Court Finds Man Traveling with $65K Cash to Buy Weed Did Not Commit a Crime

Legal
Court Says Man Traveling with $65K Cash to Buy Weed Did Not Commit a Crime

In a story that seems like a mix of Minority Report and Kid Cannabis with a dash of Fargo thrown in for good measure (and accents), a judge in Lincoln, Nebraska, has dismissed the charges against a 24-year-old man caught driving across Nebraska with $65,000 in cash he planned to use to buy weed in Colorado to sell in Minnesota. Confused? Read on.

On Oct. 24, 2014, Erik J. Felsheim of Mankato, Minnesota, was stopped by a Lancaster Country sheriff for following too closely. Felsheim told the sheriff he was headed to Colorado and openly admitted he was nervous. When the sheriff asked if he was carrying any drugs or large amounts of cash, Felsheim said no and agreed to let the sheriff search his rental car. In the trunk, the officer found $65,000 in cash, and Felsheim quickly admitted he was headed to Golden, CO, to buy 17.5 pounds of marijuana he and a friend intended to sell in their college town of Mankato, MN.

While Felsheim’s friend James Atkinson, 23, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of attempted possession of marijuana and attempted possession of money while violating drug laws and served 360 days in jail with a $2,000 fine, Felsheim decided to take his chances in court — and lucky for him that he did.

“The intention to commit a crime in another state does not constitute a crime in Nebraska,” Felsheim’s residing Judge Susan Strong wrote in her order.

Strong cited the findings of 1975 Nebraska Supreme Court case State v. Karsten, in which a man in Nebraska paid another man to assault a third party in Colorado. (Jerry Lundegaard, anyone?) The case set precedent that conspiring to break the law of another state is not a violation of Nebraska law; exactly what Felsheim’s lawyers needed to win his case.

Now we know, if you plan on smuggling weed between two states, make sure you get caught somewhere in between. Oh, and maybe don't tell a police officer you're nervous and headed to Colorado? Just a thought.

Erik J. Felsheim