QUESTION: MUST A PERSON RECEIVE MONEY IN ORDER TO BE CONVICTED OF
ANSWER: NO. THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT FOR AN EXCHANGE OF MONEY OR
ANYTHING OF VALUE. THE POSSESSION WHICH IS TRANSFERRED MAY BE EITHER
ACTUAL OR CONSTRUCTIVE. IN OTHER WORDS, THE DRUGS MAY BE PHYSICALLY
HANDED FROM ONE PERSON TO ANOTHER. ALSO, ONE PERSON MIGHT TELL A SECOND
PERSON WHERE THE DRUGS ARE HIDDEN SO THAT THE SECOND PERSON CAN TAKE
PHYSICAL POSSESSION OF THEM IN THE FUTURE. THIS SECOND EXAMPLE IS
QUESTION: MUST ANY PARTICULAR AMOUNT OF DRUG BE TRANSFERRED BEFORE IT
CAN BE CALLED A "DISTRIBUTION?"
ANSWER: NO. FOR EXAMPLE, SHARING A MARIJUANA JOINT IS DISTRIBUTION. UNITED
STATES V. BRANCH, 483 F.2d 955 (9TH Cir. 1973). ALSO, SHARING OF COCAINE WITH
FRIENDS IS A DISTRIBUTION EVEN WITHOUT A COMMERCIAL SCHEME. UNITED
STATES V. RAMIREZ, 608 F.2d 1261 (9th Cir.
THIS ALSO COVERS ONE
COCONSPIRATOR WHO TRANSFERS DRUGS TO ANOTHER. U.S. V. TUERO, 26 MJ 106
(CMA 1988). UNDER THE CONSPIRACY ALL CONSPIRATORS CAN BE CONVICTED OF
DISTRIBUTION BY ONE OF THE CONSPIRATORS.
In the case of United States v. Sorrell, 20 MJ 684 (ACMR, 1985), the Army Court of Military
Review addressed the issue of whether a distribution of drugs can be said to have occurred when those
receiving the drugs are unaware of their presence. This interesting question arose when the accused was
involved in an automobile accident in Germany. At the time of the accident, the accused was driving a
rented car which was loaded with a number of boxes containing his personal property. SFC Sorrell
decided to move his belongings into the vehicles of two German nationals who stopped at the scene.
They agreed to deliver the accused's possessions to his friend who would accept his belongings and
safeguard them. Ultimately, the Germans delivered the accused's possessions to the local MP station.
When the MP were unable to contact the accused's friend, they began to inventory the boxes and
discovered a variety of controlled substances, smoking devices, marijuana residue, and drug
paraphernalia. Investigation at the scene of the accident revealed a smoking device and marijuana seeds
in the glove compartment of the accused's car. The controlled substances discovered during the
inventory formed the basis of seven specifications alleging distribution of the various controlled
substances. On appeal, the accused argued that he was wrongfully convicted for what was, in his view,
a "temporary transfer of custody" of his personal property to the two passersby. He further argued that
no distribution could have occurred as he did not intend to involve the two individuals in a drug
operation. The court rejected this argument and affirmed his conviction for distribution. The court
pointed out that the term "distribution" means delivery to the possession of another. Such a transfer
would be wrongful if it was a knowing and conscious transfer on the part of the accused. It is
immaterial whether or not the recipients knew there were drugs and paraphernalia in his belongings.
United States v. Sorrell, 20 MJ 684 (ACMR 1985).
F. "With the Intent to Distribute."