Cameron Douglas Facing 10 Year Mandatory Minimum Sentence

Actor Michael Douglas' son, Cameron Douglas, arrested July 28 at a New York hotel for a methamphetamine offense, could be facing some serious time.

The federal complaint against him was released yesterday. I'm not linking to it because it still says "sealed" on the court's docket. (You can find it on the internet.) It contains two charges, both of which carry ten year mandatory minimum sentences if convicted.

The first count charges him with conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of ICE since 2006. The second count charges the July, 2009 transaction and involved 215 grams of ICE. Any mixture containing over 50 grams of ICE carries a 10 year mandatory minimum sentence. The maximum penalty is life. [More..]

Ice is a form of meth often referred to as crystal meth. By statute, which refers to it as "actual meth", ICE is punished 10 times more severely than other forms of meth. The federal Sentencing Guidelines define "ice" as a mixture or substance containing d-methamphetamine hydrochloride of at least 80 percent purity. Unlike other methamphetamine mixtures, any quantity of "ice" is treated as meth-actual for Guidelines sentencing purposes.

The terms "PCP (actual)", "Amphetamine (actual)", and "Methamphetamine (actual)" refer to the weight of the controlled substance, itself, contained in the mixture or substance. For example, a mixture weighing 10 grams containing PCP at 50% purity contains 5 grams of PCP (actual). In the case of a mixture or substance containing PCP, amphetamine, or methamphetamine, use the offense level determined by the entire weight of the mixture or substance, or the offense level determined by the weight of the PCP (actual), amphetamine (actual), or methamphetamine (actual), whichever is greater.

E.g., 439.5 grams of mixture x 85.1% purity = 374 grams of actual methamphetamine.

As one federal court recently put it:

A defendant comes within that section in two possible ways. First, he may possess 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance that contains enough methamphetamine molecules that the methamphetamine is detectable.

Second, he may possess a substance or mixture that contains methamphetamine molecules whose total weight equals or exceeds 50 grams. When, as in this case, a chemist multiplies the weight of a substance or mixture by the percentage (by weight) of the substance that is composed of methamphetamine molecules (which could range from less than 1% to more than 99%), the chemist is computing the weight of the methamphetamine molecules in the substance or mixture. If that weight equals or exceeds 50 grams, then the defendant possessed 50 or more grams of methamphetamine and is subject to punishment under § 841(b)(1)(A)(viii).

The chemical analysis of Douglas' July, 2009 transaction was 215 grams of actual d-meth, or ICE.

The complaint relies upon three informants, consensually recorded phone calls, intercepted phone calls and lots of fedex and other records. One deal, in May, 2007, allegedly involved 3 pounds of Ice. Another of the informants says Douglas sold him multiple pounds in 2006, 2007 and 2009.

What's odd is that Douglas seems to have disappeared. There's no entry on the docket for a bond hearing or court appearance. Three lawyers have entered their appearance for him. Neither the lawyers nor the feds will comment.

According to Reuters, he appeared in court the day after his arrest. But no further court hearing was set. Even when proceedings are sealed, there's a notation on the docket to a sealed document.

Did he get special treatment by being allowed to enter a private residential drug treatment program after his arrest but before charges were filed against him? It seems to me the Government would seek pre-trial detention for anyone else charged with these offenses.

Maybe they are cleaning Douglas up or protecting him so he can help the DEA bust his suppliers to get out from under the mandatory minimum sentence.

I'll be very surprised if he's convicted and gets no time at all. Even with cooperation, and a famous last name, it's hard to go from a 10 year mandatory minimum down to probation.

The larger question is whether anyone should get a minimum of 10 years in prison for a non-violent drug offense? And whether we should be adding years to a sentence based on purity levels of a drug?

I feel sorry for Cameron Douglas and his parents. Barring an outright acquittal at trial, his options are few and an outcome involving some prison time seems pretty certain. He's a user who sold more than he needed to in order to supply his own needs, but nonetheless, a user. Treatment is a better alternative than prison.

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    What a Waste of Taxpayer $$$ (none / 0) (#1)
    by squeaky on Fri Aug 07, 2009 at 06:17:06 PM EST
    This should be treated as a medical issue. Mandatory sentences should go the way of the dodo. What are judges for anyway?

    Well, I'd agree (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Fabian on Fri Aug 07, 2009 at 07:00:34 PM EST
    if we had mandatory medical treatments.

