(ANTIMEDIA) A police department in Charlotte County, Florida, felt the wrath of the Internet’s opposition to the drug war after posting a picture of an apple fashioned into a pipe. The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office in Punta Gorda, Florida, shared an image Wednesday of a burned apple, attempting to joke about the Notice to Appear in court (NTA) they issued to the weed user over for misdemeanor.
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In their now-deleted post, they wrote:
“An apple a day…gets you an NTA 🍎🍎 (if you use it to smoke marijuana).
We may have finally seen everything.
*NTA – Notice to Appear in court for a misdemeanor charge.
Hours later, a wave of opposition hit the post after the libertarian meme page, Liberty Memes, shared it with their followers. The police deleted their post shortly after.
This is an increasingly familiar sequence of events: cops make social media posts about their drug busts and internet users flock to their pages to criticize their practices. This is ultimately unsurprising in light of growing skepticism toward the drug war and increasing support for cannabis legalization, but the comments on the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office post were particularly hilarious.
Some pointed out the irony of cops targeting people over “bad apples,” also poking fun at the cops’ attempt to make a joke:
Others mocked the officers for chasing after literal plant matter, two times over:
Still others were more serious, pointing out the irrationality of targeting people for non-violent, victimless crimes and the drug war’s fundamental failures:
In typical fashion, some commenters defended the cops, appealing to the authority of ‘the law’ to justify the officers’ actions:
And, in typical fashion, they were met with numerous responses:
Anti-Media contacted the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office via their Facebook page (before they deleted the post) to clarify exactly why the NTA was issued. According to the department, it was for “Marijuana – Possess Not More Than 20 Grams, and Drug Paraphernalia – Possession.” An NTA is issued instead of a formal arrest.
Hussein & Webber, a Florida-based criminal law firm, notes that in the state, “possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis is a first degree misdemeanor, with penalties that include jail, probation, and a driver’s license revocation.”
NORML, a pro-legalization advocacy group, notes that this offense carries up to a year behind bars and up to a $1,000 fine. The paraphernalia offense has the same penalties.
Hussein and Webber explain the likely scenario:
“A conviction for misdemeanor marijuana possession will result in a two-year driver’s license revocation, in addition to a likely term of probation. If a probationary sentence is imposed, the defendant will be subjected to intrusive random drug testing and be responsible for paying costs of supervision, court costs, fines, costs of prosecution, and completing all other terms and conditions imposed by the court. A failure to complete any one of these conditions, or a failed drug test, or a missed drug test, will result in a violation of your probation, the issuance of a warrant for your arrest, and a likely jail sentence.”
Liberty Meme’s “Admin 2” recently explained to Anti-Media that the intention of directing social media users to police posts about drug busts (and other controversial practices, like civil asset forfeiture) “is to very specifically get [police] to think twice about committing these actions, as they are in violation of their oaths and run contrary to a vast portion of public opinions.”
Though Florida recently legalized medical marijuana, the rules are restrictive. Recreational use is also clearly still against the law and draws punishment from authorities even as much of the country works toward legalization.
As one commenter succinctly put it: