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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 5/15/2003 10:42:58 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/15/2003 10:43:49 PM EDT by gaspain]
[url]http://www.caledonianrecord.com/pages/top_news/story/b6210ab9a[/url] Vermont Police Worry Move Will Impact Crime Here Pot Laws In Canada About To Ease Up BY ROBIN SMITH, Staff Writer Wednesday May 14, 2003 Canada is on the verge of liberalizing marijuana possession laws, and Vermont law enforcement officers - like others in the United States - aren't happy. "We are pretty concerned," said Capt. Michael P. Jennings, special investigations unit commander of the Vermont State Police. "It isn't just the weed, it's the crime that goes with it." Jennings said the increasingly powerful hydroponic marijuana smuggled across the border now is more valuable than ever to drug dealers who are seeking U.S. markets. The pressure on the world's friendliest border will only increase if possession is not a crime across Canada. A bill to reduce the crime of possessing a small amount of marijuana to the equivalent of a traffic ticket is likely to be introduced into the Canadian parliament later this week. Jails terms and criminal records for such offenses would be eliminated and fines of $100 would be imposed instead, according to the Canadian Press. Possession of a small amount of marijuana in northern Vermont might mean a $300 fine for a first-time offender, based on recent Orleans County District Court cases. However, the offender would still have a criminal record. The White House has said that if marijuana possession is decriminalized in Canada, the United States will have to tighten border inspections. That could affect border crossings here in northern Vermont and other border states. Bush administration officials say the proposal will result in tighter security measures, more inspections and longer traffic tie-ups as well as disrupt the more than $1 billion a day in trade between the two countries, according to The Associated Press. Canadian newspapers are reporting that penalties on dealers, growers and others in the illegal drug trade would be stiffened. Vermont law enforcement officials say decriminalization will affect the fight to reduce the amount of marijuana coming here from Canada. Jennings said there will undoubtedly be an impact on Vermont crime. He oversees the Vermont Drug Task Force, among other special units. Illegal growers in Canada have been perfecting the quality of marijuana grown hydroponically, using fertilizers, lights and the right strains to achieve a fast-growing plant that has more drug in it. It's valuable, and it's attracting a lot of crime. The value of the marijuana is much higher, some saying $8,000 a pound. Vermont police have seen dealers use a helicopter to sneak marijuana across the border into the Northeast Kingdom, and they have seen a murder in Texas that has a connection with a Vermont drug bust, Jennings said Tuesday. "This is not the marijuana of the '60s," he said. Aside from Canadian marijuana potency, Jennings and other U.S. officials don't like Canada setting an example that marijuana is OK to use. Once marijuana is treated differently, more people will experiment with it, he said. More Canadian residents and American tourists will have access to it in Canada, and bring that sentiment back home. Legalizing marijuana doesn't end abuse, Jennings said. "The most abused drug in the world is legal - alcohol," he said. Jennings remained hopeful that U.S. political pressure, and warnings that the border will be tightened, will change the minds of Canadian leaders.
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 1:57:56 AM EDT
Originally Posted By gaspain: [url]http://www.caledonianrecord.com/pages/top_news/story/b6210ab9a[/url] Vermont Police Worry Move Will Impact Crime Here Pot Laws In Canada About To Ease Up BY ROBIN SMITH, Staff Writer Wednesday May 14, 2003 Canada is on the verge of liberalizing marijuana possession laws, and Vermont law enforcement officers - like others in the United States - aren't happy.
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Actually, what they are thinking about doing is making the possession laws about equivalent to what they are in more than 20 US states.
"We are pretty concerned," said Capt. Michael P. Jennings, special investigations unit commander of the Vermont State Police. "It isn't just the weed, it's the crime that goes with it."
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Actually, there is very little crime associated with marijuana, other than the making, shipping, and possessing of marijuana itself. The only drug with any real association with drug-induced violent crime is alcohol. The violence associated with illegal drugs is almost entirely "systemic" -- that is, it is a product of the system of prohibition -- turf fights between drug dealers, for example.
