A Palm Springs Middle School student’s parents were arrested this week on multiple drug and child neglect charges in Florida. A teacher at the school noticed the strong smell of marijuana coming from the boy’s backpack and, when questioned about it, the student revealed that his father used the backpack to transport the plant. His parents, Rolando Naranjo and Betsy Espinoza, were arrested and charged after the school contacted a Miami-Dade Schools police officer. A search warrant was used to raid the family’s home where they found that the duo had been growing and selling cannabis illegally, within 1,000 feet of a school.
A Multitude of Charges
Police found 10 marijuana plants that weighed over 20 pounds as well as evidence that they intended to sell the plant. Plastic baggies were discovered, 2 heat seal vacuum machines as well as 2 digital scales. All create the clear impression that the couple were weighing, separating and bagging specific quantities that were intended for sale, according to the police. They were charged with trafficking, possession, intent to sell marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a place for the purposes of trafficking. They were also charged with 2 counts each of possessing a place to manufacture drugs with a minor present and child neglect with no great bodily harm.
Details on the Neglect Charges
The son of the couple informed the police that people often came to the home to purchase marijuana and that his father often used his backpack to transport the plant. Hialeah Sgt. Carl Zogby said that the conditions in the child’s home were “deplorable” and the duo were taken away in handcuffs. No attorneys have been listed in the jail for the duo. It was the 11 yea old’s first day back at school and he now begins the year amidst the family crisis.
Legalizing to Reduce Black Market Sales
Florida is one of the 29 states that have currently legalized medical marijuana and last November the state expanded the laws to include being used for more conditions as well as expanding the program for making it more accessible to patients. It still does not allow the plant to be grown in people’s homes and, in general, the program is fairly strict. Many cannabis advocates have discussed the need to legalize the plant in order to be able to regulate it and ensure that it is grown and sold in a safe, productive way. The only way to eliminate the black market is to make the plant legal. In this way, its growth and sale would have to adhere to state regulations and the process would be out in the open and under supervision.
Cannabis has been legalized in 8 states already and those states that already have a working industry have noticed many improvements from the plant’s legalization. The black market has diminished, crime is down, opioid addiction and opioid related hospital visits are down by approximately 23 percent and there has been no increase in teen use. All in all, the legalization of marijuana has proven to be a beneficial way that a state can cut down on crime and increase their tax revenue which can then go back to supporting the community.