Eric Holder : Wanted Return of Mandatory Minimums and Tougher Pot Penalties

As U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., Eric Holder sought to raise marijuana penalties and restore mandatory minimum penalties for drug crimes. From the Washington Times, December 5, 1996 (via Lexis.com):

Eric Holder yesterday said he will seek to make marijuana distribution in the District a felony and reinstate mandatory-minimum sentences for convicted drug dealers. Mr. Holder,...said the D.C. Council's vote a year ago to repeal mandatory minimums was "misguided," leading to a backlog in the court system. He also warned that the city is on the verge of an explosion in violence associated with the sale and use of marijuana.


"The truth of the matter is that marijuana is a significant problem for the city," said Mr. Holder in an interview. "Crack cocaine still drives most of the violence in this city, but marijuana violence is increasing. We need to nip it in the bud."

His proposals have two thrusts: The first involves setting minimum sentences of 18 months for first-time convicted drug dealers, 36 months for the second time and 72 months for every conviction thereafter.

Mr. Holder would also make the penalty for distribution and possession with intent to distribute marijuana a felony, punishable with up to a five-year sentence. Currently, the crime is a misdemeanor, regardless of the quantity of the marijuana or if the buyer is a child, Mr. Holder said.

The Washington Post, 7/12/2000 (Via Lexis.com):

The D.C. Council voted yesterday to toughen the maximum penalties for the distribution of marijuana, making it a felony subject to a five-year prison term rather than a one-year misdemeanor....Eric H. Holder Jr. began pushing for tougher marijuana penalties in the District in 1996, when he was the U.S. attorney.

Eric Holder in his March 20000 weekly briefing as Deputy AG on the need to target drug users:
(available on Lexis.com):

....[T]he violence that we saw in the early '90s, the late '80s was fueled by the rise in sale of crack cocaine and the violence that was connected to it.

In Washington, D.C., where I was the U.S. attorney, we attributed about one-half of all the homicides to the drug trade, and I don't think that's atypical. I think that's probably a pretty consistent figure that you'd see around the country. So if we deal effectively with the drug problem and the sale of drugs, the use of drugs, we'll also have a positive impact on the violence problem.

QUESTION: The sale and use of drugs in the United States, where is it? Is it holding even, is it going up slightly, has it been decreased? What's the status? I ask you to draw from yesterday's report.

HOLDER: Well, I mean, I think that, you know, we've made some major inroads in the drug problem but we don't have -- I mean, if you think back there was a Time magazine article I remember on -- a cover story on cocaine and -- this was sometime back in the late '80s -- and at that point, I remember reading the article and the article seemed to indicate that, you know, it was drug[s] being used by the middle class and that there were not many consequences for that use. We obviously know that that is not true now.

We really have to concentrate on the hard-core drug users that continue to use drugs, continue to have negative impacts on the communities in which they live, and so we have to redouble our efforts I think in that regard.

QUESTION: Is consumption (OFF-MIKE)?

HOLDER: You know, I don't -- I think, as opposed to the late -- I don't -- it depends on the time frame. Certainly, I think, as opposed to the late '80s and the early '90s, I think consumption is down. But that's only one of the measures as to whether or not we're getting a handle on the drug problem.

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  • Display: Sort:
    just say no (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by Jlvngstn on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 08:54:56 PM EST
    to anyone that draconian on drug laws.....

    holder on weed (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by jharp on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 09:42:19 PM EST
    I certainly am disappointed to hear Holder's comments regarding marijuana.

    Though it is from 1996 and I'm hoping he has seen the light. I'd kind of be surprised if he hasn't.

    Time will tell.

    Say what? (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by lentinel on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 10:26:54 PM EST
    "Marijuana violence is increasing".
    Call the police. Marijuana violence is on the rise.

    "Marijuana" - "violence"?

    Is he kidding?

    I have never seen anyone who is smoking marijuana get violent - ever.

    Drinking - yes.
    But that's alright.

    But --- Marijuana violence.
    Call the police.
    Call out the national guard.
    Ring the bells.
    Sound the alarm.
    The redcoats are coming.

    It's all those knock down drag outs (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by nycstray on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 11:17:07 PM EST
    over the last piece of pizza . . .

    hey maaaan (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Howard Zinn on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 08:08:18 AM EST
    that's my slice of pie.

    no, it's mine -- remember?  I paid for it . . . wait a second . . . who ordered the pizza?

    I did and I'm going to kick your butt . . . unless you're chicken.

    Mmmmm . . . chicken.

    Does KFC deliver?

    Naw, man, I don't think so.  

    [surefire way to reduce "pot violence": make KFC deliver]


    Maybe Holder identifies himself (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Salo on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 08:56:24 AM EST
    with those helpless delicious potato chips, pizza slices and buffalo wings.

