown, if you try to get weed into Japan from elsewhere, you can land yourself in hot water. An American student who was studying in Japan found himself in jail because his friend sent him marijuana-infused sweets.
4. Life in prison
A 75-year-old disabled veteran by the name of Lee Carroll Brooker was arrested in July 2011 for growing three dozen cannabis plants for his own medical use. He suffered from chronic pain and was growing the plants behind his son’s house, where he lived in Dothan, Ala. Mr. Brooker was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole for his crime.
Mr. Brooker had previously been convicted of armed robbery in Florida, and had served ten years for this crime two decades earlier. The Alabama law states that anyone who has certain prior felony convictions will be sentenced to life without parole when found in possession of more than one kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, of weed, regardless of intent to sell. The weed plants that were collected at his son’s house – including unusable parts like stalks and vines – weighed 2.8 pounds.
Life without parole, which is second only to the death penalty in severity, shouldn’t be a mandatory sentence for any crime, nevermind the simple possession of weed – which isn’t even a crime in some parts of the country. Besides Alabama, only Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Dakota have such laws. In Mississippi, being in possession of barely an ounce of weed is enough to trigger a mandatory life sentence for someone with prior convictions for certain felonies.
5. Death by hanging
As crazy as it sounds, it’s true. Possession of drugs is seen as a major offense in Malaysia. Although, as of 2018, they may become the first country in Asia to legalize medical marijuana, their existing marijuana laws are pretty harsh. If you are found in possession of more than 50 grams of weed, you can get at least five years in jail and a fine of more than 4 lakh Rupees, which is equivalent to 6,500 USD. Planting a marijuana seed can land you in prison for life. Even more shocking, being found in possession of 200 grams may result in a mandatory death by hanging penalty.
People who are found in possession of 200 grams or more of weed are presumed to be trafficking the drug and are therefore subject to the mandatory death penalty. There are over 900 people currently on death row in Malaysia, and 700 of them are thought to be for drug-related offenses. According to an online petition, over 50 of these individuals are there for marijuana trafficking.
Back in 2009, Shahrul Izani Suparman, who was 25-years-old, was sentenced to death for being found in possession of 622 grams of weed with the intent to supply. At the time of his arrest, he was only 19-years-old and had spent six years in jail fighting charges before being sentenced. In 2013, three men were sentenced to death for attempting to sell 4.8 kilograms of weed in a hospital car park in the Malaysian Upper Peninsula.