    Addiction is not pretty, and meth is a particularly unhealthy drug to be addicted to.  The problem with addiction is that free will and self determination don't really exist.  If an addict is given a choice to use an addiction or rehab program, they may well choose not to.

    If it was only their lives they were ruining, it wouldn't be an issue.  What if they are parents and choose to feed their addiction over feeding their kids?


    OMG (none / 0) (#10)
    by Rojas on Fri Aug 07, 2009 at 07:30:33 PM EST
    What if they were addicted to alcohol?

    Why not? (none / 0) (#12)
    by Fabian on Fri Aug 07, 2009 at 07:41:56 PM EST
    Sure, the brewers and distillers would lobby up a storm - but why shouldn't alcoholics have mandatory rehab and addiction programs too?  We'd have to include tobacco.  

    Naturally, there would a huge lobbying effort to keep certain products from being stigmatized as addictive and unhealthy, but I'm sure our lawmakers could deal with them. </snarkity snark snark!>


    What side (none / 0) (#19)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 05:56:42 AM EST
    would the Kennedys be on?

    I'd think they'd (none / 0) (#22)
    by Fabian on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 06:16:41 AM EST
    be on the mandatory treatment side.  They've seen first hand the damage alcoholism causes.  I'd think they'd want to prevent others from going through those experiences.

    Yeah but their (none / 0) (#26)
    by Wile ECoyote on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 07:45:12 AM EST
    fortune is based on importing Alcohol.

    Who will treat the people he distributed to? (none / 0) (#2)
    by DFLer on Fri Aug 07, 2009 at 06:36:14 PM EST
    Hopefully Not The Police (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by squeaky on Fri Aug 07, 2009 at 06:55:48 PM EST
    And the Criminal injustice system. One would hope that the people you feel sorry for would be treated in the same way as I would hope Cameron Douglas be treated, that is treated by the medical community.

    I don't feel sorry for anyone in particular (none / 0) (#33)
    by DFLer on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 09:58:39 PM EST
    I only mean to point out that Douglas is/may be not just an addict, but also a distributor. Is that a "victimless" crime?

    I don't even think its a crime... (none / 0) (#40)
    by kdog on Mon Aug 10, 2009 at 10:16:07 AM EST
    to sell a substance to willing customers.

    My pal Fabian might say they aren't "willing" if their addicts, but I don't buy that.  A person is not only responsible for themselves, but their addictions too.

    As someone familar with addiction in the family, nobody knows better than me how it ain't pretty...but chains and cages only add more hurt.


    I get your point about personal responsibility (none / 0) (#44)
    by DFLer on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 07:42:24 AM EST
    ....but as far as the seller, again, what about someone selling or providing alcohol to minors? Is that also not a crime?

    If I were certain the meth Douglas sold/ (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Fri Aug 07, 2009 at 06:38:09 PM EST
    transported/distributed did not reach minors I would be inclined to agree.  Seen two many young people who were hangers on to meth sellers/mfg.  Very messed up.

    My niece got caught up in it young (none / 0) (#4)
    by nycstray on Fri Aug 07, 2009 at 06:49:44 PM EST
    Not sure how much she was using, but her friends sure were. She's cleaned up and on the right track now, thank dawg.

    I want to know why they didn't stop him in 2006? 3yrs they let this go on?


    Your niece is quite fortunate. (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Fri Aug 07, 2009 at 06:58:18 PM EST
    Yes she is. (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by nycstray on Fri Aug 07, 2009 at 07:11:56 PM EST
    And we are all grateful. Took a couple shots at rehab, but she was young and has been clean long enough to get her life back on track, It also helped that she was diagnosed as mildly bi-polar and was able to get treated for that also. Made a big difference. She's gotten her GED, graduated a couple weeks ago from a certificate program in healthcare (she likes the eldercare) and is currently working as a vet tech and planning more schooling. She's also going to be a mom around New Years :) She's always had a really good work ethic and drive (even when she was messed up!), and I think that helped also once she got cleaned up. My sister wasn't much of a mom, so she's been pretty used to the "real" world and knows ya gotta do what ya gotta do to get by.

    dingdingding (none / 0) (#9)
    by Fabian on Fri Aug 07, 2009 at 07:29:24 PM EST
    Bipolar disorder - one the disorders that puts people at risk for drug use, abuse and addiction.

    I'm glad she's getting treated now.

    I really need to look up the studies for how much more at risk people with various disorders are.  Some of the numbers are really eye opening.


