Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Don't Bogart That Joint

The law meets popular culture [pdf] in a marijuana case.

The Commonwealth has argued that the use of the word "selling" in the second paragraph of $ 32L, which word is not found elsewherein G.L. c.94C, evidences that the offense of possession with intent to distribute when applied to quantities of marihuana less than one ounce continues to be unlawful. According to this argument", the use of the term 'selling' . . . was intended to refer to the sale of marihuana in the broader sense i.e., distribution and possession with intent to distribute marihuana."( Memorandumin Support of the Commonwealth's Motion To Reconsidera t p. 6.) For the following reasons the Court rejectst his argument. As portrayed in popular culture, the personal use of marihuana is often a shared, communal experience. For example, the late 60's not quite classic tune, "Don't Bogart That Joint",' (Lyrics by Lawrence Wagner and music by Elliot Ingber) contains the chorus:

Don't bogart that joint my friend
Pass it over to me
Don't bogart that joint my friend
Pass it over to me.

The somewhat closer to a classic 1966 Bob Dylan song, "Rainy Day Women No. 12 &35" includes the recurring refrain, "They'll stone ya when . . ."2 In the world of film, "Easy Rider", a 1969 release included a scene in which the characters portrayed by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson sit around a campfire sharing marihuana cigarettes passing the cigarettes between themselves. The 1970 film "Woodstock" which documented the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Festival, includes many scenes of concert-goer sharing what is identified as marihuana by passing marihuana cigarettes and other smoking implements to one another. [n 2004, one of the so-called" stoner" films, "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" features an opening scene in which the protagonistss hare marihuana then head to a White Castle restaurant. More recently, in March 2009 an episode of the NBC drama" Parenthood", which follows the triumphs and travails of the fictional Braverman family, included a scene in which one adult family member held up a bag of marihuana confiscated from his adolescendt daughter( not in her presence). The girl's uncle grabs the bag, saying that they should see what his niece has been up to and rolls a marihuana cigarette which he and the other adults then share, passing it from one to another. Based on these cultural references which have endured and been repeated for more than 40 years, the court understands that the use of marihuana commonly includes sharing the drug amongst several users.
I wonder where the judge went to college. I wonder when he went to college.

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