Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Another War Crime in the War on Drugs

Today a friend of mine was sentenced to 4 years and 3 months in prison for marijuana possession. Three years of the sentence was suspended, provided he "stays out of trouble," and with good behavior and all he will probably be out in less than a year. But what does our society gain from locking this man up for even a day? He is a good guy, harmless and kind, with a good job welding steel on bridges. The economic loss alone will probably come to a hundred thousand dollars, between his lost wages and the cost of keeping him in jail. The loss of his company hurts everyone who knows him. All because he used a drug that is less bad for you than whiskey.

This is cruel and stupid, and I am very angry.

It is also random. Everybody knows that rich kids brought up on these charges get their wrists slapped, as do lots of other people. My friend's lawyer told him his whole sentence would probably be "stayed," that is, he would go directly to a sort of probation and the sentence would be cancelled after a few years without an arrest. What happened? Probably just a judge in a bad mood, using his discretion to arbitrarily ruin a man's life.

When will Americans come to their senses and realize that the whole "war on drugs" is a beating we are inflicting on ourselves? Every day we send hundreds more people like my friend to jail for hurting no one. We have turned whole neighborhoods over to drug-dealing gangs, and criminalized whole societies in Colombia and Mexico. Why? So we can feel pure and pretend to be protecting people from an evil that we can't control? To hell with that. It's past time to heal this self-inflicted wound. In the name of sanity, justice, freedom, and my friend Joe, I call for an end to this persecution.

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