    And family history (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by nycstray on Fri Aug 07, 2009 at 07:51:22 PM EST
    We have addicts throughout our history and also on her father's side. We also have depression (although it may have been my dad's early Parkinson's that caused it) and my sister (her mom) also has issues. Getting her treated for bi-polar really did help in the final turnaround. My mom (who she lives with) said that she talked about how she would just be wired for days (not on drugs) and then just kinda crash. And I remember my mom calling me and saying she was acting "edgy" etc. And that's when she would fall off the program. She couldn't handle the ups and downs. Regular health care would have more than likely picked that up. Once she got back to even keel, she's been just the joy that we always knew her as. As family, we couldn't pick up on the bi-polar when it was coupled with addiction (and her teens/young adult hood, lol!~). She's 27 now and has been "stable" for quite some time. And now that she knows what causes her instability, I think she has a much better handle on life.

    They really need to start treating these cases. Putting her in Juvie did nothing for her. Drug and mental health treatment did.


    ICE (none / 0) (#11)
    by killer on Fri Aug 07, 2009 at 07:31:57 PM EST
    this has been said to be a lot worse than crack. I am of two minds on this as I am usually very libertarian in my position on drug laws. I have seen a lot of damage to whole communities from ICE. It was said that in Hawaii, where small, isolated communities are very cloes-knit, entire teen populatins have become addicted in very short periods. I have heard of addict-cops doing their drugs and having sex with 14-year old girls.

    Point is that I think of this one as much worse than any drug I have been around.

    Having said that, what happens to users is sad and deserves pity and help.

    I think (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by MrConservative on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 05:07:25 AM EST
    That meth is one of the few drugs we should probably hand out prison sentences to minor dealers for.  It's a very bad drug.

    It's a stimulant not very different (none / 0) (#29)
    by andgarden on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 09:24:49 AM EST
    from the amphetamines Americans have used for decades. You can even get it by prescription (it's used to treat obesity and ADD).

    But it has a high potential for abuse, and it's dangerous to make. The biggest problem with street meth is probably the size of the dose people start with, and the way they take it.


    I was around it alot back in the days.... (none / 0) (#14)
    by Rojas on Fri Aug 07, 2009 at 08:22:17 PM EST
    I believe we were rated the #1 county in Texas at one time for the amount of meth that passed through. Somewhat rural and close to Dallas/Ft. Worth.

    I've had many a friend battle with meth. The ones most damaged by it, in my experience, were the one's who went to jail.


    Hi neighbor... (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by JamesTX on Fri Aug 07, 2009 at 11:27:02 PM EST
    I lived there for a while!

    My position is across the board legalization for all drugs, primarily because of what happens in little places like the one we know about. I think the government there has held up pretty well, but it has come under serious assault. In some places, the good guys loose and the whole county government gets sucked into the business. That's when people start disappearing, the cops become killers, and bodies are never found.

    The problem is, with that stuff, the profits are unimaginable  -- due only to contraband laws. The stuff technically isn't worth a dollar a pound without the laws.  It can be manufactured in hidden rural labs with cheap materials, and it sells for big fat bags of bucks. The result is, dairy farmers and others who are put out of the economy by the changing fortunes of time can switch to it and become millionaires in a few months. They can keep their land and build luxurious compounds, support large families living large lifestyles, and generally be much better off than they were...milking.  Since they are family-connected and their roots run deep in the counties, they can form coalitions and use the money to take over the flimsy little county governments. Then suddenly you have large areas controlled by what most people would call organized crime.

    The prospect of amphetamine is the most troublesome part of my position on legalization. I struggle with the idea. When I say I favor overall legalization, I always think of that, and I know it is a tough call. That stuff is poison, and it hurts kids before they know it. I still think the cost/benefit comes out in favor of legalization, though. Most of the danger of it is the way it effects nervous systems and causes paranoia, so that when you mix that with the looming threat of Draconian punishment, people go homicidal. They would likely go mad anyway, but they wouldn't be as likely to kill people at the drop of a hat if getting caught wasn't the equivalent of death.


    Sleep deprivation psychosis (none / 0) (#21)
    by Fabian on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 06:13:50 AM EST
    My sister lives in SC.  A dealer down there became paranoid, kept himself up on ICE for over two days and then shot & killed his wife and children.  He went right around the bend, that much is sure - but he didn't kill any cops, just his family.

    I think it's easy to tell who the victims were that time.  (The wife called my sister at least once during those two days.)


    As it is now (none / 0) (#34)
    by JamesTX on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 11:02:08 PM EST
    it is sold by dangerous characters in unlabeled containers.


