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Photo of Matt M. McClenahen
Photo of Matt M. McClenahen

Marijuana Cultivation Charges Lodged Against Real Life Nancy Botwin

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2013 | Uncategorized

A suburban mom from Scarsdale, NY, one of America’s wealthiest communities, faces federal charges for running a multi-million dollar marijuana grow operation out of a warehouse in Queens. The fact that Andrea Sanderlin lived a double-life as a marijuana “queenpin” and an upper-class, white, suburban mom is drawing inevitable comparisons to the fictional character Nancy Botwin, of the hit Showtime series “Weeds,” who once marketed a product known as “MILF Weed.”

An affluent, middle-aged woman in the marijuana business shatters various stereotypes. For all the gains that women have made in various fields over the last 40 years, the illegal drug business remains very much a male dominated enterprise. Most women in the drug business are partnered with husbands or boyfriends, yet this story suggests that Ms. Sanderlin was running the operation without the help of a significant other. The very fact that Ms. Sanderlin was even caught is also noteworthy. Marijuana

arrests for both possession for personal use and dealing are disproportionately concentrated among lower socio-economic classes. The exception to that general rule is college towns, like my home base of State College, Pennsylvania, where marijuana-smoking Penn State students make easy pickings for local police.

During the coming, final years of Marijuana Prohibition, it will become increasingly clear that the premise of “Weeds” was an example of art imitating real life rather than the other way around. Cannabis is already mainstream and socially acceptable among many American subcultures, and that trend continues with each passing year. Marijuana’s restriction to the counter-culture and certain ethnic minorities ended a long time ago. It is not uncommon to see a lit bowl freely passed around at parties filled with the likes of teachers, professors, accountants, engineers, attorneys, pharmacists and physicians, with the presumption being that no one is going to be offended by it. Twenty or thirty years ago, the actors in such a party scene would have been college-aged, but now those very same college kids are successful, middle-aged professionals, many of whom are still getting their kif on.

Throughout the United States, there are enough educated, respectable, middle-class and upper-middle class moms partaking in ganja to fill Beaver Stadium several times over. Is it any wonder that a few of them would enter the canna-business to sell to their peers, who might not feel comfortable buying from members of the traditional drug dealer demographic? Like the fictional Nancy Botwin, Andrea Sanderlin is really no different from otherwise law-abiding Scots-Irish Americans operating distilleries, German-Americans brewing beer and Italian and Jewish Americans making wine during America’s failed Alcohol Prohibition of 1920 to 1933. Whether we are talking about alcohol or cannabis, Prohibition unjustly turns people into criminals, who are not actual criminals.

Matt McClenahen is a defense attorney in State College, Pennsylvania, who represents victims of Marijuana Prohibition. He limits his practice to criminal law.



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