Thursday, December 09, 2004

Putting on my serious hat for a moment

Now, I don't smoke weed (my last inhale was back in 2001 - not that I don't like it, it just doesn't do much for me) but the way the laws in this country deal with marijuana use is, to put frankly, ass backwards. There's nothing to be gained from locking up first time offenders for marijuana use or small posession and blocking legalizing medicinal use or research... [Click here to continue] - that is, unless you happen to be a private security firm contracted to run a prison, pharmaceutical maker, a tobacco company, a brewer or simply a political opportunist.

So I was happy to learn that the arcane NY State Rockerfeller drug laws were reformed, even if only a little (Gothamist). Sentences for non-violent drug offenders will drop from 15 years-to-life to 8-20 years, and prisoners can petition to have their current sentences reduced.

Of course, it's easy to argue that the reform doesn't go far enough, as only 446 of 15,600 convicted drug offenders are eligible to have their sentences reduced (NY Times), not to mention the idiocy of locking up non-violent drug offenders and small time growers. Still, it's a step in the right direction and I hope more politicians grow some balls on this issue.

Meanwhile, a medical marijuana bill is making its way to the NY state legislature (The Village Voice), while the US Supreme Court will decide whether federal agents can arrest terminally ill patients who smoke medical marijuana legally.

Who knows how all this will play out, but the two issues - incarceration of small time users and medicinal marijuana - are not going to go away, and certainly not without a fight.

For more about the ganja in American society (plus illegal immigration and the porn industry), check out the very excellent Reefer Madness by Eric Schlosser (of Fast Food Nation fame).

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