In what can only be described as an act of overtly racist policing, professional basketball star Zach Randolph was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, a felony offense. Why a man who signed a two year contract worth $24 million just one month ago would risk that sum selling cannabis on the streets of Los Angeles was curiously not explained by the arresting officers.
According to TMZ Sports, the Sacramento Kings’ newest addition, affectionately known as Z-Bo, was hanging out with a large group of people outside of Los Angeles’ Nickerson Gardens public housing community last night when local sheriffs arrived to break up the scene. Cops say that loud music, weed smoke, and road blocks led to a confrontation with two partygoers, including Randolph, who ended the night in handcuffs.
Police reports claim that when officers arrived on the scene, three men reached for their wristbands and began running. One of those men was released, another was arrested for possessing a firearm, and Randolph was charged with the cannabis crime.
The amount of weed in Randolph’s possession has not been released by the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, but TMZ is reporting that the felony distribution charge is being levied because of the “large” quantity of pot in Z-Bo’s possession.
What doesn’t make sense, though, is that cannabis is legal in California. And while it is entirely possible, although seemingly unlikely, that Randolph would be carrying more than the legally allowed 28.5 grams of cannabis at an outdoor party, unless he was also carrying a scale or a bunch of baggies. A simple Google search would also show that even a pound of bud in Z-Bo’s hands should probably be considered destined for personal use.
Even if the former Memphis Grizzlies star was carrying a turkey bag in his track pants, California law allows officers to charge those caught with more than the legally allowed amount of weed with a simple misdemeanor. That was clearly not the route these officers chose to go down.
In California, a pound of wholesale marijuana still goes for between $1,000 and $2,000 in the legal cannabis industry, and is worth slightly more on the black market. Even on the highest end, though, Randolph would need to sell over 73 pounds of pot to equal the amount he will make from just one single game during next year’s NBA season.
At the scene of the arrest, it didn’t take long for the amassed crowd to realize the hypocrisy of the sheriffs, with police reports claiming rocks and bottles were thrown in the direction of officers, and 5 cop cars had their windows smashed in immediate response to the police activity. No further arrests were made in the event’s aftermath.
Z-Bo was booked late last night and held on $20,000 bail. He was released earlier this morning, but rest assured that Randolph’s lawyers will fight to get the charges reduced or completely thrown out in court. Still, the incident is just another reminder that no matter how many votes get tallied, pot shops are opened, or millions of dollars are brought into the community, police will still find a way to use marijuana to make racially-charged arrests.
Randolph’s lawyer and agent Raymond Brothers told reporters this morning that the charges are false and misleading. "We're looking at all options to resolve this matter." Brothers said.