Jennings said the increasingly powerful hydroponic marijuana smuggled across the border now is more valuable than ever to drug dealers who are seeking U.S. markets. The pressure on the world's friendliest border will only increase if possession is not a crime across Canada.
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Then why hasn't Canada been complaining that several US states have already enacted the same kind of laws they are thinking of passing?
A bill to reduce the crime of possessing a small amount of marijuana to the equivalent of a traffic ticket is likely to be introduced into the Canadian parliament later this week.
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This is after two major parliamentary commissions studied the issue. One recommended decriminalization even more extensive than what is being considered, and the other recommended full legalization. Of course, those are the first government commissions to come to those conclusions. Every major government commission in history has reached essentially the same conclusions.
Jails terms and criminal records for such offenses would be eliminated and fines of $100 would be imposed instead, according to the Canadian Press.
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Exactly what it already is in California, as well as a couple dozen other states.
Possession of a small amount of marijuana in northern Vermont might mean a $300 fine for a first-time offender, based on recent Orleans County District Court cases. However, the offender would still have a criminal record.
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So they think that a 200 dollar difference in the fine is going to make the sky fall.
The White House has said that if marijuana possession is decriminalized in Canada, the United States will have to tighten border inspections. That could affect border crossings here in northern Vermont and other border states.
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Uuuuuh, right. They seize more marijuana at the Mexican border on a good day than they seize at the Canadian border in an entire year. If you come across the border to Mexico at San Ysidro (south of San Diego) carrying marijuana, you will be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, based on the amount of mj you are carrying. The dividing line is 150 pounds. That is, if you are carrying less than 150 pounds, you will get a misdemeanor. The reason is that they catch so many people with 150 pounds or more that they don't have the resources to prosecute lesser amounts as felonies. And they are going to tighten up on the Canadian border to fix things. Right.
Bush administration officials say the proposal will result in tighter security measures, more inspections and longer traffic tie-ups as well as disrupt the more than $1 billion a day in trade between the two countries, according to The Associated Press.
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Richard Nixon tried that with Operation Intercept. It disrupted the flow of mj across the Mexican border for about a month. It also caused huge economic damage because of the trade disruption, prompted a lot of pot smokers to move on to more dangerous drugs because their drug of choice wasn't available, and triggered the development of the domestic marijuana production industry. In short, it was such a disaster that they have never seriously considered it again until now.
Canadian newspapers are reporting that penalties on dealers, growers and others in the illegal drug trade would be stiffened.
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Which would pretty much leave them with the same legal situation that we had with alcohol during alcohol prohibition. That was a disaster, too.
Vermont law enforcement officials say decriminalization will affect the fight to reduce the amount of marijuana coming here from Canada.
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And, if they ever manage to have any actual impact on the flow of mj across the border, it will just make it more profitable for the US domestic growers, who will then grow more. Same thing that happened before.
Jennings said there will undoubtedly be an impact on Vermont crime. He oversees the Vermont Drug Task Force, among other special units.
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He wouldn't care to be specific about what that impact would be, would he? I didn't think so.
Illegal growers in Canada have been perfecting the quality of marijuana grown hydroponically, using fertilizers, lights and the right strains to achieve a fast-growing plant that has more drug in it.
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Naturally. Prohibition has made the stuff more valuable than gold.
It's valuable, and it's attracting a lot of crime. The value of the marijuana is much higher, some saying $8,000 a pound.
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Only if you sell it in the smallest possible amounts at the highest possible price.
Vermont police have seen dealers use a helicopter to sneak marijuana across the border into the Northeast Kingdom, and they have seen a murder in Texas that has a connection with a Vermont drug bust, Jennings said Tuesday.
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Hmmmm, what is it they seem to have forgotten about the effects of alcohol prohibition? The smuggling and murders, maybe?
