Last month, the Salt Lake Tribune published an interesting story describing the high number of federal drug possession convictions which occur each year in the state of Utah. The majority of these federal drug crimes occur on public lands. Last year alone, over 165 people in Utah were charged with drug possession on federal lands, mostly in the big state parks such as Moab, Zion, Bryce, etc. Of those 165 individuals, 145 were charged with simple marijuana possession and more than half of those people were from out of state. Last year there were a total of 465 convictions for drug possession on public lands nationwide. Utah alone made up about one third of the total convictions across the nation. So what is it about Utah that leads to the high number of drug charges in national parks each year? We provide a few thoughts on the subject below:
There are a couple of primary reasons why Utah for the last couple years handed out more federal marijuana convictions in national parks than any other state. First, we have a lot of National Parks and federal lands that bring a lot of people here every year. Thousands of people flock to our national parks each year, unfortunately for some, many leave with marijuana citations. Second, Utah is right in between 2 very pot friendly states. While Utah is certainly not known as a marijuana progressive state, it sits between two of the most pot friendly states in the country, Colorado and California. As a result, Utah gets a lot of people from California and Colorado coming through or hanging out at any number of the many national parks the state has to offer. A lot of the people being charged are younger, college aged adults who are visiting on a school break. Many of the people charged are either lawfully able to smoke marijuana in their home state or have marijuana prescriptions. Colorado colleges students from the Denver and surrounding areas have a relatively short drive to Moab. Finally, Utah aggressively prosecutes these types of crimes. While some U.S. attorney offices throughout the country may pass on many simple possession cases, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah prosecutes many.
If you or someone you know was charged with marijuana or other drug possession on federal land in Utah, call and speak to a Utah Federal Criminal Defense Attorney at our office today. We have helped numerous individuals charged in Moab, Zion National Park, Glen Canyon, and other federal areas.