One cannabis trafficking case between California and Maryland is putting a spotlight on the blatant hypocrisy of the justice system when it comes to cannabis-related charges.
According to prosecutors, Jonathan Wall, now 27, and 10 others transported over 1,000 kilograms of cannabis from California to Maryland over a period of two years. Given those amounts, Maryland law defines him as a “drug kingpin.”
A federal grand jury indicted him in 2019. In the case of United States v. Wall, if convicted of “conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana,” Wall faces a sentence of up to 10 years to life in federal prison, with a mandatory 10-year sentence hovering over his head.
Today marks Wall’s first appearance in court, as he is confined to a federal supermax prison. The elephant in the room, however, is the fact that cannabis is legal for adult purposes in 18 states and several jurisdictions, and legal for medical reasons in dozens more.
On April 26, U.S. District Judge Stephanie Gallagher approved a motion by prosecutors calling for the court to bar any discussion of the cannabis legalization movement currently taking place across the United States, according to Outlaw Report.
In other words, the defense team is not to point out how hypocritical cannabis-related non-violent cases are in 2022, given the changes in law.
Prosecutors from the Justice Department filed the motion weeks ago requesting that the U.S. District Court of Maryland preclude Wall’s defense team “from asking questions, presenting evidence, or making arguments regarding the way the law in other jurisdictions treats marijuana.”
“Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance and under federal law, it is [a] crime to conspire with others to distribute or possess with the intent to distribute marijuana,” prosecutors wrote in the motion. “The fact that other jurisdictions have legalized marijuana, decriminalized marijuana, are considering decriminalization of certain quantities of marijuana, or have declined to prosecute individuals for crimes involving marijuana, is not relevant to the issues at this trial.”
The topic of legalization is irrelevant to the trial, the judge claims. The motion added that “evidence and argument of this sort is not relevant and should be excluded from this trial.”
Who is Jonathan Wall?
Andrew Ward profiled Wall for High Times Most Affected last year. “Everybody knows it’s federally illegal, but certainly not to that extent until they find themselves affected first-hand,” he stated. Wall was housed at the Chesapeake Detention Facility in Baltimore, known for its high level of violence. Is it really fair that one person has to weather extreme prison conditions for something that is now legal?
Wall’s lawyer, Jason Flores-Williams, a noted activist, agreed that the War on Drugs is a dead idea, and people are still paying the consequences because of it. It begs the question of whether or not it is fair for Wall and others to be among the last.
“There are so many people who dedicated and essentially donated their life to getting this plant to where it is today, on the verge of legalization,” Wall told Insider from inside jail. “Do I have to be the last person who is prosecuted for a product that’s making billions of dollars around the world?”
Federal authorities allege that Wall served as the “architect” of the program, when he was just a 20-year-old in Humboldt County. If Wall simply had a license to transport that amount, he wouldn’ve simply been a “distributor” in the world of legal cannabis. One piece of paper makes the difference between that and trafficking charges.
Read Wall’s own account of the alleged crimes. In it, Wall details how rape charges can yield less time in prison than the drug charges he is facing.
Wall tried to get the court to dismiss his case on geographic procedural grounds and again on equal protection grounds, given the arbitrary enforcement of the federal ban on cannabis, depending on the state.
Wall’s trial begins Monday morning in the U.S. District Courthouse in downtown Baltimore, Maryland. As of the time of writing, his petition on Change.org gained over 16,000 signatures.
Visit FreeJonathanWall.com to learn more about his ongoing case.