"This is not the marijuana of the '60s," he said.
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Yeah, on average, it is only slightly stronger. Alcohol prohibition drove beer out of the market in favor of whiskey, too.
Aside from Canadian marijuana potency, Jennings and other U.S. officials don't like Canada setting an example that marijuana is OK to use.
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I guess they didn't catch the fact that there will still be a fine, and the laws aren't any looser than the laws in about half the US states.
Once marijuana is treated differently, more people will experiment with it, he said. More Canadian residents and American tourists will have access to it in Canada, and bring that sentiment back home.
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Research consistently shows that law enforcement has almost zero effect on curbing marijuana use. But they are correct that looser laws across the border will show that the sky doesn't fall when marijuana laws are loosened. That will be a big blow to their propaganda machine.
Legalizing marijuana doesn't end abuse, Jennings said. "The most abused drug in the world is legal - alcohol," he said.
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Yes, and we tried prohibiting that and the abuse just got worse.
Jennings remained hopeful that U.S. political pressure, and warnings that the border will be tightened, will change the minds of Canadian leaders.
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Don't count on it. I have talked to a couple of members of the Canadian Parliament. There is a growing realization that the US really has its head up its ass on drug laws.
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 2:05:20 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 3:09:18 AM EDT
Still not sure why its illegal. Crack yeah it not anything that you can just pick same with coke. Its a plant and has the effects it has for a reason and I am sick of these campaigns that try telling me how bad it is. 6 beers will screw you up way more then 6 joints probaly wont still be awake after 6 joints. Ah screw I dont smoke but know alot who do and see nothing wrong with it.
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 3:17:43 AM EDT
Originally Posted By TREETOP: Good post, wolfman97.
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Agreed
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 3:18:54 AM EDT
Never used the crap. So I could really care less about it...
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 3:37:46 AM EDT
Well currently the laws are ridiculous on the use of it. If caught with a plant you can get 20 years with out chance of parole. So that shit needs to change when I can kill some one and get 4 years for being on good behavior.
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 3:42:15 AM EDT
I don't smoke the stuff either, but wolfman's right on many points there. How many belligerant potheads you hear of? How many belligerant drunks you have heard of? It's hideous on your lungs, that's why I don't do mj or tobacco. But hell junk food is legal, look at all the shit food in a grocery store, and all the fat ass kids in [i]high school[/i]. Peaople with heart and lung problems in their 30's?? The only reasons we're living longer are drugs and the advancements in medical procedures and technology. I think if we ever got to the point where every damn thing that is bad or unhealthy was illegal, and could only eat fish, poultry, and fruit, the damn coutry would go nuts and kill each other with rocks!
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 9:08:08 AM EDT
Originally Posted By snipley: Still not sure why its illegal. Crack yeah it not anything that you can just pick same with coke. Its a plant and has the effects it has for a reason and I am sick of these campaigns that try telling me how bad it is. 6 beers will screw you up way more then 6 joints probaly wont still be awake after 6 joints. Ah screw I dont smoke but know alot who do and see nothing wrong with it.
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It was originally outlawed because: 1) All Mexicans are crazy and marijuana makes them crazy and, 2) the belief that heroin addiction would lead to the use of marijuana (Yes, just exactly the opposite of the modern justification for the laws.) You can read the story at [url]http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/whiteb1.htm[/url] It is a fascinating story and it would be funny at times if it wasn't true. It continues to be illegal because of abject ignorance and bigotry, and because prohibition is big business. Consider, for example, all the money spent on drug testing (primarily aimed at mj), all the toys for cops, the fact that every government agency of any type gets some type of funds to "fight the drug war", etc., etc. Take away prohibition and you are stepping on a lot of big financial toes.
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 9:13:04 AM EDT
Originally Posted By NME: Never used the crap. So I could really care less about it...