    The truly oppressed food groups of Munchieland.


    Well, before Reagan pot wasn't (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 08:48:09 AM EST
    a very valuable commodity.  The Reagan Administration went in and started buring pot fields and cracking down on anyone and everyone who had it - it became scarce - the price went up - the stakes were higher and the potential profits better - and thus was born a pretty serious professional industry that basically didn't exist before the anti-drug laws.

    So yes it did get more violent, but that was only because the trade attracted a whole different class of people.


    What a Wank Stain (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by kaleidescope on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 10:30:09 PM EST
    "explosion in violence associated with the sale and use of marijuana."

    Some people will say anything to further their careers.

    No the thing about Holder is that (none / 0) (#32)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 08:49:42 AM EST
    he really believed it and he probably still does.  He was a drug war believer from way back to his days as a judge in the District.

    Legalise It! (none / 0) (#2)
    by Blowback on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 09:02:47 PM EST
    Stop the crime. This is stupid; I was hoping for more from O.



    yup, I had already been leaning to (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by of1000Kings on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 02:29:15 AM EST
    slightly depressed about Obama even before the election...

    now I'm close to totally giving up on him even before he starts...

    I know this is going to sound bad, but how could African American males feel so strongly about keeping the people in their own communities behind bars and away from their families?  It just breeds a sense of hopelessness and thus more crime to put 1 out of every 10 young black males behind bars and treat them like they really were just animals, and not real humans, much less real americans...

    "In 2000 there were 791,600 black men in prison and 603,032 enrolled in college. In 1980, there were 143,000 black men in prison and 463,700 enrolled in college."

    astounding really, what the drug laws(and not the drugs) have done to the AA community...


    How? (none / 0) (#33)
    by Salo on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 08:52:29 AM EST
    look outside your window, that crunching sound you hear is man feeding on man. Black people are no different from the rest. Holder's just another judicial vampire.

    NORML (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Nasarius on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 07:27:54 AM EST
    What I love about NORML is that they've attracted some interesting and unexpected people to their cause, including Ann Druyan (wife of the late Carl Sagan) on their board of directors, and travel writer Rick Steves on their advisory board.

    It's scary to think of some of my friends in high school going to jail for 18 months just because they sold a few grams of pot now and then.  But what a vivid illustration of how most problems are not caused by the drug, but by the laws: "marijuana violence." It's astonishing that someone could use that term with a straight face, without pausing to think for a moment.


    Pot sleeping... (none / 0) (#34)
    by Salo on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 08:53:59 AM EST
    ...and couch potatoeyness is on the rise more likely.  Or maybe Holder's kid ate all the potato chips and he's pissed at the man on delicious fried potato slices crime wave.

    Where does Holder stand on 4th Amendment issues-- (none / 0) (#3)
    by jawbone on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 09:12:05 PM EST
    Just found this article over at The Agonist, posted by Tina from Raw Story, on how the government can track cell phones without assistance from the telcos -- by tricking the phones into thinking they're communicating with a cell phone tower.  

    Is this legal??? Constitutional?

    Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act request suggest that existing technology allows law enforcement to bypass wireless companies in locating individual cell phone users.

    Using "triggerfish" technology, mobile phones are tricked into transmitting their serial numbers, phone numbers and other data by posing as a cellular phone tower. Until now, it's been believed that such technology could only be successfully employed with the help of the telecoms themselves, because the specific location of the phone couldn't be traced with enough accuracy.

    But a document obtained by the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation from the Justice Department in a lawsuit and posted online last week says triggerfish can be deployed "without the user knowing about it and without involving the cell phone provider." (My emphasis)


    And perhaps yet another reason why Dems are so willing to roll over for BushCo....

    it's really sad when you can see the country (none / 0) (#17)
    by of1000Kings on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 02:31:06 AM EST
    blatantly trying to become a police-state or fascist/moral regime and there is almost nothing you can do about it...

    Hmmmm (none / 0) (#4)
    by easilydistracted on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 09:31:29 PM EST
    "The truth of the matter is that marijuana is a significant problem for the city," said Mr. Holder in an interview.  We need to nip it in the bud."

    Oh....come on now. This is bad in both substance and style.




    After having its bud nipped, right? (none / 0) (#29)
    by easilydistracted on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 08:38:41 AM EST
    Yes we can put more folks in prison. (none / 0) (#5)
    by JSN on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 09:38:54 PM EST

    18 Seattle Area residents (none / 0) (#56)
    by MoveThatBus on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 01:16:25 PM EST
    were arrested in two separate raids for growing marijuana last month.  These people face the possibility of 10 years to life, and $4M in fines.  

    Naomi Klein, author of "The Shock Doctrine" was interviewed recently and said the Obama administration would utilize the prison population as cheap labor in rebuilding the infrastructure.  We certainly have an abundance of non-violent people in prison, and increasing the punishment for marijuana would certainly keep the country amply supplied with labor.


    And I'm not suprised because.... (none / 0) (#9)
    by Pedalman on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 10:30:31 PM EST
    The transition team on CIA issues is a concern; Lieberman keeps chairmanship; Gates might stay in position.  Damn, I don't know but things are looking mighty conservative in this change I was suppose to believe in.

    Which is why Obama never made much clear about (none / 0) (#54)
    by jawbone on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 12:46:25 PM EST
    what the change would be.

    Now, all that's left is the hope part....


    Boy, I don't know (none / 0) (#10)
    by NYShooter on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 10:38:53 PM EST
    I didn't expect Ramsey Clark, but 100 years of punative should give a magna cum laude reason to question it's effectiveness....or desireability.

    Heck, I'm a football mill grad, and I know it ain't working, and never will.

    where the heck is (none / 0) (#11)
    by cpinva on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 10:54:15 PM EST
    harry anslinger, when he's really needed? oh, right, he's still dead. but, his fantasy lives on, in the form of politicians eager to make use of "anslinger's fairy tales" with regards to pot.

    that the penal industry rakes in huge bucks does, i submit, have lots more to do with the push for mandatory minimums, than any legitimate desire for reducing crime.

    lacking any scientific evidence for these claims never hurt a politician, because the average voter is an idiot.

    wha'ts funny/sad is that Anslinger (none / 0) (#18)
    by of1000Kings on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 02:41:25 AM EST
    himself said that he wasn't sure if all the propaganda about marijuana was true (propaganda he and his bureau of narcotics was releasing to the public)...

    Republicans have always been more about the ends than the means, and I'm guessing that may never change (weapons of mass destruction in Iraq)...

    it made for a great career for Anslinger, though...30+ years in fact in the US government...
    but I'm sure that had nothing to do with it...

    And Satan protested, "My disdain for Humanity is not greater than your hatred for yourself.... You are blessing Michael who never has come to your rescue.... You are cursing me in the hour of my defeat, even though I was, and still am, the source of your tranquillity and happiness.... You deny me your blessing, and extend not your kindness, but you live and prosper in the shadow of my being.... You have adopted for my existence an excuse and weapon for your career, and you employ my name in justification for your deeds.

    more Gibran (always relevant), Satan speaking to Father Samaan


    This is awful! (none / 0) (#13)
    by BrassTacks on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 11:24:17 PM EST
    DC has some serious crime problems.  Marijuana is NOT one of them.  What a freakin  waste of time, money, and energy.  Surely Obama could have found someone better than Eric Holder!  I am disappointed.  very.  

    What we had then were serious (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 09:13:28 AM EST
    poverty problems.

    We have fewer crime problems now more because the price of living in the District has gone way up so we don't have as many poor people - although we still do pretty well at topping poverty and unemployment lists.

    But if you go into our toughest neighborhoods you'll find all kinds of church-going ladies who embrace Holder's theory that if you get the drugs out of the community everything will be okay.  The reality is that that would likely just result in less money coming through the neighborhoods.

    The irony is that we had some of the most intense anti-pot laws in the District during the 80s and that was when our crime problems were really the worst.  The early 90's were no picnic either when we were the murder capital of the nation.  Arresting people for possession of a joint or a dime bag at one point was on a quota system for police.  My Dad had several cases that were more than a bit suspect which were products of our drug crackdown weeks or months.

    We spent a summer trying to throw a tiny plastic ziplock bag weighted with 2-3 grams of oregano from the refridgerator all the way down the countertop (about seven feet) and into a narrow opening (about 3 inches) and back to the inside of the cabinet (about 30-36 inches back on a right angle from the starting point) as the police had claimed his client had done.  

    Thousands of tries whilst hanging around the kitchen never resulted in a single person being able to do it - everyone who came over that summer was invited to try.  Those people who were the most threatened by the idea that the police could be proven wrong actually worked very hard to do it - but to no avail - it was impossible.  The police said that one of my Dad's clients was able to achieve this impossible feat in a local convenience store where he'd gone to get a couple of last minute items on the eve of Thanksgiving - he was cooking a turkey for his church - the client was ultimately acquitted.  His life would have been ruined had it gone the other way.


    this is change we can believe in (none / 0) (#14)
    by oldnorthstate on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 11:25:42 PM EST

    Obama swings and misses (none / 0) (#15)
    by Dadler on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 12:25:25 AM EST
    This info alone is enough for me to deem Holder an idiot.  Obama has picked a real "progressive".  Snark.

