Sometimes my day begins with a headline that makes me both sad and hungry: Police arrest 2 men, find 24 pounds of marijuana outside In-N-Out. Unfortunately, it turns out to be another Stupid Prohibition Story. To make this a teachable moment, I will count the stupid and use sarcasm to inform and entertain in footnotes.
It seems these two dudes, Stephen and Trevor, had twenty-four one pound bags of marijuana in their BMW parked at an In-N-Out Burger1 in Glendale.
So as this cop pulls into the parking lot of this In-N-Out (eager for a Double Double with fries and a side-order of Scripture, I presume) he notices Stephen smoking cigarettes, hanging out with Trevor and a third dude right by the front door of the In-N-Out2. That is a violation of the city’s ordinance banning smoking within ten feet of a public entrance3.
As the cop approaches Stephen, Trevor and the other dude walk away from him4. As the cop talks to Stephen, he sees Trevor putting something inside the passenger door5.
Stephen explains to the cop he’s from outside the area and didn’t know he couldn’t smoke there6. And, oh yeah, he’s on parole, he has medical marijuana on him, and he doesn’t know who those other two dudes are7.
The cop then talks to Trevor and the other dude who say they arrived at the In-N-Out with Stephen8. Trevor then tells the cop he’s only got a small amount of marijuana in the car and he can go ahead and search it9.
In the trunk, the cop finds a locked plastic bin containing the 24 one pound packages of marijuana10. The BMW was impounded and Stephen and Trevor went to jail (the third dude was released).
1) An In-N-Out Burger?!? What, was Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot full? Maybe you could stage your next two dozen pound deal at Billy Joe’s Discount Cop Gear’s parking lot. Here’s a thought… you know where dudes hanging around outside cars in public parking lots doesn’t raise an eyebrow and rarely sees police stopping by to pick something up mid-shift? An auto parts store!
2) Naw, man, customers inside the burger joint known for a) Christian Scripture on its cartons and cups, b) very fast service, and c) lots of foot traffic in addition to drive-thru guests are never going to notice or be offended by second hand smoke while they enter, eat, and exit. Your low profile two dozen pound deal is still a “go”.
3) Of course it is. This is California. There are cities where you damn near can’t even smoke outside. Remember Steinborn’s Rule: Only break one law at a time!
4) I presume they were whistling nonchalantly as they walked away.
5) Because walking away as a cop approaches means they will pay no attention to you.
6) Not to be too hard on Stephen, but don’t make chit chat with cops that establishes facts they don’t already know. “Hello, officer. What, I’m smoking too close to an entrance? Oh.” And then you put out the cigarette. “Not from around here” leads to “why are you here?”
7) I take it back, let’s be hard on Stephen. You’re on parole and you’re making two dozen pound deals in an In-N-Out parking lot? And then you tell a cop you’re holding? Well, it’s a good thing those other two dudes walking away from you won’t arouse the suspicion of the cop who might ask them a bunch of questions.
8) What?!? Who could have guessed that cops would separate people in a criminal investigation and question them to see if everyone’s story matches up? A lawyer friend of mine (good friends to have, by the way) has a hat that reads “NOBODY TALKS – EVERYBODY WALKS”.
9) “Just whatever you do, don’t look in the locked plastic bin in the trunk. It doesn’t have any marijuana in it.”
10) “Curses! And we would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for this super sleuth from the Glendale Police Department!”