Even in states where marijuana has been made legal, law enforcement agencies are still engaging in underhanded practices, some of which are blatant models of entrapment, to arrest people for marijuana.
A recent investigational report by CBS4 has discovered that Denver police have been using social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, to pose as black market growers in an attempt to bust those who purchase weed from anywhere other the city’s licensed pot shops.
While it seems unnecessary for cops to conduct marijuana sting operations in a state where prohibition has not had a pulse for the past two years, legalization has not stopped the hounds of Denver’s drug task force from concocting inventive ways to continue bringing the hammer down on what is left of the marijuana underworld. The report finds that Denver police have been setting up phony social media accounts, complete with back stories as to not arouse suspicion, to post photos of marijuana grows, tagged with captions like, “Place your order today, gets shipped out before 8 a.m.”
In fact, a Facebook post with a picture of a cultivation site under the headline “Getting close to peak!! Taking orders now!!” is what brought the heat down on 26-year-old Sean Edelson.
Apparently, Edleson replied to the post by saying he was “the type of person that will take everything, every time,” giving authorities an indication that a big bust was on the horizon. Not suspecting that he was about to be nailed to the wall, Edleson agreed to meet the undercover cops at a Denver restaurant, where he was then arrested for buying 36 pounds of marijuana for $64,000.
The days of drug investigators spinning their wheels in the streets to take down the black market drug trade are no more.
The scene has evolved into place where officers sit behind desks, mostly under the guise of fictional characters, waiting for black market marijuana dealers to take the bait.
Some of the sting operations outlined in the CBS4 report are intermingled with the countless posts for marijuana sales on Craigslist.
Although there is no denying that these types of operations are deeply rooted in the concept of entrapment, they appear to be completely legal as long as the investigators are able to collect enough evidence to prove the suspect on the other end of the computer has a predisposition for dealing drugs.
To make matters worse, it can be difficult for a defendant to prove entrapment in these types of cases, which often puts them in a position of either accepting a plea deal or risking their chances in a jury trial that has the potential to lead to prison.
Legal experts say the “predisposition” factor is crucial in these types of cases, even if it can be argued that police “induced” the defendant to commit a crime. The prosecution “must demonstrate that the defendant was ready, willing and able” to buy marijuana and not swayed to engage in criminal actions based on “friendship, hardship, or a play for sympathy.”
It is important to understand that law enforcement is permitted to lie about anything and everything in order to bust people for engaging in illegal activity—even when the act is simply buying marijuana in a state where it is grown, bought and sold as a part of everyday commerce.
Therefore, marijuana transactions via the Internet should be avoided at all cost. Trust no one!
(Photo Courtesy of the Boston Globe)