    Another thing I have thought of with regard to legalization is licensing use, the way we license other dangerous activities like driving, flying, and wiring houses. The process of getting the license would involve training on dangers and how to recognize and avert disaster.

    Most people laugh at me on that one, but it actually makes a whole lot of sense. Drug peddlers also peddle disinformation about their products, and many problems could be averted if people strung out on speed understood what was wrong with them.

    I don't downplay the tragedies you refer to. What I am saying is that we can find similar tragedies in almost all activities and all settings. To say that this kind of behavior is exclusively the result of drugs is just not correct.


    Here's a little ditty you could apreciate (none / 0) (#25)
    by Rojas on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 07:34:39 AM EST
    "He tried to miss 'em... (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by JamesTX on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 11:12:30 PM EST
    ...but he didn't, quite." I love it!

    On a different note, those who think amphetamine was part of the 60s hippie movement and drug culture are confused. I have noticed a lot people nowadays really don't understand that history, and they combine categories and groups in their minds in ways that conceal what was actually going on. That leads to a lot of misunderstanding about drugs and drug culture in general, and I suspect it is intentional drug war propaganda to create fear.

    Amphetamine use and distribution has always been associated with violent gangs and organized crime. It is a violent drug used by violent people. It is a "high energy" drug. It is not associated with "liberal" thought and peaceful lifestyles, historically or otherwise.

    The "hippie" movement didn't involve motorcycles and amphetamine. The "mainstream" youth culture of that day was primarily into pot and LSD. In fact, they had a popular mantra: SPEED KILLS.

    The summer of love in San Francisco was actually broken up and disbursed by motorcycle gangs (Hells' Angels) who arrived on the scene late and started distributing amphetamine. Their purpose was to break it up, and they did!


    That would be "dispersed" (none / 0) (#36)
    by JamesTX on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 11:17:37 PM EST
    of course. I guess that is better than Marshall Law.

    I take exception to this statement (none / 0) (#38)
    by Rojas on Mon Aug 10, 2009 at 08:18:46 AM EST
    Amphetamine use and distribution has always been associated with violent gangs and organized crime. It is a violent drug used by violent people. It is a "high energy" drug. It is not associated with "liberal" thought and peaceful lifestyles, historically or otherwise.


    Your article is on medicinal use (none / 0) (#39)
    by sj on Mon Aug 10, 2009 at 09:34:51 AM EST
    Where JamesTx's comment referred to recreational use.

    There's no conflict.


    Yes, I am (none / 0) (#42)
    by JamesTX on Mon Aug 10, 2009 at 11:20:04 PM EST
    talking about illicit use. It was a medical "wonder drug" for a few years, and some physicians, as always, held on to that attitude long after the abuse potential and dangers were recognized. As far as a street drug or recreational drug, I still think it is generally associated with violence and mania. It has also played a big role in serving as a "work drug" for lower socioeconomic classes, enabling people to work long hours to earn more money. The issues of violence and such overlap there, also, for other reasons. I am not saying the drug causes violence (which it probably does), or that violent culture prefers the drug (which may be true also). I am saying it is associated with it. Big difference.

    Your father's Oldsmobile (none / 0) (#43)
    by Rojas on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 05:50:48 AM EST
    and, meaning no disrespect to the ladies here, your grandfather's Oldsmobile. The point being, there was little illicit amphetamine manufacture prior to the Drug Abuse Control Amendments of 1965 because there was a safe and economical supply readily available. One didn't even need a prescription to acquire it until 1954.
    The violent gangs you referred to, Hell's Angels ending the summer of love, were granted a monopoly that could not/did not exist prior to the legislation. It's a little like arguing, during the height of prohibition that alcohol use and distribution has always been associated with violent gangs and organized crime.

    Quoting from the The Swedish experience

    In the middle of the 1940s, [Professor Inghe continues,] it became obvious that misuse of central stimulants was now taking shape in gangs on [a] collective basis, at first especially among Bohemians, writers, actors, musicians and other artists and their sycophants and admirers.

    The Table of Contents for The Consumers Union Report  - Licit and Illicit Drugs from 1972
    A pretty good perspective IMHO


    Arguing association (none / 0) (#47)
    by JamesTX on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 02:53:22 PM EST
    is not the same as arguing causation, and an association could exist for precisely the reasons you specify. Things can be associated for three reasons. The first thing causes the second, the second causes the first, or some third (probably unknown) thing causes both of them. In most matters of this type, the third explanation is the best bet. I do not entirely dismiss the third explanation, which is precisely your argument.

