It might not be Santa's sleigh, but there was a whole lot of holly-jolly traveling from California to Vermont just in time for the holidays. The cannabis capers at fault weren't notorious bandits or big-time criminals trying to push their product across state lines for profit; instead, Patrick Jiron, 80, and his wife Barbara, 70, insist that their cargo was instead intended to be a load of Christmas presents.
After 1,500 miles and 24 hours of travel from Clearlake Oaks, California to York County, Nebraska, Jiron's Toyota Tacoma caught the attention of sheriff's deputies when the vehicle failed to signal and drove over the road's center dividing line. The officer pulled the couple over and noticed a strong smell of marijuana emitting from the truck. Curious, Jiron was questioned regarding the familiar odor and openly admitted to having contraband in the vehicle, consenting to a search.
Officers then called the county's adorable canine unit, Dundee, in to help search the truck where they uncovered 60 pounds of marijuana packaged in bags and a container of Cheese Balls. In addition to the plant, the officers also confiscated processed product, including containers described as "concentrated THC."
"[The couple] said the marijuana was for Christmas presents," said Lt. Paul Vrbk in an interview with the York News-Times. Insinuating that it would be quite the expensive Christmas present, the Sherrif's department valued the marijuana at over $336,000.
Marijuana isn't exactly illegal in Nebraska; however, the state requires that a dealer (defined as any person who owns six or more ounces of cannabis, seven or more grams of any controlled substance, or over ten "dosage units" of any unweighted substance) possess a tax stamp. Under this law, the Jirons would have been responsible for around $96,000 in Nebraskan taxes, or $100 per ounce of cannabis, as well as applicable rates for any product they are in possession of while in state lines. Any containers holding a regulated amount of cannabis or processed product must include a tax stamped purchased from Nebraskan regulators no older than 180 days of issuance. No word on the regulation if your car is completely made from cannabis, either.
We attempted to reach out to the York County Sheriff Department for clarification on this law and how it affects non-residents passing over state lines. However, they did not have the resources to provide us with any additional details at the time of writing.
Patrick Jiron now faces felony possession with intent to deliver charges as well as not possessing applicable drug tax stamps. His wife, Barbara, was not jailed but instead fined "due to some medical issues.” Patrick Jiron posted 10 percent of his $100,000 bond and has been released from custody.
Cannabis is becoming a lot more welcomed in the mainstream communities, but not every state (or every person) is on board just quite yet. Without some form of regulation, it's clear that business would go fairly wild on their ideas of dispensing the product, and governments just aren't ready to take that on. Besides, 60 pounds of the good stuff may have been a little overkill for stocking-stuffers anyway.