Skip to main content

Drug War Irrationality Watch: Banning Things That Are Already Illegal

Submitted by smorgan on
One of the fun things about being a drug warrior is that you can always propose crazy new drug laws, even when they overlap with existing legislation. The temptation to single out and stigmatize perpetrators of every remote subcategory of drug activity has been known to keep drug-obsessed legislators off the golf course.

This week, Nevada State Sen. Joe Heck (R-Las Vegas) is championing unnecessary marijuana laws in a state where 44% of voters want to legalize the stuff. From the Reno Gazette-Journal:

Nevada parents who grow a single marijuana plant in their home where children live could be subject to a prison term of up to 15 years, according to a bill that was debated Monday at the Nevada Legislature.

Senate Bill 5, sponsored by state Sen. Joe Heck, R-Las Vegas, would subject parents who grow or sell marijuana in the presence of children to the same penalties as adults who operate methamphetamine labs in front of children.

Of course meth labs frequently explode and spew toxic chemicals, eventually producing methamphetamine. Marijuana plants just sit around smelling nice and getting larger, and eventually you get marijuana. Different drugs, different process, different people, same draconian punishment?

"The very behavior of small children puts them at risk around these materials, including marijuana," Heck said. "As any parent knows, the first place a toddler places anything they find is in their mouth. What if this object is a marijuana plant?"

I'm skeptical. A lot of kids won’t eat vegetables unless you withhold dessert. And unheated marijuana is basically non-psychoactive. I'm not saying people should grow marijuana with kids around, but the bill's proponents have cited no evidence of small children being injured by live marijuana plants. I doubt they'll find any.

At best, a 15-year mandatory minimum for small-time marijuana cultivation is an imprecise reaction to the general concern that children put random things in their mouths. At worst, one might call it shameless drug war posturing, hastily drafted without evidence of any particular urgency, to the detriment of a thousand better ways to spend money on Nevada's children.

Actually, that's exactly what it is.

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.