Angry Afternoon (The Human and Fiscal Cost of the Medical Marijuana Wars)

Two reports came out today about the federal government's attacks on medical marijuana providers. First, California NORML surveyed court records connected with medical marijuana cases, finding nearly 500 person years of incarceration for medical marijuana defendants. Second, Americans for Safe Access has estimated $300 million spent by the Obama administration on anti-medical marijuana enforcement, after $200 million spent in two terms of the Bush administration -- half a billion total.

Dale Schafer and Mollie Fry (canorml.org)
Among the cases highlighted are those of people like Richard Flor, Montana medical marijuana provider who died in federal prison. They include the husband and wife defendants Dale Schafer (a hemophiliac) and Dr. Mollie Fry (a cancer patient). Not highlighted in the release, but on the list, is my friend Bryan Epis, California's second medical marijuana defendant and the first to be convicted. Bryan is getting out soon, but he's spent too many years behind bars. There are many more, of course.

Some people argue that these people knowingly took a risk, violating federal law, and even if one disagrees with a law, it's the law and prosecutors are bound to uphold it. But that misses a basic ethical point, and a practical one. In practical terms, police and prosecutors have discretion to focus their resources on the cases of most importance to them. They also can choose not to prosecute, or make deals to let people out of prison time, no abuse of discretion being thereby committed. In many cases that's what happened.

And so in a situation such as this one -- states passing pro-medical marijuana laws, now even legalization laws, the Obama administration effectively encouraging people further by promising a more-or-less hands off approach to the issue, that clearly would have been the right approach for officials to take. If they felt (rightly or wrongly) that they had to shut down certain operations, the ethical approach, given all that came before, would have been to tell the people things have changed, they have to stop doing what they're doing or face prosecution, but giving them that chance. (The same idea applies to Marc Emery, whose business was accepted by authorities for nine years until they hit him with the years he's serving.)

Instead of doing that, in the many cases CANORML has highlighted, they instead let the parties go about their business for years, until they had the evidence compiled they would need to get the extremely harsh sentences they wanted. If these outlets were really harming the public, shouldn't they have moved to close them down as soon as they could instead? I thought the point of our laws was to protect the public, not to destroy the individuals targeted by the law.

Those are a few of the reasons it's an angry afternoon for me.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Crimes Against Humanity.

The drug war is "Crime Against Humanity".

Not Fine by me!

Once, decades ago, on an outing with friends to Harlan County (Nebraska) Dam Reservoir and Recreation Area, a small thick patch of cannabis was discovered, and we gleefully gathered just the tops from a dozen or so of the plants, unaware we were under observation from the Corps of Engineers' office, directly across the river. Our car was stopped and searched as we went to leave by a few of these military, and we were held until the local sheriff could arrive, formally charge and ticket us, and direct us to the local courthouse, where we were arraigned and judged within the hour, fined $500 each, with a year's probation. Thus, the county got income from their illegal grow which, being on federally (Army) controlled land, was exempt from the county weed-control program. An attractive nuisance, designed to entrap and generate income. Probation rather than jail eliminates the costs of incarceration; a slick setup, if you accept silent collusion between the local yokel, county D.A., circuit judge, and Army CoE commander, who (I would wager) each got a cut of each fine. [ Attractive Nuisance doctrine - a legal doctrine which makes a person negligent for leaving a piece of equipment or other condition on property which would be both attractive and dangerous (e.g., to curious children). These have included tractors, unguarded swimming pools, open pits, and abandoned refrigerators. Liability could be placed on the people owning or controlling the premises even when the child was a trespasser who sneaked on the property. Basically the doctrine was intended to make people careful about what dangerous conditions they left untended. ] 

 

Who would argue that inflicting this expensive temptation on the public was not dangerous to them, as it entails risk of much more than just a fine? Need I say more?

Marijuana in Washington DC

This drug " Czar" for the white house is really blind. One can get a graph from anywhere. The government can make things up. After all the Republican Congress voted to keep the propaganda act in tact. So many going to prison. Yes since the Republicans  privatized the prison system population has exploded. The taxpayers are being duped. The drug war is a lie. Marijuana is not the cause of all the sickness they say it is. In fact it is found it might even help with diabetes. I am 60 years old. I am old enough to think for myself. To decide what I put in my body. We must keep the fight going. Freedom is never free. We must keep fighting for truth. These people must not be allowed to get away with these crazy lies and  actions. DEA. What a joke they are. To waste all the resources on finding marijuana. Marijuana does not hurt the forests. I would like to meet the idiots who came up with that one. Nothing would be harmed once you were able to kick cartels out. That will only work if there is no money to be made. Common people use your own brain. Try to think for yourselves. Wouldn't that be something new. Down with the tea party. they wouldn't know freedom if it kicked them in the butt.

Marijuana is illegal not

Marijuana is illegal not because it harms people, it's illegal because pharmaceutical companies can not patent and make money off of it. In case you didn't know, The banks and multinational corporations have absolute control over our government through corrupt politicians and a corrupt government. Please start to look at the laws that are being passed these days and you will see, that they are not for our benefit, instead they directly or indirectly benefiting the corporations/banks.

Nice one...Thank you so much

Nice one...Thank you so much for sharing dqfanfeedback

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