    I do think the drug has some dangers that go beyond what most drugs do, but I have weighed in that those things are quite probably over-rated, effected by propaganda, and result to a large extent from policy.

    My position, as I said, is that the best policy is legalization. That is, I see those hazards that concern me as shrinking in the face of harm done by the laws.

    I am aware of the history of amphetamine. That makes it interesting from the point of view of looking at what it was like before and after. I had actually never considered that it may be an historical effect of the type you propose. That is, market conditions were just right at a specific time for a specific type of organization to take over the market.

    Whenever a substance creates a state of mind that is clinically indistinguishable from paranoid schizophrenia, though, I think some amount of caution is in order. Of course, that claim is a classical textbook line that is taught to mental health and medical trainees, and I am not sure it is even possible to have really good evidence to that effect. Horror claims about illicit drugs are generally accepted without evidence in our culture, so stories like that can propagate for years as "scientific fact" before someone finds out that it is a severely flawed conclusion.

    I know the most harm is done by the context of the laws. In fact, I have said that I think it is the combination of the way in which the drug irritates the nervous system and the threat of Draconian consequences which actually lead to the problem.

    I don't remember any Oldsmobile. Can you explain that one to me?


    A question. (none / 0) (#16)
    by lentinel on Fri Aug 07, 2009 at 11:55:58 PM EST
    If someone sells crystal meth to someone - and that person dies from it -is it a non-violent offense?

    If your question (none / 0) (#17)
    by JamesTX on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 04:04:22 AM EST
    is technical, IANAL, but my first guess is not. It is probably just as bad or worse, though, in terms of the laws that are available to prosecute them with and the penalties they could receive.

    If your question is rhetorical, the answer is no, also. Our society is full of people who get killed one way or another with things other people have sold them. Most of the time, we would never dream of placing blame on whoever sold them what they killed themselves with. The idea of caveat emptor runs deep in American reasoning about such things.


    Product liability laws. (none / 0) (#20)
    by Fabian on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 06:07:14 AM EST
    The reason that doctors write prescriptions is that pharmaceuticals may have serious and even damaging effects.  We use gatekeepers to put the drugs into the hands of people who need their therapeutic benefits.  Read up on adverse effects and potential drug interactions to find out what therapeutic drugs can do to you.

    If we legalized drugs across the board, with prescription, then we'd have to hold the manufacturers liable for any damages the drugs cause.  If we legalized all drugs, but only with prescriptions, then the doctors would be held liable.

    Drugs have predictable effects.  We can't overlook that.  We don't.  We wrote laws on what the legal blood alcohol level is for a driver.  That's science (and politics).  Legal just means we wouldn't lock up the users for using.  We could lock them up for using drugs unsafely(DUI), or for giving drugs to minors.  It wouldn't get rid of employment drug testing either.  (We could ask MilitaryTracy for her opinion on that!)


    I was wondering about legalization. (none / 0) (#23)
    by lentinel on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 06:33:55 AM EST
    You wrote: "We use gatekeepers to put the drugs into the hands of people who need their therapeutic benefits."
    In the case of Douglas, he made himself the "gatekeeper", something he is not qualified to do.

    I believe in legalization. Then we could, as you say, hold the manufacturer responsible for damages or defects in the product.
    Consumers could also be clearly warned of the dangers of ingestion.
    I don't follow your statement that a physician prescribing a drug and advising her/his patient of the possible dangers and side effects would be held responsible.

    But, as one who favors legalization, this is a quandary.

    I do know that the current system seems to me to be more dangerous - placing consumers in the hands of people who are desperate or unprincipled or both.


    A further thought. (none / 0) (#24)
    by lentinel on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 07:06:10 AM EST
    JamesTX remarks in his post below, that in the case of this particular drug, the effects induce homicidal tendencies. In your post below, Fabian, you also refer to homicide resulting from paranoia heightened by the use of this drug.

    So what do we do?

    For this drug, it would seem as if legalization might not be a viable alternative.


    All things in moderation (none / 0) (#27)
    by Rojas on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 08:07:35 AM EST
    Tell that to an addict. (none / 0) (#31)
    by Fabian on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 02:01:00 PM EST
    Tell that to anyone who has an altered perception of reality because of the very drugs they are using.

    Tell that to anyone who has tried to convince someone they aren't sober enough to drive.  "I'm FINE!"


