Tuesday, September 27, 2005

People v. Urziceanu (Cal. Ct. App. - Sept. 12, 2005)

I love this guy. To get a sense of how some people really do take the Compassionate Use Act seriously, read the first seven pages of this opinion. Michael Urziceanu is hardly a guy who's just passing out pot to anyone who walks into his house in order to make a profit. Look what he does with an undercover cop who comes to his house to buy some marijuana for her alleged headaches: (1) he opens up his home to help her even though he normally only processes new members on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, (2) refuses to provide her with any pot when she says that she left her doctor's certificate at home," and instead tells her to fill out the paperwork (a drug dealer with paperwork?!) and come back the next day with her certificate, (3) makes a copy of her driver's license and medical certificate for his files, (4) calls the doctor on the cop's form five times to verify that the certificate isn't a forgery and is in fact a real certificate, (5) gives her some pot in bread and a cookie for free because she says she needs 'em, and (6) sells his pot, which I imagine is pretty good, for $50 per 3.5 grams, which seems like a fairly reasonable cost (basically, $50 for an eighth (of an ounce)).

In other words, this is exactly the kind of practice that you'd want your true "Compassionate Use" guy to run. Of course, he's doing this pretty much in public, so all the police have to do to bust him is -- as they did here -- read the newspaper or search the web, make an easy undercover buy, and then go to trial. Not that the guy (Michael Urziceanu) isn't pretty cool about the whole thing; as the police are searching his house and doing an inventory of all his pot, for example, he tokes up. (Which, admittedly, I might do too -- if only to relieve stress -- if I was potentially staring at several years in the pokey.) Now, mind you, some of the stuff here strikes me as less than stellar; for example, he's also got several guns and ammo in the house. Drugs and weapons; probably not the best mix.

So what kind of person becomes a professional compassionate drug distributor, you ask? Well, at least here, interestingly enough, Michael started out working for the New Jersey Department of Corrections. But cracked three vertebrae on that job and subsequently got clipped by a drunk driver while driving his motorcycle. Not really good luck on either front, and probably caused a lot of pain. Maybe even enough to start his transition to his current occupation.

Eventually, at his trial, Michael Urziceanu gets acquitted of several offenses but convicted of several others, and he appeals. Justice Robie reverses his conviction on the conspiracy to sell marijuana count but affirms his conviction on the felon in possession of firearms and ammunition counts, the former on the ground that the Medical Marijuana Program Act applies retroactively. So a retrial on that count.

That's my drug update for the day.