    Wodrow Wilson was a progressive (none / 0) (#80)
    by 1980Ford on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:18:50 PM EST
    Not reassuring (none / 0) (#19)
    by mmc9431 on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:42:32 AM EST
    With all the problems within the DOJ, I would have hoped Obama would have chosen someone who was passionate about restoring the independence and integrity to the dept. The new AG should have much higher priorities! Number one on his list has to be restoring the Constitution.

    A Giuliani fan. (none / 0) (#20)
    by Ben Masel on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:27:58 AM EST

    Holder said he hopes to discourage some of that activity by being tougher on marijuana crimes. New guidelines should be in place by the end of the month, he said, noting that the District could learn from New York's "zero-tolerance" policy. There, crime plummeted when police aggressively enforced quality-of-life crimes, including panhandling and public drinking, which gave officers an opportunity to check for drugs, guns and outstanding warrants.

    "If you take these so-called minor crimes seriously and treat them fully, it has a ripple effect," Holder said.

    heh (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Nasarius on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 07:32:37 AM EST
    After spending a number of months in Germany, it's rather strange that "public drinking" is considered a crime at all.

    And clearly those panhandlers are actually secret crime lords in disguise. If only we could stop them!


    The ripple effect... (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by kdog on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 08:31:15 AM EST
    I saw living under Guiliani's Iron Thumb was some of the best human beings I have ever known being saddled with arrest records, court dates, lawyer fees, fines, and general hassles from the state that no free American should ever be forced to deal with.

    to a certain extent, (none / 0) (#37)
    by OldCity on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 09:00:32 AM EST
    I sympathize.  But, in order to do drugs, you've got to associate with criminals.  You've got to commit a crime yourself.

    If you commit a gun crime, you deserve whatever you get.

    I'm not going to disagree about the stop and frisk.  But, no one has the right to commit a crime.  You can disagree with the drug laws...I do.  But, if you get caught violating them, knowing what they are and how draconian they are, who's stupid, the law or the law breaker?

    I'm not and never have been a drug user.  But I think the drug laws are insane, both a waste of resources and people.  But, I think the problem is more complex, and too much focus is put on the low level user rather than the distributors.  That said though,  when you knowingly break the law, you accept the risk if you get caught.  In general, courts aren't super sympathetic to people, even fine human beings, who knowingly break the law.  They just don't have the discretion.  

    I sympathize with your friends.  But they chose some risky behavior and they got caught, knowing what the penalty was.  


    Drug laws in the US... (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by Salo on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 09:13:13 AM EST
    ...are similar to the capricious hanging judges of 17th and 19th century England.

    Judge Turpin dons the black cap:

    Johnny P. Urchin age 8--I hear by sentence you to hang from the neck until death, for stealing a loaf of bread. Now stop crying boy this isn't the first time i've had you here before the court.

    it's absolutely insane to imprison people for self inflicted wounds or getting high. Because it kills off all the other values a society and civilization is supposed to have, the drug laws impoverish and break up families. The drug laws are a mockery of the rest of the law.


    I hear ya... (none / 0) (#40)
    by kdog on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 09:12:08 AM EST
    as a regular user of illegal substances, I'm well aware of the risks...and still take them.

    To me it is a choice between living free and pursuing happiness, while harming no one but myself...or submitting to what I view as tyranny.  And that is no choice at all...gotta be free...and come what may.

    No worries...I've gotten better at being sneaky as I've gotten older:)  Sneaky and lucky I guess, haven't had the chains slapped on me in years.


    Risks; They've got to search me LEGALLY first. (none / 0) (#49)
    by Ben Masel on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 10:21:02 AM EST
    Been arrestyed for possession 8 times, 7 dismissed as fruits of illegal searches, the 8 dismissed when the NY State Crime Cab lost the evidence.

    You're a man of principle Ben.... (none / 0) (#50)
    by kdog on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 10:31:39 AM EST
    all the victims of prohibition should follow your lead and fight any and all charges to the end.

    I'm a piker...the last time I pleaded guilty, on the advice of my attorney, out of convenience.  And that only enables this sh*t to go on and on.  Responsible drug users can be their own worst enemy...if all of the arrested and tyrannized fought it till the end, the system would likely collapse under its own tyrannical weight.  

    Problem is who has the time and resources to do that?  Ya pay the vig and get on with your life.


    where is the hashish John Lilburne? (none / 0) (#52)
    by Salo on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 10:58:52 AM EST
    It would probably require only one such intellect.

    Washington insider (none / 0) (#21)
    by koshembos on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 07:02:31 AM EST
    This what you got a rotten DC apple; all the prejudice, the holier than thou, throw away the key.

    This is real change from the centrists that call them self progressive. Fake people, fake change.

    Bifurcate, my friends... (none / 0) (#27)
    by OldCity on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 08:24:28 AM EST
    While I agree that the substance is fairly benign, the trade in it is not unprofitable.  Further, there's substantial violence related to to distribution.  So, while you can quibble over whether the users are "fighting over pizza", the reality is that the distributors kill each other and innocents over turf, supply, financial interest, etc.  

    My solution would be to legalize and regulate and tax.  Seemed to work with alcohol.  But, the US being the US, it's never, ever going to happen.  NEVER.  

    In the alternative, decrinimaling posession of small amounts will eliminate many arrests and incarcerations.  But, how do we address the larger problem of importation or domestic production and large scale distribution.  At what level do we assign significant penalty?

    The drug trade is an unbeleivably pure form of Darwinist capitalism.  To say otherwise simply wouldn't be truthful.  People die every day as a result of drug related violence, most of it over distribution and market rights.  Since demand isn't going away, and since we're not going to see wholesale legalization, who's got a workable solution?  


    It can't be controlled... (none / 0) (#38)
    by Salo on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 09:03:15 AM EST
    ...like that because it is a essentially a roadside weed in its natural state.  It literally used to be found everywhere and anywhere.

    So, (none / 0) (#31)
    by roger on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 08:48:32 AM EST
    Where is this "change"? just more of the same old failed policies.

    Sorry I bothered voting!

    Well... (none / 0) (#35)
    by kdog on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 08:54:54 AM EST
    ya could have voted for Nader rog:)

    If nothing else, it is a safe assumption he wouldn't have gone with an AG pick who says we don't lock up enough people over reefer.


    So, (none / 0) (#39)
    by OldCity on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 09:08:13 AM EST
    what's your answer?  How do you solve the larger problems that demand for the drug creates?

    If you want to make possession legal, then you create more demand.  That demand necessarily involves the foment of greater criminal enterprise; most of those grow through murder and intimindation.  So, there is a logical thread, here.  So, how do you deal with the larger problem that legal possession and usage creates?  Because the US is simply not going to leglaize and regulate the industry.

    That's not a straw man.  That's a consequence that you need to have an answer for if you're in favor of loose possession laws.  It's easy to turn a blind eye to the fact that people die as a result of an active drug trade, but if you  are a user, there is some culpability there.      


    Anyone can call for the complete legalization... (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by Salo on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 09:16:44 AM EST
    ...of the weed. It's completely logical. The Dutch do fine, we all adults here and can handle the effects of a mild psychoactive drug if we want to smoke it. If anything, the effect of the drug is to make people sit down and get overly introspective. Maybe the politicals don't want people sitting down thinking introspectively.  

    Easy... (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by kdog on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 09:18:16 AM EST
    Legalize sale and possesion using the existing alcohol/tobacco model.

    Harder drugs are a little trickier, but I'm sure we could figure out a way to legalize possesion and sale through a version of the pharmacy model.

    I never really bought the argument that ending prohibition will increase demand either.  Anectdotal...but I run in drug using circles, I never met anybody who didn't try a drug solely because it was illegal.  People do what drugs they wanna do regardless.


    Exactly... (none / 0) (#46)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 09:36:17 AM EST
    There is no pent-up demand out there made up of people who are waiting for pot to become legal before they smoke it.  It you want it, it is so very easy to find.  

    There's no bloddy pot-related drug wars doing on in places like Vancouver or Amsterdam either. The days of the Mexican/South American cartels controlling the marijuana supply are in their twilight.  Substances like meth, cocaine and heroin are much easier to transport and are much more profitable than pot.  



    That's not the point (none / 0) (#47)
    by OldCity on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 09:50:12 AM EST
    the point is that buying and selling in this climate has consequences.

    I'm not knocking anyone's preference.  But, the reality is that drug crime is horrific.  It's bad, and anyone who buys illegal drugs has some culpability...blaming the law is weak reasoning, the law preexisted your decision to use or buy.

    Pragmatically speaking, you know that it's not gonna be legalized.  Just isn't.  So you have  legal, logistical and moral issues to deal with.  Just because you want to get stoned, you're not innoculated when your dealer kills someone over turf.  Or when someone's (this happened in my neighborhood) hydroponic farm causes an electrical fire and kills some firemen and leaves neighbors homeless.

    It's bigger issue than self-gratification, and you're not being intellectually honest if you don't admit that.  


    It is.... (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by kdog on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 10:16:08 AM EST
    the bigger issue is individual liberty.

    The state has no right to prohibit the use or sale of drugs...it is an unalienable right to eat, drink, smoke, snort, or inject whatever you want into the body and mind the creator gave you.

