Drugs for Sale or Personal Use? Judge Determines Jury Should Decide at Trial

By Sofia Leguria

MODESTO, CA – A preliminary examination was held Friday here in Stanislaus County Superior Court for John Luis, facing six charges ranging from health and safety code violations, to vehicle code violations, to felony burglary in the second degree.

Luis allegedly stole and ransacked a trailer and was later found on Dec. 30, 2021, with 73.46 grams of methamphetamine.

The main debate in court was if 73.46 grams was an amount that warranted possession with intent to sell, a more serious charge.

The witness that was called to testify was Deputy Justin Wall, who said, “As a K9 handler my former K9 partner was a dual purpose dog, meaning that he was also certified in narcotic detection. So as a patrol K9 officer I also worked with a narcotics certified K9 who aided us in several investigations related to narcotics.”

Deputy District Attorney Timothy Keaton asked him a series of questions about the drugs, and Wall noted that, while the amount was “usable” it’s much more than what users would normally use, and that it’s an amount used for sales.

“The amount of methamphetamines that you recovered on Dec. 30, 2021, could you pick it up?”

“Based on my training and experience the average user will purchase somewhere around a gram or even less depending on what they can afford at the time,” explained Wall.

He added, “The amount of presumed methamphetamine that was located, along with the digital scales and the notebook, which I believe to be a pay out sheet documenting illegal narcotic transactions, is that Mr. Luis was in possession of methamphetamine with the intent to sell.”

When under cross-examination Wall did clarify that his testimony regarding how much meth the average user buys or uses for personal use was based on his own training and conversations with addicts.

The defense claimed that sometimes drug users develop a tolerance for the drug that results in them having to use more of the drug to achieve the same amount of high.

Wall agreed and stated, “With narcotics such as methamphetamine there are several different potency levels, as far as how the drug is manufactured. A lot of times with methamphetamine especially at the street level it will be cut with other products that are found around your household. So the potency levels could vary depending on how much it is cut with.”

Wall added, “Even the user themselves will not really know how potent the drug is until they have used it and received the high from the narcotic.”

In the end, Deputy Wall stated that in his training he has never seen an average user be in possession of 73.46 grams for a single day’s use, and that amount would usually take a user seven to 10 days to use.

The court found probable cause to move forward to trial. Arraignment is set for March 18.

About The Author

Sofia is a third year undergraduate student at University of California, Davis. She is a Managerial Economics major and pursuing a minor in Communications and Professional Writing. She plans on attending law school after graduation in 2023. In her free time she likes to play with her rescue dog named Harvey!

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