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I can understand that, but consider this. About half of our criminal justice resources are taken up fighting the drug war -- a huge amount of it directly related to marijuana. If we changed the laws we could effectively double the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, which would have a huge impact on crime. Historically speaking, drug prohibition laws drive the gun prohibition laws. The first example was the National Firearms Act at the end of alcohol prohibition. As long as we have drug prohibition and all the related effects on crime, the anti-gun crowd will have a hell of a lot of ammo to throw against us. If you want to protect your right to own guns, the best place to start would be by reforming the drug laws. I submit that it would have been impossible to stop the NFA of 1933 as long as alcohol prohibition was making the homicides skyrocket.
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 9:20:16 AM EDT
Originally Posted By wolfman97:
Originally Posted By snipley: Still not sure why its illegal. Crack yeah it not anything that you can just pick same with coke. Its a plant and has the effects it has for a reason and I am sick of these campaigns that try telling me how bad it is. 6 beers will screw you up way more then 6 joints probaly wont still be awake after 6 joints. Ah screw I dont smoke but know alot who do and see nothing wrong with it.
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It was originally outlawed because: 1) All Mexicans are crazy and marijuana makes them crazy and, 2) the belief that heroin addiction would lead to the use of marijuana (Yes, just exactly the opposite of the modern justification for the laws.) You can read the story at [url]http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/whiteb1.htm[/url] It is a fascinating story and it would be funny at times if it wasn't true.
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Another not-so-well-known fact about the beginning of cannabis prohibition. It started in the 1930's, but Anslinger had a hard time coming up with a constitutional way to outlaw dope. Then in 1934, the NFA and it's tax-stamp scheme was passed. The idea was that full auto guns would still be legal, but you had to buy a prohibitively expensive tax stamp (which would never be granted) in order to do so legally. This was thought to be an effective way to ban the guns without infringeing on the 2nd amendment. Anslinger adopted the exact same scheme, except with marijuana. For a while, you could possess marijuana if you had the bureaucratically-unobtainable tax stamp to go with it. I haven't heard about the marijuana tax stamp loophole for a while, I think the only state that took it seriously was Arizona.
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 9:37:27 AM EDT
I worked Narcotics for a while and my supervisors would fire me instantly for what I'm about to post here: Having worked countless alcohol-related MVA's, I would rather have a driver in the oncoming lane who just smoked a joint than one who just chugged a 6-pack. The doper will cling to the right side of the lane and creep along below the speed limit while the drunk will veer over the left side into the oncoming lane. This is based upon experience not some bullshit statistics, so if anyone has some bullshit statistics to share please keep them to yourself. I've already heard them all.
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 9:39:47 AM EDT
Originally Posted By raven: Another not-so-well-known fact about the beginning of cannabis prohibition. It started in the 1930's, but Anslinger had a hard time coming up with a constitutional way to outlaw dope.
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Minor qualification. The first state laws against it started circa 1914. It was outlawed at the national level with the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. You can find the full transcripts for the congressional hearings at [url]http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/taxact/taxact.htm[/url]
Then in 1934, the NFA and it's tax-stamp scheme was passed. The idea was that full auto guns would still be legal, but you had to buy a prohibitively expensive tax stamp (which would never be granted) in order to do so legally. This was thought to be an effective way to ban the guns without infringeing on the 2nd amendment. Anslinger adopted the exact same scheme, except with marijuana.
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That scheme was originally developed with the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914. The people who wrote it knew that an outright prohibition on drugs would be unconstitutional so they wrote it as "revenue" measure. The idea was that the US Government was allowed to levy taxes and those taxes could be in any amount, even to the point where the tax effectively amounted to prohibition. That's also explained in the history of the laws I linked.
For a while, you could possess marijuana if you had the bureaucratically-unobtainable tax stamp to go with it.
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Which had the consequence of completing stop all scientific research into these drugs for several decades. Actually, you still can with the proper license. Good luck getting the license, though. No chance unless you agree ahead of time that your research will agree with the government's pre-conceived notions. It should be a lesson for gun owners everywhere. All they have to do to prohibit something is to require a license and then not issue any licenses.
I haven't heard about the marijuana tax stamp loophole for a while, I think the only state that took it seriously was Arizona.
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There are a few states that have similar tax stamp laws. But the purpose is not to allow people to possess it legally. The primary purpose is to assess additional fines for tax violations against people who possess it illegally. (Let's see . . . putting people in jail for it has been a total failure, so fining them will be . . .)
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 9:44:18 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Pale_Rifle: I worked Narcotics for a while and my supervisors would fire me instantly for what I'm about to post here: Having worked countless alcohol-related MVA's, I would rather have a driver in the oncoming lane who just smoked a joint than one who just chugged a 6-pack. The doper will cling to the right side of the lane and creep along below the speed limit while the drunk will veer over the left side into the oncoming lane. This is based upon experience not some bullshit statistics, so if anyone has some bullshit statistics to share please keep them to yourself. I've already heard them all.
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Actually, the statistics support what you say. The US Government's own research on the subject consistently says that marijuana is not a major hazard on the roads and certainly nothing in comparison to alcohol. The full text of a lot of the research on that topic is online at [url]http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer[/url] That is also consistent with the research done in other countries. In fact, as strange as it may seem, recent research in Australia indicates that pot smokers may be even safer than sober people on the road, for just exactly the reasons you mentioned. They realize they are mildly impaired and drive far more cautiously to compensate. (Not that I recommend driving while impaired on anything.) Don't expect to hear the US Government tell you any of that, though.
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 9:45:04 AM EDT
Thanks for clearing up my post, wolfman [:)]
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 9:55:46 AM EDT
"Jennings said the increasingly powerful hydroponic marijuana smuggled across the border now is more valuable than ever to drug dealers who are seeking U.S. markets. The pressure on the world's friendliest border will only increase if possession is not a crime across Canada." BS detector: Marijuana does not become more powerful by growing it hydroponically. Only a clueless moron would think so. The potency of marijuana is dictated by the genetics of that strain. Does not matter whether it's grown in hydro or in soil. What's really pathetic is that we have idiots that know nothing about marijuana that create the laws against it, kinda like Feinstink and Schumer making laws about guns. Free the herb.
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 9:58:21 AM EDT
"The White House has said that if marijuana possession is decriminalized in Canada, the United States will have to tighten border inspections. That could affect border crossings here in northern Vermont and other border states." You would think that with our war on terror and other recent happenings that out borders would be tighten anyway. So, we don't tighten our border because of terrorism but with the threat of high potency canadian marijuana we will circle the wagons and tighten even more, absolutely rediculous, you guys actually voted to put these idiots in power???
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 11:10:49 AM EDT
I am against most of the drug laws. The laws that were originally enacted to fight drugs have been adapted to other areas. The most heinous are: Search and Seizure laws. - These laws are now being adapted to gun laws, traffic enforcement and other crimes such as prostitution. No knock warrants. - Nuff said here. I also think that the war on drugs is the major reason for the militarization of our police forces. I don't particularly like drugs, but I don't think prohibition works. Prohibition has only made the problem worse.
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 12:04:06 PM EDT
Its not being decriminalized thu if it was there would be no fine what so ever.
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 12:08:15 PM EDT
Originally Posted By darealickt:
Originally Posted By TREETOP: Good post, wolfman97.
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Agreed
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[img]http://www.2endure.com/largedunk.gif[/img]
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 12:17:52 PM EDT
It is all so silly. I know cops who can't wait to retire, so they can smoke pot! [:D]
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 4:04:31 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Emoto: It is all so silly. I know cops who can't wait to retire, so they can smoke pot! [:D]
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my uncle is an electrical lineman he always says the first thing he is going to do after retirement is smoke a cucumber sized joint
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 4:37:32 PM EDT
Originally Posted By NME: Never used the crap. So I could really care less about it...
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"I don't own guns, who cares if they're banned"....[rolleyes]
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 4:44:23 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Hellraiser: You would think that with our war on terror and other recent happenings that out borders would be tighten anyway. So, we don't tighten our border because of terrorism but with the threat of high potency canadian marijuana we will circle the wagons and tighten even more, absolutely rediculous, you guys actually voted to put these idiots in power???
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And THAT is a damn good point!!
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 4:45:22 PM EDT
LEGALIZE IT.
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 4:49:41 PM EDT
I know of alot of others in law enforcement that would rather that grass be legalized too. This one act alone would completely fix our prison overcrowding so that we could pack away some REAL trash.
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 5:18:47 PM EDT
Well the law didnt pass here a while ago. They had planned to make it legal to own 2 ounces or less in your home. However the news said you could make 100 joints for one ounce lol my ass. Any how big campaign from church groups etc so didnt pass.
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 6:53:39 PM EDT
Originally Posted By wolfman97: Historically speaking, drug prohibition laws drive the gun prohibition laws.
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Yep, that's my big concern. I have never smoked the stuff, and have little desire to ever do so. However, this is just another example of our government trying to protect us from ourselves: Get the citizens accustomed to being "protected" from one evil, and they'll be more inclined to accept "protection" against other "evils".
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 7:39:49 PM EDT
While I fully support my president...... You will NEVER see this in the U.S. as long as there is a Republican in the White House. I value my 2nd Amendment rights MORE, but it's still sad.
Link Posted: 5/16/2003 9:59:02 PM EDT
If you legalize it, then maybe we can make it a CRP crop and the govt will pay you not to grow it. Probably be cheaper to do it this way. GRIN
Link Posted: 5/17/2003 3:08:53 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/17/2003 3:23:57 AM EDT by AR15fan]
Originally Posted By gaspain: Jails terms and criminal records for such offenses would be eliminated and fines of $100 would be imposed instead
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That's the law for less than an ounce in California. About 85% of the highschool kids I contact are in possession of marijuana. It's become a staus symbol. Your not a real Gangsta if you dont have some Chronic.... More teenagers here smoke marijuana than cigarettes. The only problems I see with marijuana are driving under the influence of it, and the dangerous & reckless behavior from impaired judgement.
Link Posted: 5/17/2003 4:30:39 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/17/2003 8:27:03 AM EDT
Originally Posted By MisterGreens: LEGALIZE IT.
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Not surprising that a sentiment like that would come from a guy who calls himself MISTERGREENS!
Link Posted: 5/17/2003 8:28:02 AM EDT
Originally Posted By AR15fan: About 85% of the highschool kids I contact are in possession of marijuana. It's become a staus symbol. Your not a real Gangsta if you dont have some Chronic.... More teenagers here smoke marijuana than cigarettes.
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Exactly the same thing occurred with alcohol during alcohol prohibition. If you want to read some really good quotes from that time period see http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/debate/miranda_devine.htm
The only problems I see with marijuana are driving under the influence of it, and the dangerous & reckless behavior from impaired judgement.
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Both of which can be addressed without a general prohibition law, just as they are for alcohol. Here is a statement from a good friend of mine on the subject of the WOD: http://www.drugpolicy.org/library/judgegray_may2003.cfm This Time It Matters Gray, James, "This Time It Matters." Liberty Magazine. May, 2003; 17(5). For more than two decades I was a soldier in the War on Drugs. In the course of my career, I have helped put drug users and dealers in jail; I have presided over the break-up of families; I have followed the laws of my state and country, and have seen their results. At one point, I held the record for the largest drug prosecution in the Los Angeles area: 75 kilos of heroin, which was and is a lot of narcotics. But today the record is 18 tons. I have prosecuted some people, and later sentenced others, to long terms in prison for drug offenses, and would do so again. But it has not done any good. I have concluded that we would be in much better shape if we could somehow take the profit out of the drug trade. Truly the drugs are dangerous, but it is the drug money that is turning a disease into a plague. I saw the heartbreaking results of drug prohibition too many times in my own courtroom. I saw children tempted by adults to become involved in drug trafficking for $50 in cash, a lot of money to a youngster in the inner city, or almost anywhere else. Once the child's reliability has been established in his roles as a lookout or "gofer," he is soon trusted to sell small amounts of drugs, which, of course, results in greater profits both for the adult dealer and his protege. The children sell these drugs, not to adults, but to their peers, thus recruiting more children into a life of taking and selling drugs. I saw this repeated again and again. But like others in the court system, I didn't talk about it. More than once, I saw a single mother who made a big mistake: she chose the wrong boyfriend, a drug dealer. One day, he offered her $400 to carry a particular package across town and give it to a fellow dealer. She strongly suspected that it contained drugs, but she needed the money to pay her rent. So she did it, and she was arrested, convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for the transportation of cocaine. Since the mother legally abandoned her children because she could not take care of them, they all came to me, in juvenile court, to be dealt with as abused and neglected children. I tell these mothers that unless they are really lucky and have a close personal friend or family member that is both willing and able to take care of them until she is released from custody, her children will probably be adopted by somebody else. That is usually enough to make the mother hysterical. Taxpayers shouldn't be very happy, either. Not only does it cost about $25,000 to keep the mother in prison for the next year; it also costs about $5000 per month to keep a child in a group home until adoption. For a family of a mother and two children, that means that our local government has to spend about $145,000 of taxpayer money for the first year simply to separate a mother from her children. And it falls upon me to enforce this result. I do it, because I am required by my oath of office to follow the law. But there came a time when I could be quiet about this terrible situation no longer. I concluded that helping to repeal drug prohibition was the best and most lasting gift I could make to my country. On April 8, 1992, I held a press conference outside the Courthouse in Santa Ana and recommended that we as a country investigate the possibility of change. Since that time, I have spoken on this subject as often as possible, consistent with getting my cases tried. Most people listen; some agree, and others still want to punish me for my attempts to have an open and honest discussion of drug policy. In that vein, I remember a short introduction I once received before one of my talks, which was along the lines of: "I know you all want to hear the latest dope from the courthouse, so here's Judge Gray."
Link Posted: 5/17/2003 8:28:36 AM EDT
continued: During the next few years, I worked on a book to expose the whole hopeless anti-drug crusade. In 2001, my book, Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed And What We Can Do About It -- A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs, was published by Temple University Press. It was the culmination of my experience as a former federal prosecutor with the United States Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, criminal defense attorney in the United States Navy JAG Corps, and trial judge in Orange County, California since 1983, experience which had long before had convinced me that our nation's program of drug prohibition was not simply a failure, but a hopeless failure. In February, 2003, I took another step to end the War on Drugs. After being a Republican for all of my adult life, I registered as a dues-paying member of the Libertarian Party. I realized that the major parties will never begin the process of ending the War on Drugs. It takes another party to do that -- one that holds dear the principles of liberty. I had taken the "World's Smallest Political Quiz," and discovered that I was already a libertarian. I was frustrated and concerned about our country's lack of principled leadership, the direction of our economy, and the continued subversion of the protections of our Bill of Rights. The Libertarian Party is my natural home. And it is the Libertarian Party's historic mission to begin the peace process in the War on Drugs. Drug Prohibition has resulted in a greater loss of civil liberties than anything else in the history of our country. The United States of America leads the world in the incarceration of its people, mostly for non-violent drug offenses. Statistics show that all racial groups in our country use and abuse drugs at basically the same rate, but most of those incarcerated are people of color. The War on Drugs has contributed substantially to the increasing power, bureaucracy, and intrusiveness of government. And, of course, the sale of illicit drugs is by far the largest source of funding for terrorists around the world. If we were truly serious about fighting terrorism we would kill the "Golden Goose" of terrorism, which is Drug Prohibition. It is important to understand that the failure of these laws is not the fault of law enforcement. It makes as much sense to blame the police and the criminal justice system for the failure of Drug Prohibition as it would have to blame Elliot Ness for the failure of Alcohol Prohibition. The tragic results are the fault of the drug laws themselves, and not those who have been assigned the impossible task of enforcing them. "We the People" are facing radicals at the controls of the federal government who are insensitive if not impervious to the harm they are causing. When the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration expressly flouts the will of the people as expressed, for example, by California's medical marijuana Proposition 215, that is one thing. He is a policeman, enforcing the law as ordered, even though he is engaged in the unauthorized practice of medicine. But what about when the head of the Department of Justice subverts that will? When John Ashcroft, as the United States Attorney General, directly acts against the expressed will of the people in this area, simply because he disagrees with it, he is not being conservative. We should call this action what it is: extremist. And when various officials of the federal government use our tax money actively to oppose state ballot initiatives all around the country, we should call that what it is: illegal. The Republican and Democratic parties are invested in the drug war, committed to it. If we wait for them to act against Drug Prohibition, we will be waiting a very long time. However, we Libertarians are singularly in a position to help. I suggest that the Libertarian Party make the issue of the repeal of Drug Prohibition the centerpiece issue of all state and federal political campaigns for 2004. I understand that R. W. Bradford made a similar argument in speeches over the past several years, and in an article in the December 1999 edition of Liberty Magazine, and so possibly have others. The idea is not original with me, but it is a good idea. I am aware that historically the Libertarian Party has been largely unsuccessful in putting its candidates into office. But that can change, and in many ways the voters are ahead of the politicians on this issue. If we can make it clear that every vote for a state or federal Libertarian candidate represents a vote to end the War on Drugs, and we capture only a third of the votes of people who favor drug reform, we will get ten percent of the vote. That would be enough to make us a political force to be reckoned with and to put the drug war into the nation's political debate. I want to make this very clear. If we focus our campaign on the drug issue, people who agree with us will not worry about "throwing away their vote" on a third-party candidate. For a change, every vote will rightfully be seen to matter. Many Americans have seen and suffered through the unnecessary harms perpetrated by our failed drug policy. And many of these people are organized. Recently I have contacted all the drug policy reform groups I know, such as the Drug Policy Alliance, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Common Sense for Drug Policy, Families Against Three Strikes, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the Marijuana Policy Project, and the Drug Policy Foundations of Texas, Hawaii and New Mexico. I am calling their members to join me and become dues-paying members of the Libertarian Party, and am requesting their friends and family members to do the same. Please join me in this critical effort. The people in these drug policy reform groups are frustrated by the absence of a tangible national movement that they can support. In addition, in many ways they have learned through their experiences to share libertarian principles and values. The more people who register Libertarian, the more public attention will be paid to the issue of drug policy reform. This, in turn, will attract additional members, and additional attention. I think this plan will be successful, because most of the people in these groups are active; they are committed; they vote; and they have friends who vote. Most Americans realize that our country is not in better shape today than we were five years ago with regard to the use and abuse of drugs and all the harm and misery that accompany them. They also are beginning to understand that since that is the case, we can have no legitimate expectation of being in better shape next year than we are today unless we change our approach. Accordingly, many of our fellow citizens are beginning to realize that it is okay to discuss this subject. And, whether they know it or not, Americans are looking to the Party of Principle for guidance and leadership. Our slogan for all state and federal elections in 2004 should be "This Time It Matters." Because this time it does. James P. Gray is a Judge of the Superior Court in Orange County, California, the author of Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed And What We Can Do About It - A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs, Temple University Press (2001), and has a website at www.judgejimgray.com. Copyrighted material. Reprinted by permission.
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