    At least that is how I look at it...it's not about me selfishly wanting to get a buzz on without fear of arrest, it's about the grand experiment in indiviual liberty and the state not living up to their end of the bargain...preserving the liberty of the minority, in this case illegal drug users, from the tyranny of the majority, in this case the prohibitionists.


    LOL--I'm being intellectually dishonest? (none / 0) (#51)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 10:42:35 AM EST
    I never "blamed the laws", but I appreciate your attempt to move the goalposts.  In my case, it is not even close to being about "self-gratification", it is about quality of life and mitigating chronic pain.  So please spare me the lectures on "wanting to get stoned".

    Additionally, pot is legal where I live, so I don't buy your claim that it is "not gonna be legalized".  No blood running in the streets from dealers fighting over turf, no fires from grow lights either.  

    Now, if you want to talk about Meth, than that is a different discussion altogether.  But by lumping pot in with all other drugs, you're the one being intellectually dishonest.    

    I'll be waiting for you to tell me that I support teh terrorists next.    


    Is it legal (none / 0) (#53)
    by OldCity on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 11:31:33 AM EST
    to sell?  To grow?  Or only possess?

    "Legal" has a lot of meanings.  I'm all for not prosecuting users and I'm for the medical use of the stuff, primarily because there are worse criminals out there.  But, if you live anywhere near an urban area, you gotta know that there is violence associated with its sale.  I live in Philadelphia, and believe it, people shoot each other over the right to sell that sh!t.  All the fscking time.  So, don't tell me it doesn't happen and don't try to absolve yourself, or anyone else who buys an illegal product that people kill each other to sell, of some responsibility.  

    The issue isn't individual liberty...it's been long established that the government can, in fact, regulate behavior.  It has since the country was founded.    

    There is a huge difference between legal possession and the rest.  Huge.  So, get a real answer...how do you rationalize your behavior knowing the consequences for others?  what is your real-world solution (you know, one that might actually happen)?  You can either answer that, or prove that there's no violent crime associated with the drug trade, including pot...and good luck with that.  



    a real world solution (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by of1000Kings on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 12:56:23 PM EST
    like turning a blind-eye to all the problems associated with the substance...

    like alcohol....

    is that real world?  I guess so...

    IE: real world solution means no where close to being perfect...

    make it legal to possess a personal amount (maybe 2-3 ounces or something)...
    make it legal to grow a personal amount in your own home...
    make it legal for legit businesses to grow a certain amount on specific land. with a license..

    make it illegal to sell more than a certain small amount (32 grams seems to be a nice number) w/o a license or maybe illegal outside of selling in a legal/licensed storefront/cafe...either one has possibilities...

    maintain similar laws to alcohol (legal fine if participated in while driving, or excessively participated in while in public)

    there you go...in that way I could buy my marijuana w/o having to worry about the drug trade, no culpability...as you say, those people dealing in large amounts illegally would be breaking the law, so they are irrelevant to the discussion of buying legally...

    people who would be against this:  people like Dick Cheney who are invested in privatized prisons...racists...controlling churches who believe they own the country...


    The street violence.... (5.00 / 2) (#57)
    by kdog on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 01:24:43 PM EST
    is a result of the prohibition, not the drugs.

    Have we learned nothing from alcohol prohibition?


    This is an interesting issue. (none / 0) (#58)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 01:43:04 PM EST
    Clearly if no one broke the law by buying illegal pot, there would be no street violence due to illegal pot.

    This is kind of like kiddie p*rn in that if no one bought illegal child p*rn, there would clearly be a huge reduction in victimizing kids to make child p*rn. So if you buy kiddie p*rn, you are ensuring that/responsible for getting kids victimized to make the p*rn.

    There is a difference, of course, in that if kiddie p*rn was legalized the victimization of the kids to make it would not stop, in contrast to legalizing pot which would probably stop the violence of the illegal pot trade.

    That difference, though, does not negate the fact that if you do buy illegal drugs, you are part, at least, of the cause of illegal drug violence.


    Sure... (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by kdog on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 02:31:51 PM EST
    and if you buy US Treasury bonds you are, at least in part, the cause of the torture at Abu Gharib and Guantanamo...if you wanna get technical:)

    No argument from me. (none / 0) (#64)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 03:07:23 PM EST
    Just trying to get agreement on the facts regarding buying illegal pot.

    Stretch it far enough.... (none / 0) (#65)
    by kdog on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 03:47:09 PM EST
    we've all got blood on our hands, one way or the other...unless you become a hermit and live in a cave with no human contact.

