Americans need to understand that they’re not necessarily safe from prosecution just because marijuana is becoming increasingly legal in parts of the country.
Since marijuana is legal in around 20 states for adults 21 and over, the American cannabis-using public has taken on a blasé attitude when it comes to weed. Many are of the opinion that the increasing acceptance of marijuana across the United States has made it to where there are virtually no repercussions even if law enforcement happens to find it on them in states where it is banned. However, there is still a load of hardships that can arise from the possession of the cannabis plant in areas of prohibition. One of which involves getting your children taken away by the state.
Earlier this year, a Michigan woman named Erika Prock set out on a road trip with her 18-month-old son to pick up her husband Todd from her in-laws along the Mississippi-Alabama border. On the way home, the family made a stop in Moulton, Alabama for lunch. It was while Mr. Prock was standing outside smoking a cigarette that the situation took a wild turn. A police officer accused Prock of having marijuana on his breath. According to AL.com, Mr. Prock eventually admitted that he had smoked marijuana and had around two ounces in the trunk.
Big trouble was on the horizon.
The Procks, who are from a state where marijuana has been legal for medicinal purposes since 2008 and adult use since 2018, were arrested for various charges, including marijuana possession. But more than that, the couple was later charged with felony chemical endangerment — a law that is typically used to prosecute parents who raise children in meth labs. Their son was subsequently snatched up by the Department of Human Resources and placed into foster care. He remains with a strange Alabama family to this day.
Now, the couple must fight some gnarly criminal charges while working on getting their child back into their care. And that’s not going to be an easy task. They’ve since moved into a tent on their in-law’s property, where they have spent months battling the charges. But prosecutors aren’t taking the case lightly, and there’s no indication that they are going to go easy on the Procks.
“I don’t understand how the same situation in two different states can differ so drastically to the point where in one state your child is taken and put into foster care over marijuana and you’re charged with chemical endangerment,” Prock told the news source, “but in another state, they consider it legal and safe and you go home to your family that night and never have to worry about your child being taken.”
At the risk of sounding insensitive to the situation, the Procks made one devastating mistake during this trip — they traveled outside their home state with marijuana. Regardless of how nonsensical conflicting marijuana laws might be, the fact remains that a person (or a couple) from a legal marijuana state cannot travel into a prohibition state, like Alabama, with marijuana in tow and not expect to feel the wrath of law enforcement if they get caught. States are not required to consider the marijuana laws of a person’s home state before filing criminal charges.
Furthermore, some states remain militant about marijuana possession. In some places, weed is no different than heroin. Despite the changing laws in many parts of the country, hundreds of thousands of people are arrested every year for pot. Unfortunately, the Procks just made that list.
Lawrence County District Attorney Errek Jett says the situation is cut and dry. The Procks screwed up — big time.
“Although an officer may exercise discretion,” Jett explained, “there is no provision under the laws of Alabama to permit possession of marijuana if the individual is from a state where it is lawful. Possession of marijuana is illegal under our laws. A similar situation exists where one of our citizens has a pistol carry permit but travels to New York, for instance. In that situation, the Alabama citizen has committed a criminal offense under the laws of the State of New York.”
Americans need to understand that they’re not necessarily safe from prosecution just because marijuana is becoming increasingly legal in parts of the country. State marijuana laws only cover the state. Traveling across state lines with marijuana is technically a violation of federal law. Make no mistake about it, there are still plenty of opportunities for citizens to get jammed up in the criminal justice system over weed. That’s not likely to change until the federal government legalizes nationwide and gives more states the green light to take similar action.
Sure, it is more than likely that Good ol’ Boy states like Alabama will probably be the last to change their marijuana laws. Still, the repeal of federal prohibition would at least support the argument that their hellbent dedication to criminalizing marijuana offenders is dumb.
Obviously, none of this helps the Procks get their kid back. But their story might keep more citizens from suffering a similar fate. Know the marijuana laws. It’s best to leave the weed at home when traveling. Even if marijuana is legal at your final destination, it definitely isn’t in the eyes of the federal government, and it might not be in bordering states. Either that or keep a real shark of an attorney on retainer. Because if you get busted for pot in most places, you’re going to need one.
The Fresh Toast is a daily lifestyle platform with a side of cannabis. For more information, visit www.thefreshtoast.com.