The Montana Supreme Court created a new legal rule of sorts by adding a twist to a well-established business practice among illicit drug dealers.
"'Don't get high on your own supply' is a long-established rule of the drug trade specifically because such conduct is inconsistent with the criminal objective of distributing drugs for profit," wrote Justice James Jeremiah Shea in an opinion of the court this week. "To that rule, we now add the legal caveat: 'Don't get high on your own supply, 'cause double jeopardy don't apply.'"
The case involves Bruce Anthony Glass' contention that a district court incorrectly ruled that his federal conviction for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine did not prevent a subsequent state prosecution for "possession of dangerous drugs," as the Montana Supreme Court wrote in its opinion.
"Glass argues his criminal objective was to import methamphetamine from California to distribute in Montana, and to accomplish that criminal objective, he had to necessarily possess the methamphetamine before he could distribute it," Shea wrote in the court's opinion. "Therefore, Glass contends his act of possessing methamphetamine and distributing methamphetamine is part of the same transaction for which he was convicted in federal court."
But Glass' fatal mistake that nullified his double jeopardy argument appears to be his personal use of some of the methamphetamine.
The government argued that the separate prosecution of Glass for "criminal possession of dangerous drugs" stemmed from Glass' personal use of methamphetamine and not from the same transaction involved in his federal conviction. As a result, the Montana Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's denial of Glass' motion to dismiss based on the double jeopardy argument.
"[I]f Glass's only criminal objective was to import and distribute methamphetamine for profit, as he contends, the methamphetamine he used actually ran contrary to his criminal objective of distribution," the court wrote. "Thus, Glass's possession of methamphetamine for his personal use, as evidenced by the residue in his pipe, is a distinct and separate prosecutable offense."