    Buying reefer is a lot easier on my conscience than buying clothes, or toys, or selling these damn Chinese imports for a living...I can tell ya that old buddy, fwiw.


    if the government says something is legal or (none / 0) (#66)
    by of1000Kings on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 04:27:20 PM EST
    not legal, then that's the bottom line...

    is that the way of saying that our great-grandparents really weren't bad people for endorsing slavery...hey, the government said it's okay...so it must be okay (and vice versa)


    I think you are replying (none / 0) (#68)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:08:17 PM EST
    to someone else's comment.

    I'm just questioning (none / 0) (#69)
    by of1000Kings on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 08:23:08 PM EST
    the idea that the law is always right, no matter what...

    I believe it has been wrong in the past, so why couldn't it be wrong in some instances now...

    but I believe we are discussing different things...some people seem to think that no matter how unjust a law is, it's still the law...others like myself disagree...


    You were responding to someone else's comment.

    of100Kings makes (none / 0) (#59)
    by OldCity on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 01:54:40 PM EST
    sense to a degree.  If everyone could grow it, and had good access to seeds, not so much of a problem.

    Distribution is still a sticky wicket, though.  As a former resident of the EU, I can tell you that even vaunted Amsterdam has it's distribution related violence.

    And, c'mon...it's not been decriminalised anywhere on a large scale, and it won't be.  

    there's not an easy parallel between pot and alcohol.  Pot is illegal just about everywhere, in quantity.  Alcohol is legal almost everywhere (except some Muslim countries, where I suggest you not attempt some logical argument justifying possession or consumption).  

    When you buy pot, you are knowingly committing a criminal act.  You chose to break a law that has been around for longer (I suspect) than you';ve been alive.  the same would be true of other drugs.  Your philosophic objection has no legal justification...you affirmatively chose to break a standing law.  You can't retroactively justify a criminal act merely because you don't think that there's a significant impact to your actions or because you just plain old don't want to be constrained.  Unlike with prohibition, you NEVER had the right to buy it, possess it or use it.    

    So, your demand is what creates the problem...without demand, no market.  No market, no violence over market share.  If the argument is that it doesn't  hurt you...true enough.  But it does hurt others.  Choosing to do it anyway, knowing that, provides you with a moral problem you'd rather not contmplate, nor take responsibility for, apparently.  But, you broke the law and the law isn't the problem.  It's the lawbreakers.  

    And, seriously, if some guy gets busted eight times...he's just a slow learner.



    You're wrong.... (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by kdog on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 02:29:40 PM EST
    Marijuana was not always prohibited in this country or the world...quite the contrary.  For the most part it is a 20th century phenomenon.

    And if demand is the problem, it is a problem that will never go away no matter how many good people you jail or fine...getting high is as old as humanity.  So we need to come up with another way to deal with the legitimate problems of drug abuse (not use, abuse), instead of the tired corrupted prohibition model you seem to think would work if only people would "respect the law".  Law that is not worthy of respect, imo.

    Bottom line, drug prohibition causes more problems than it solves...and I think that is obvious.


    "Respect the law" (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by CST on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 02:57:57 PM EST
    Is a pretty hollow argument when you live in a country where it used to be illegal for black people to own property, sit where they wanted, etc...  Without breaking the law we wouldn't have a country.

    Civil disobedience is an important part of changing the law.  And this is about the right to live your life as you choose.  Maybe not comparable to civil rights, but certainly comparable to tax on tea.  And yet those "criminals" are viewed as national heroes.

    And as for supporting/inciting "violence" - you do that most times you buy diamonds too.  To fix that you have to regulate supply.

    This weed has been legal for a much longer time than it was illegal - even in the lifespan of this country.


    That last sentence (none / 0) (#60)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 02:01:07 PM EST
    is the take-away lesson of the day!

    Madison in the '70s (5.00 / 2) (#45)
    by Ben Masel on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 09:34:07 AM EST
    We'd decriminalized possession with a ballot initiative. Our Police Chief and DA (now Governor Jim Doyle) ignored casual dealing, only arresting or prosecuting when it was causing enough secondary problems to generate multiple neighborhood complaints. These were rare, since there were so many people dealing small scale that there was too little profit margin for the formation of violent gangs.

    A shift toward more agressive enforcement in the '80s had the predictable effect of pushing much of the marijuana trade toward the coke guys, with an increase in turf wars and armed heists.  


    I had to! (none / 0) (#70)
    by roger on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 08:50:12 PM EST
    I live in Florida! I had to make a statement this time!  It's just sad that the only viable choices that I have when I vote are people who want to put me, you, Carl Sagan, and other dangerous people in jail.

    some areas are starting to become (none / 0) (#71)
    by of1000Kings on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 11:19:23 PM EST
    more lenient on personal use of marijuana...I know in Columbia, MO you can have up to something like 32 g and only get a fine (a proposition passed there mainly because such a large amount of good students were losing financial aid and scholarships for getting caught with a small amount of marijuana...ruining the promising futures of young adults over nothing)...
    but for all of you who say just respect the law and you'll have no worries you also have to remember that it is illegal to have gay sex in Missouri...so anyone who is gay in Missouri is a criminal by law...I guess that's just the way it goes, though, all you criminal gays...


