Written by attorney Forest Michele Wilkerson

Doing drugs at a music festival

If you are determined to do drugs at a music festival, here are some tips to be smart about it. These events are crawling with undercover cops and a felony arrest is the worst way to end your vacation. The law is very different for marijuana and other drugs:

1) Medical Marijuana

If Medical Marijuana is legal in the state, and you have a valid prescription then you may possess an amount appropriate to your medical needs. Don’t expect to get caught will a pound of bud in your backpack and avoid arrest because you have a card. Prescriptions from other states are also probably not valid.

2) Strictly Recreational Marijuana

In some states, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is either an infraction (not a criminal offense) or a misdemeanor. If the former, then the police will just take your bud and issue you a ticket – similar to j-walking. A fine of a few hundred dollars would be the highest penalty. If the latter, then possession can result in arrest, jail, and expensive fines.

The most troubling marijuana cases involve sales, possession for sales, or furnishing. A person who shares their marijuana with another person is furnishing drugs, and is technically guilty of a felony. Someone who gives their last joint to an undercover cop who repeatedly asks-- even begs for it-- will be arrested and charged with sales, especially if the person reluctantly accepts a $10 “exchange" for the joint.

3) Meth, Cocaine, Ecstasy, and LSD

Possession of any of these drugs will result in arrest and a felony charge, including possible jail time. That said, there is a vast difference between simple possession (for personal use only) and possession for sale or actual sales.

When a person is charged with simple possession (personal use), they will typically be permitted to complete a drug program and have their case dismissed. People with extensive criminal records, especially “strikes" are sometimes excluded. Also, be warned that such charges may result in ineligibility for student financial aid and deportation for non-citizens.

Sales and possession are completely different. Sales charges are non-reducible felonies and will typically involve real jail time. Police will look for a combination of factors when determining whether to charge for possession for sales or simple possession: 1) larger quantities of the drug; 2) separate or individual packaging; 3) large quantities of cash indicate sales; 4) multiple cell phones; and 5) written notes keeping track of drug sales. If you don’t want to be charged with sales, avoid any of these indicators.

4) Urban Legends (“Are you a cop?" and Entrapment)

It seems to be a typical piece of street wisdom among drug dealers and prostitutes that cops cannot lie to you if you ask directly before selling to them, “Are you a cop?" This is complete nonsense. If you ask the undercover cop if they are a cop, they will tell you “no", then buy drugs from you and arrest you. Police can and do lie to suspects. It is part of typical police technique and training.

Entrapment is also another common complaint coming from people who inadvertently sold drugs at a music festival. Suppose an undercover cop in a bikini flirts with you and asks ten times for a hit of X, so you go score some X for her from a friend-of-a-friend you know. You will be charged with sales. You may possibly have an entrapment defense at trial, and it could work. But that won’t prevent your arrest, charging, and being brought to trial. Entrapment amounts to a complicated legal defense at trial. The police can and will entrap you. Be prepared for a large investment of time and money getting your case in front of a jury.

5) How to Spot an Undercover Cop or Police Informant

Don’t even try, you can’t. The informant may be a sexy girl in a rave outfit (this is documented and very true) or a convincing stoner. Don’t give drugs to anybody you don’t know!

6) What do I do if I am Arrested?

Don’t make any statements to the police. Tell them you need to speak with an attorney first. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Additional resources provided by the author

Forest Wilkerson, Esq. Wilkerson & Mulligan A Criminal Defense Law Firm 78060 Calle Estado Suite 21 La Quinta, CA 92253 760-777-4322

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