The trendy celebrity news reporting service E! has brought to our attention the fact that many stars are getting arrested in a small town in Texas. Sierra Blanca is not known for very much other than arresting celebrities; it boasts an area of about four square miles, and only about 500 people call it home. So what’s the big idea with all the Texas drug arrests— at least in this little corner of the Lone Star state?
Fiona Apple actually spent the night in jail in Sierra Blanca for possession of both marijuana and also hashish. If she had been carrying only the marijuana on her tour bus, the charge would have been no more than a misdemeanor, but the hash on board could mean a felony on Ms. Apple’s record if she’s convicted. She left Sierra Blanca behind after paying a $10,000 bond.
Ms. Apple’s not the only celebrity to spend some time in this Texas jail. Earlier in the year there were mug shots taken of Armie Hammer, who played Leonardo DiCaprio’s assistant in the J. Edgar movie and also the infamous Winklevoss twins in The Social Network. He was carrying some medicinal marijuana in the form of cookies and a brownie but also had some plain old marijuana with him, resulting in a $1,000 bond.
The jail cell cot was likely still warm from Hammer’s brief stay when Snoop Dogg was brought in on similar charges. However, he paid a fine and left, cited only with a misdemeanor, since he was carrying just two ounces of marijuana.
Why have these arrests—and several others—happened in this quiet, sleepy little town? It seems that Sierra Blanca, just 85 miles east of El Paso, is the site of a checkpoint for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. The patrol officers utilize drug-sniffing dogs to investigate vehicles stopped at random along the route.
The celebrities come along this route, it seems, because Sierra Blanca sits on Interstate 10, which runs from Los Angeles to Florida. It’s a primary route for film crews traveling to site locations and also for celebrities traveling with their entourages from California to Florida.
Many of these rich and famous folks hold cards allowing them to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, but that doesn’t hold any sway in Texas. There’s no medicinal marijuana law in Texas, says Rusty Fleming, public relations officer for the Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Office, and if you bring marijuana into the area, you will likely experience a Texas drug arrest.
The dogs that are unleashed onto these unsuspecting celebrities’ vehicles are very good at what they do. In the case of Fiona Apple, the marijuana was in a class container inside of a backpack stashed in the rear of the bus. Snoop Dogg’s dope—four rolled joints—was inside a prescription bottle in a trashcan.
The sorry side of this issue is that when celebrities smoke pot, regular people think that they can do it, too. Dr. Oz has discussed on his popular television show the dangers of marijuana as a gateway drug. Montel Williams, who appeared on the show and displayed his medical marijuana card for treatment of his multiple sclerosis, claims that use of marijuana is a better option than opioid painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin, since opioids can lead to heroin use.
While the Federal government explores the legality of both medical and recreational marijuana use approved by some states, it’s probably a good idea to find another route to Florida if you want to toke while you drive.