    A person commits the crime of sexual misconduct in the first degree if he has deviate sexual intercourse with another person of the same sex

    *deviate sexual intercourse is basically any type of sexual behavior that creates arousal outside of maybe mouth-mouth kissing, but maybe also including that

    the proposition just passed in Massachusetts is a decent little step in the right direction...anything under an ounce possessed by an adult is fined no more than $100 without possibility of jail time....pretty nice considering here in Missouri you would get a $1000 fine just for having a joint...and face jail time...

    every person here needs to work on getting this type of proposition on the ballot in their state (I believe people have been trying in Missouri for a while, but I don't see it happening considering the Church-washed rural areas)...

    of course, even with propositions like this we'd still have all that blood on our hands (we could just as easily say the blood is on the hands of our government, but what the hey, you know)


    the penalty for having gay sex in Missouri (none / 0) (#72)
    by of1000Kings on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 11:23:52 PM EST
    is up to one year of incarceration...

    not sure if that is a per act type sentence or not...maybe someone can help me out...

    I know this is getting way off topic, but it just goes to show that there are some laws out there that really are not worthy of respect...

    whether or not marijuana laws are in this category is pretty subjective I guess...but apparently so is the legality of having any type of gay sexual pleasure in Missouri...

    hopefully these posts aren't too graphic...I'm assuming we're all adults, could be wrong though


    Very sad indeed.... (none / 0) (#78)
    by kdog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 12:29:45 PM EST
    when it really gets me down I think of the drug laws in much of the far east..it definitely could be worse.  A grand out of pocket and 6 months probabtion beats a caining...so we've got that going for us brother:)

    Eric Holder (none / 0) (#67)
    by Daniel on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:42:59 PM EST
    After initially being happy for the choice, I then learned 1) that ERic Holder still hues to draconian marijuana laws and 2) he favored zero dissent following 9/11. This is deeply troubling, not to mention his role in the pardoning of that famous "fugitive financier" Mark Rich, a friend of Bill's. Thanks for keeping on this, Jeralyn. I'm troubled by a few of the new cabinet mentions, this being amongst them.

    You guys (none / 0) (#74)
    by OldCity on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 10:45:07 AM EST
    are using false equivalencies.  

    Worse, you're still not addressing the whole of the issue.  I've already conceded that I think the stuff should be legal.

    However...people use pot, most of them, because they want to.  It makes them feel good.  there's a small subset of people who use it for medical purposes, but the largest use is recreational.

    Now, in order to find out that it made you feel good, you had to break the law affirmatively.  There's zero fscking equivalency to slavery there, you a$$hole.  Once you found out it made you feel good, you wanted to do it without encumberances or worry.  But, you never would have held that opinion had you not broken the law in the first place, becuase you wouldn't have known its effects.

    Now, there's really no moral high ground, here.  Anyone who wants it legalized wants it legalized, as I do, so people can use it for pleasure without fearing arrest.  That's it.  they want their fun legalized.  It ain't noble.  

    Last night, ten blocks from me some kids got arrested with 12 lbs, &12,000 and guns.  What do you think the guns were for?  Home defense?

    Defense of their property.... (none / 0) (#75)
    by kdog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 11:00:05 AM EST
    I assume.  When a electronics distributor gets robbed, they can call the police.  When your inventory of reefer gets robbed, you have no one to call, hence its a good idea to arm yourself and protect your property...or you're a sitting duck for thieves.

    Not saying right or wrong, just saying.  I get your point, if we legalize all possesion but still prohibit sale the violence associated with the drug trade remains.  I agree, so I say legalize possesion and sale...using the alcohol model.  When Phillip Morris is distributing reefer instead of organized crime, the violence will go away.


    Maybe so kdog, (none / 0) (#76)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 11:43:39 AM EST
    This was in my area's weekly rag this AM:
    On May 22, 1995, Judie and Jim Farris of Agoura Hills lost their 16-year-old son to a murderer's knife. Jimmy Farris was killed in a backyard brawl during a teenage marijuana deal that had gone bad.

    Sad.... (none / 0) (#77)
    by kdog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 12:26:39 PM EST
    how little people will kill each other over.

    And I'm sure in another weekly there is a tale of a stabbing over the last can of Natural Light.

    We'll never be rid of violence, we can only hope to reduce it.  I think the end of prohibition would help, at least a little.  And we'd be more free, which is always good in my book.


    elsewhere, I'm just pointing out there is some here.