Oklahoma man faces life in prison for less than an ounce of marijuana


An Oklahoma man faces a possible life sentence after he allegedly sold 4 grams of marijuana to a pair of confidential informants working with police in the city of Enid, an hour and a half drive north of Oklahoma City.

After the arrest, police searched the home of the man, 44-year-old convicted felon Michael Bourbonais, according to Enid News. Authorities say they found a little over 14 grams of marijuana in containers from Colorado and a glass pipe with marijuana residue. They also say they found packing materials, a scale and more pipes.

Bourbonais was arraigned last week and faces charges of possession with intent to distribute within 2,000 feet of a school, two counts of distribution of a controlled substance and a misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia, Enid News reports. He has three prior felony convictions, including failure to register as a sex offender.

Because of his rap sheet, he faces 12 years to life in prison — a stunning sentence for an amount of marijuana that would have been legal in Colorado, which shares a border with Oklahoma.

The two states have starkly different approaches to marijuana. Colorado residents voted to legalize the drug in 2012 and you can now possess up to an ounce of pot for personal consumption in the state.

Oklahoma, on the other hand, has some of the strictest marijuana laws in the nation. A first-offense misdemeanor conviction for possession could land you a $1,000 fine or a year in jail. Don’t get caught again, either — a second conviction is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The tension over marijuana policy is playing out in court. The states of Oklahoma and Nebraska are suing Colorado over its weed law, claiming pot can move easily over the border into their communities, making law enforcement more costly.

The case may even reach the Supreme Court, but it’s unlikely the court will decide whether to hear it until the fall.

Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.

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