Why Congress needs to address federal marijuana law [View all]
Last edited Sat Jul 19, 2014, 02:52 PM - Edit history (1)
Occasionally people here have argued that it doesn't matter, as a political issue, whether Congress addresses marijuana prohibition because it's simple to obtain cannabis if you're in a legal or decriminalized state. This claim was always strange to me, considering Louisiana law, among other states, still allows for a conviction of life in prison for three simple possession arrests.
But this was said more often back when others here were criticizing Obama for the federal govt's. actions in places like CA. in regard to dispensaries, and not quite so often now that the executive branch has signaled its willingness (at least now, while Obama is in office) to change marijuana law by Obama's statement marijuana is a "vice" like alcohol and by Holder's suggestion the DEA and the DoJ talk about rescheduling, along with the passage of CO and WA state legalization laws.
Decriminalization presents a problem because this applies to possession of amounts intended for personal use (whatever the law may designate) and ignores the reality that personal use marijuana generally comes from someone who, at some point, possesses a large amount of marijuana that is distributed for personal use.
Decriminalization is like the religious idea of Limbo - or, more to the point, liminality - the intermediate state between the ritual of the drug war and the ceasefire of legalization. What states have offered, to varying degrees, is the establishment of the ritual of ceasefire. Yet federal illegality stands as a higher power that, by the nature of its power, will seek to enforce it.
That's how we get the following situation in which a man operated a medical marijuana dispensary which he also used as a front to ship large amounts of cannabis to the northeast. His actions were, without doubt, illegal at both the state and federal level. Yet his jury of peers did not want to convict him because they have already joined the ceasefire in this nation.
Yet Congress continues to be unwilling to call an end to the war on marijuana.
This tension between the citizens of the nation and the legislative and judicial branches of government is not a good thing. The judiciary looks petty and Congress looks inept and farcical, as if Congress suddenly turned into one of those bands of abandoned soldiers, left in a remote outback, still fighting the cause of the axis powers - stragglers, the Congressional Holdout, who have lost communication with the wider world.
The judiciary must uphold the farce that Congress insists on performing. The following trial account demonstrates this. While the judge insists on upholding the law, the lawyer for the defendant notes an apparatus of the law called the "safety valve" that would allow the judge to apply a sentence lesser than the mandatory minimum. (The lawyer noted this in comments for this article.)
The comments by people on the LA Times site speak against the judge, comparing the application of such law to the application of Jim Crow laws in the past, and the excuse of the good German to uphold the law, no matter how wrong the law may be.
No one argues the defendant is innocent - they argue the law itself is the crime. They also argue the money wasted on these trials is yet another example of poor management of taxpayer funds. Taxpayers don't want to prosecute marijuana cases. The prosecutors in a state like CA cannot easily find enough jury members who are willing to consider convictions for "marijuana crimes."
Yet Congress continues to fail the American public regarding this issue, day after day, month after month, year after year. They are cut off from the very public they are supposed to represent.
Shemitz a 57-year-old soft-spoken, self-described "nice Jewish girl" from a liberal family in Connecticut who started prosecuting federal narcotics cases more than 20 years ago in Washington, D.C. has no grievance with the plant or people smoke it.
She wouldn't care if Congress made it legal. But it hasn't, and she believes the Justice Department, to remain credible, must enforce the law.
Even if that meant that Kleinman, 39, might spend the next 24 years in federal prison.
Federal law prohibits any use and sales of marijuana, classifying it as a Schedule 1 narcotic, more dangerous than methamphetamine, cocaine or Oxycontin. But 23 states and Washington, D.C., have approved pot for medical use, and two of them Colorado and Washington allow retail sales. This has made it difficult for federal prosecutors in states like California to get a jury impartial to marijuana legalization.
more, interesting, reading at the link...