comScore

What a St. Paul couple's marijuana bust should teach us... and maybe finally will

Did this St. Paul couple smoke blunts? We don't know, and City Pages apologizes for the implication without proof, but this was the best stock photo we could find.

Did this St. Paul couple smoke blunts? We don't know, and City Pages apologizes for the implication without proof, but this was the best stock photo we could find. Darren415/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Vang Xiong and May Yang, both 41, are in a lot of trouble -- financially, and perhaps legally. 

The St. Paul couple are facing civil forefiture in U.S. District Court in the amount of $30,389, per the St. Paul Pioneer Press, after a package containing 18-plus pounds of marijuana was intercepted by law enforcement at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

A raid of the couple's home on St. Paul's East Side turned up an accounting notebook indicating the couple had used it to track marijuana shipments -- seven large packages have been delivered to their home since last summer -- Xiong and Vang received, plus other evidence of a minor criminal enterprise. That $30,389 amount stems from how much the couple had stashed in a locked safe, one which also contained 10 guns.

Three more guns were discovered outside the safe. The guns' status as registered or not registered is unclear in the Pioneer Press story. No criminal charges have been filed against either person involved.

The pot was allegedly coming from a small plot of land Xiong owns (or owned) in California, where the growth of marijuana is legal.

The sale of pot is allowed in 33 U.S. states, a list that includes Minnesota, though here we've opted for a restrictive medicinal approach to the herb, one which only recently recognized its potential for use in treating post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Other common problems cannabis can be used to treat in Minnesota include:

  • Certain cancers, namely those associated with pain or nausea
  • Autism
  • Epilepsy and other seizure-related illnesses
  • Multiple sclerosis and other spasm-related illnesses
  • Sleep apnea

Weird grouping of ailments, that. Try finding another drug that'd be prescribed to treat such a varied group of suffering, aside from ... Advil?

That list will likely grow... unless Minnesota joins the 10 states and one territory -- the one where the U.S. Congress and federal government lives, at least when they're not shirking their duties -- where recreational use of marijuana is allowed. Growth, legal amounts, and driving laws vary in those states, but the posession of marijuana with intent to sell to strangers, as Vang Xiong and his wife, May Yang, did, would not be illegal or cause for civil forefiture.

Those states with recreational marijuana laws include:

  • California
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Colorado
  • Massachussets
  • Michigan
  • Alaska

Weird grouping of states, that. Try finding something they have in common outside... being members of these United States. 

That list will likely grow, too. Minnesota might be next, if proposals already under consideration at the state Capitol -- located in Xiong's and Vang's chosen city -- are passed this legislative session. 

Press conferences earlier this week indicate the debate will be heated. One man, a St. Paul-based activist named John Thompson, interrupted a speaker to yell that marijuana was used "as a tool" and "to attack black men."

After the press conference scene, Thompson told the Star Tribune he was "sorry if I intimidate anybody," but that he stands by his anger. He's got his reasons: his friend Philando Castile, a beloved lunchroom employee at a Twin Cities school, was pulled over by cops and shot to death in front of his girlfriend and her child. The cop who pulled the trigger would later say he detected the smell of marijuana from the car.

By coincidence, May Yang, the woman involved in the recent federal forefiture case, works as a food manager at the Hmong College Prep Academy in St. Paul. Both she and Philando Castile spend -- or spent, in Phil's case -- their working hours thinking about how to feed children. 

Reached by phone, May declined to comment. City Pages has not declined to comment, as indicated by this opinion piece, plus this cover story about how Colorado towns have thrived economically through the end of marijuana's prohibition. A majority of Minnesota State Fair-goers support legalization.

Anyway, if you were seeking to score pot from the Xiong/May couple on St. Paul's East Side, they're probably lying low for the time being ... though we have very little doubt you can find it from someone else. Good luck out there, smokers -- and lawmakers.