Drug Group Purchase Cases in California

In People v. Edwards (1985) 39 Cal.3d 107, the court examined the ruling in People v. Mayfield (1964) 225 Cal.App.2d 263. Mayfield concluded that when several individuals mutually agree to pool their funds to acquire drugs and divide the drugs among themselves for their personal consumption, and thereafter carry out their enterprise, none of the individuals can fairly be said to have sold or furnished drugs to their copartners within the meaning of the statutory proscription. (Mayfield, at p. 267.) Edwards concluded "the distinction drawn by the Mayfield court between one who sells or furnishes heroin and one who simply participates in a group purchase seems to us a valid one, at least where the individuals involved are truly 'equal partners' in the purchase and the purchase is made strictly for each individual's personal use. Under such circumstances, it cannot reasonably be said that each individual has 'supplied' heroin to the others." (Edwards, at pp. 113-114.) Edwards cautioned, however, that it would be the rare case to which this rule applied, because "where one of the copurchasers takes a more active role in instigating, financing, arranging or carrying-out the drug transaction, the 'partnership' is not an equal one and the more active 'partner' may be guilty of furnishing to the less active one. Furthermore, one who acts as a go-between or agent of either the buyer or seller clearly may be found guilty of furnishing as an aider and abettor to the seller." (Id. at p. 114, fn. 5.) Edwards then examined whether there was substantial evidence from which the jury could have reasonably concluded the defendant and his partner were equal partners in both the financing and execution of the drug purchase. Edwards concluded there was evidence from which a jury could have found (1) they had agreed to pool their financial resources to obtain their objective of obtaining a quantity of drugs that they would thereafter divide for their personal consumption, and (2) they were equally active in the executing the purchase and there was no evidence either person "acted as a go-between or agent of the other." (Id. at p. 115.)