Patrick and Barbara Jiron, ages 80 and 83, respectively, were on their way to see family when they were pulled over by Nebraska police. The Jiron’s were placed under arrest when the cops found 60 pounds of marijuana in their car. The arrested elderly couple claimed the marijuana was to be given as Christmas gifts to their family.
The Jiron were travelling from Northern California to Vermont to see their family and deliver the unconventional Christmas gifts. The arrested elderly couple was initially pulled over for drifting over the center line and failing to signal. When deputies smelled the raw marijuana, they asked to search the vehicle. Patrick Jiron consented.
The deputies discovered the 60 pounds of marijuana and several containers of concentrated THC in the back of the Jirons’ pickup truck. Marijuana will be legal in California beginning January 1, 2018, but it is still illegal in Vermont. Patrick and Barbara Jiron were placed under arrest for possession with intent to distribute and failure to affix drug tax stamps.
Marijuana laws in Nebraska are laxer than in other states. Though it has mostly been decriminalized, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. Nebraska law requires those in possession of illegal drugs to purchase drug tax stamps. Failure to do so can result in hefty fines and possible jail time.
Patrick and Barbara Jiron had not purchased any drug tax stamps while passing through Nebraska. The arrested elderly couple was pulled over on Interstate 80. This is a popular route for making arrests related to marijuana, as out-of-state drivers are typically not aware of the state’s tax stamp law, and have usually failed to purchase them.
The street value of the 60 pounds of marijuana being carried by the Jirons was roughly $336,000. In Nebraska, a tax of $100 per ounce over six ounces applies. Therefore, the Jirons would owe almost $96,000 in taxes. Their failure to purchase the state tax stamps is defined as a class IV felony.
As the push for marijuana legalization continues in other states, there is still a high risk when travelling with marijuana through states that have not legalized it. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts (R) wrote in 2015 that “Legalization of marijuana for any purpose has proven to be a risky proposition because the controls placed on its use in other states have fallen short.”
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