July 24, 2024

Archie Wertheim

Technology Integration and Foundations for Effective Leadership

Oklahoma Man Gets 9 Years in Prison for Moving Weed in Fake Amazon Van

2 min read
Oklahoma Man Gets 9 Years in Prison for Moving Weed in Fake Amazon Van

A man in Oklahoma City who used a fake Amazon van to transport pot has been sentenced to nine years in federal prison, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). And it’s a great reminder that while enormous industries have sprung up to sell cannabis for recreational use in nearly half of U.S. states, people can still get serious prison time if they’re caught with weed in the other half.

Brandon Ye, 43, used a van made to look like an Amazon delivery vehicle, picking up vacuum-sealed packages of weed from licensed cannabis growing facilities across Oklahoma, where medical cannabis is legal but recreational use is not. From there, Ye would move the packages to warehouses in Oklahoma before they would be transported out of state for sale, according to the DOJ.

Ye helped ship about 28 tons of weed out of Oklahoma before being arrested in December 2022, according to the DOJ. Ye pleaded guilty to possessing pot with the intent to distribute the drug and to possessing a firearm while distributing the drug. Both of those things are still illegal under federal law, despite the fact that President Joe Biden is currently working to reclassify cannabis from a Schedule I drug in the class of LSD and heroin to a Schedule III drug like ketamine.

Even after the DEA’s planned rescheduling, pot will still be considered a controlled substance and it’s not clear how aggressively federal authorities will pursue interstate drug commerce like the case that brought Ye such a harsh sentence.

U.S. District Judge Scott L. Palk handed down Ye’s sentence on June 20, reportedly making a big deal of the “vast amount of marijuana transported by Ye during his clandestine operation.” Notably, the DOJ never alleged that Ye committed any violent acts. He simply moved a lot of weed around and carried a gun while doing it. Oklahoma gun laws allow for anyone over the age of 21 to carry a firearm without a permit, so the only reason Ye was charged with carrying a gun was due to the fact he was also transporting cannabis.

Today, Americans look back at the era of alcohol prohibition during the 1920s and laugh at how ridiculous it was for federal authorities to criminalize moving alcohol, no matter how “vast” the amount. With any luck, people of the future will look back on 2024 with the same perspective, given the fact that most Americans already believe in the complete decriminalization of weed.

As it stands today, just 10% of Americans believe weed shouldn’t be legal in any way, according to Pew Research, with 59% saying it should be legal for both medical and recreational use. But people like Ye can still get locked up for nearly a decade just for moving pot around.

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