Sacramento, CA – On Monday recreational marijuana use will be legal in California, but that won’t stop federal agents from busting individuals on busy freeways and backcountry highways — even in tiny amounts.
It is a reminder that state and federal laws collide when it comes to pot. Agents at eight Border Patrol checkpoints in the state will seize those with marijuana on them as the U.S. government classifies marijuana as a controlled substance, like heroin and LSD. That determination means that federal law enforcement agencies will continue to uphold federal laws.
“Prior to Jan. 1, it’s going to be the same after Jan. 1, because nothing changed on our end,” said Ryan Yamasaki, an assistant chief of the Border Patrol’s San Diego sector. “If you’re a federal law enforcement agency, you uphold federal laws.”
Located up to 100 miles from Mexico, the checkpoints are not only a final line of defense against immigrants who elude agents at the border but also assist in stopping illegal drugs, including U.S. citizens carrying small bags of marijuana. According to a Government Accountability Office report out last month, around 40 percent of pot seizures from citizens at checkpoints from fiscal years 2013 to 2016 were for an ounce or less. California’s new law allows anyone 21 and over to carry up to an ounce.