Where The War on Pot Will Go To Die

May 24, 2014

In some states, there’s an unten­able mis­match between the crime and the time, but does any­one think that pot—medical or recreational—will still be ille­gal in 10 years? Now that a major­ity of Americans—54% and climb­ing, accord­ing to Pew Research—believe that mar­i­juana should be treated like beer, wine and liquor, it’s time to ask: where does the war on pot go to die? What episode will trig­ger that final skir­mish that kicks over the hollowed-out edi­fice of mar­i­juana pro­hi­bi­tion like the Berlin Wall? What will be the final out­rage against com­mon sense and com­mon decency that trig­gers an Arab Spring for weed in these U.S.? Twenty-one states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia already have med­ical mar­i­juana (with more to come), and full legal­iza­tion has gained 13 per­cent­age points in just the past five years. Iron­i­cally, what­ever ends the war on pot won’t hap­pen in Col­orado or Wash­ing­ton, which have already legal­ized recre­ational pot and have received vague promises from Attor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder that the feds won’t bust peo­ple and busi­nesses who com­ply with state laws. Col­orado is fur­ther along in the retail process than Wash­ing­ton (where pot shops won’t open until mid-July), and so far the only prob­lem of note is that the state is rak­ing in 40% more tax rev­enue than orig­i­nally pro­jected. Look instead to places such as Round Rock, Texas, where 19-year-old Jacob Lavoro faces a sen­tence between five and 99 years for allegedly sell­ing a 1.5-pound slab of hash brown­ies. Under state law, sell­ing up to five pounds of plain old pot is pun­ish­able by no more than two years in the clink and a $10,000 fine. But hash, a con­cen­trated form of pot, is con­sid­ered a con­trolled sub­stance and even the tiny amount in Lavoro’s brown­ies qual­i­fies him for what amounts to a poten­tial life sen­tence. Through a con­vo­luted ratio­nale, you see, the law can count all the brownie ingredients—the eggs, but­ter, flour, cocoa—as hash. Oh well, everything’s big­ger in Texas, includ­ing the uncon­scionable mis­match between the crime and the time. If he was only a cou­ple of states away, Lavoro wouldn’t be fac­ing jail, he’d be a suc­cess­ful entre­pre­neur. That sort of mind-blowing dis­junc­ture is exactly the sort of thing that takes the fight out of the war on pot. Or look to recent com­ments made by FBI direc­tor James Comey, who admit­ted that he can’t hire the 2,000 cyber-crime fight­ers the bureau needs to pro­tect Amer­ica because of work­place drug tests. “I have to hire a great work force to com­pete with those cyber crim­i­nals and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the inter­view,” Comey said. He was upbraided by Sen. Jeff Ses­sions (R-Ala.) for pro­vid­ing yet “one more exam­ple of lead­er­ship in Amer­ica dis­miss­ing the seri­ous­ness of mar­i­juana use.” What­ever you can say about Comey, he’s in good com­pany acknowl­edg­ing the ubiq­uity of pot smok­ing in today’s Amer­ica. Accord­ing to the lat­est gov­ern­ment data, 43% of Americans—including the three most recent presidents—have tried pot at least once. And when asked whether alco­hol or mar­i­juana is more harm­ful to soci­ety, fully 63% say booze and just 23% say pot. How much longer can the Jeff Ses­sions of the world hold back the tide of pub­lic opin­ion? And, finally, look to Cal­i­for­nia, which passed the nation’s first med­ical mar­i­juana bal­lot ini­tia­tive way back in 1996 and saw 46.5% vote in favor of recre­ational pot in a 2010 propo­si­tion. In 2011, fed­eral agents raided the oper­a­tions of busi­ness of dis­pen­sary owner and med­ical grower Aaron San­dusky. This came after repeated promises by the Obama admin­is­tra­tion that it wouldn’t go after med­ical pot providers who were oper­at­ing within state law. And even though offi­cials from the city of Upland, which had tipped off the feds, later admit­ted in court that San­dusky was oper­at­ing prop­erly within state law. San­dusky refused on prin­ci­ple to cop a plea because he thought he was in the right. Tried in fed­eral court, he was unable to offer a defense based on Cal­i­for­nia state law, San­dusky ended up pulling a 10-year sen­tece. In March of this year, he lost his final appeal. If he’s lucky and stays on good behav­ior, he’ll be out in 2021. Does any­one think that pot—medical or recreational—will still be ille­gal by then? As it hap­pens, San­dusky is doing time in Texas’ Big Spring Fed­eral Cor­rec­tional Insti­tute, which is only a four-hour drive from Jacob Lavoro’s home­town of Round Rock. As Lavoro pon­ders what­ever deal pros­e­cu­tors might offer him, he’d be smart to visit San­dusky and ask what life behind bars is like. Because while the war on pot is surely in its final stage, there will still be plenty of casu­al­ties before peace is declared. Source: Time Mag­a­zine (US) Author: Nick Gille­spie Pub­lished: May 23, 2014 Copy­right: 2014 Time Inc. Con­tact: letters@​time.​com Web­site: http://​www​.time​.com/​t​i​me/ Like this? Donate Bit­coin to Jamie1 at: 1GU8nbZBjvSHAxbDhvcGfCQ5i2bWeACwgU

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Where The War on Pot Will Go To Die

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