    As I said before (none / 0) (#32)
    by Rojas on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 03:35:29 PM EST
    I have several close friends who struggled with meth addiction and probably at least a couple score more that were close or friends at one time. Three decades have passed. I stand by my statement. It has been my observation that the ones with the most damage are the ones we sent to prison.

    We have a lot of addicts in this country and more than enough dysfunction to go around. Our major malfunction at this particular time seems to be the irrational idea that throwing people who need our help in prison to be raped and brutalized is going to help them.

    I recall back in the 90s some health professionals signing on to this idea. It seems they were of a mind that hitting bottom was generally a turning point for people with substance abuse problems so it was society's duty to help them get to the bottom. This was when the prison nation really got in gear. Madness.


    People who have social support (none / 0) (#37)
    by Fabian on Sun Aug 09, 2009 at 06:36:15 AM EST
    will do best.

    Prisons don't provide that - but society doesn't necessarily provide that either.

    Your close friends had you.  What about all the others who didn't have close friends, or had friends who didn't have the time, money or energy to be a counselor, rehab therapist, parent or custodian?

    Prisons aren't the answer - but what is?  Trusting to the kindness of strangers?  


    "sold more than he needed" (none / 0) (#28)
    by diogenes on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 08:38:36 AM EST
    He allegedly sold POUNDS, not grams, of meth.  He's not a small time user who used some and sold the rest.
    Selling POUNDS of meth is big-time dealing, if it is proven, not small-time using.
    It remains to be seen if the defendant was an addict or simply someone who sold the drug for big money while possibly using it recreationally. You don't have to be an addict to deal or use drugs.

    There aren't a whole lot of people who use ICE (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by allimom99 on Sat Aug 08, 2009 at 09:57:39 AM EST
    'recreationally.' That's the quandary for those of us who do favor legalization. It's highly addictive, and the side effects are hideous.

    I don't see the quandary.... (none / 0) (#41)
    by kdog on Mon Aug 10, 2009 at 10:22:35 AM EST
    to see a quandary somebody would have to show me how prison and prohibition kept one person off that nasty meth sh*t.

    From my view, everybody who wants it is getting it...why waste all this money on prison we could be spending on rehab and maybe help somebody... instead of piling on the misery.


    a few observations (none / 0) (#45)
    by Bemused on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:28:51 AM EST
      500+ grams SINCE 1996 is not necessarily indicative  of large or even medium scale dealing. Without knowing more specifically the amount the government seeks to attribute to the conspiracy, over that length of that time it may well be a pattern of smaller transactions. the 550 or more grams language is just "boilerplate" inserted to trigger the highest mandatory minimum and it could be a 500 g case alleged or any amount above that.

      215 grams in a single transaction is a fairly large transaction. Counts charging specific transactions are very often (usually) either controlled buys (undercover agent or CI buying from the person) or reverse stings (undercover agent or informant selling to the person). In either instance it is not uncommon for a person to be enticed to engaging in a significantly larger transaction than his norm.

      Also, Douglas' family is obviously quite wealthy which raises several possibilities. One he might be able to afford to buy much larger amounts than a typical user and use most of it and just distribute small amounts to close friends, so he might not be selling  for financial gain (not that this would be a defense per se but it would be a significant sentencing factor.)

      Second, it's possible that his family did not give him money either because of knowledge he was using it on drugs or simply because it believes he should be independent at his age. That would make it more likely that he was selling significant quantities.

      Third, some people are just attracted to the danger -- not just of using dangerous drugs but of being a "player" in the "drug underworld." I have numerous clients who did  not really need the money and even some who could have afforded to buy retail who got involved in fairly large drug dealing. It might be a bad analogy, but some people are compulsive risk takers such as compulsive gamblers or people who engage in risky sexual behaviors, etc.

      Finally, although "Ice"  is treated more harshly than less pure meth mixtures, I'm not convinced that the lower purity meth is not more dangerous. The lower purity results from failure incomplete synythesis of the constituent ingredients resulting from poor equipment and sloppy amateur "chemists" resulting in only partial chemical reactions and imperfect physical separation of precipitates. etc.

    Google up the raw ingredients for making meth (solvents, caustics and other nasty stuff in addition to the pseudephedrine) and those might be more toxic than the actual drug over the long term.

    typos (none / 0) (#46)
    by Bemused on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:39:15 AM EST
     that sould be siince 2006 but the point that it is not necessearily a large amount when spread over 3 years remains the same.

      and, I meant to type 500 grams not 550.