Thursday, August 12, 2010


Political Mayhem Thursday: Legalizing Pot

There are both liberals and conservatives who favor legalizing pot-- and plenty of each who oppose it.

Should marijuana be legalized in the US?

Yes, yes and yes.

But wait! You're saying. Lane, you're a prosecutor! How can you want those dirty lawbreaking pot-smokers, whom you have prosecuted and continue to prosecute, to get away with their nefarious crime!

Pot, as I see it, is malum prohibidum... bad because we say it is. There are plenty of bad things that are malum in se that intoxicated people do... but most of them are done while intoxicated on a substance that is legally and commercially available: alcohol. Prosecution for crimes like DWI, public intoxication, intox manslaughter, etc., can continue even if the underlying intoxicant is legal for purchase and personal use.

It's time to legalize, regulate, and tax the production of these types of substances for medical and recreational purposes, just like we did with alcohol following Prohibition. That has proven to be a successful model.
Knowing what we know about it now (compared to when it was prohibited in 1937), and knowing the consequences of it being a black market product, a better question might be "what's the continuing rationale for keeping it illegal?"

Someone is always going to make money off of pot sales. The American people just have to decide whether they want that money to go to legitimate businesses or murderous Mexican drug cartels.
To be honest, the drug cartels only operate as an illegal enterprise because they have to. We occasionally get fliers from them posted on our cars down here talking about how "sorry" they are for the violence, how they only want to sell us drugs, and that if we just stay inside this weekend, they will "take out" some people and will get back to selling people drugs.

It just goes to show that no one wants to operate an illegal business if there is a legal alternative. Even a highly-regulated and taxed business is preferable to an illegal one.
I'm sure with your broken ankle a little pot might do you some good.

I've never tried it and won't unless I develop some cancer or other disease where it would be beneficial to my ability to eat and function.
Relative percentage of violent cases involving the use of drugs:

1) After drinking a 5th of whiskey (or the equivent)--about 70%;

2) After smoking meth--about 15%;

3) After taking a bond rip--have never seen it happen.

There is no rationale for legalizing alcohol and prohibiting marijuana. The legal drug does far more harm to society than the illegal drug. That is unless you consider the harm imposed by illegal trafficking of drugs, which was the same problem with 1920's prohibition era. I can't remember, how did they deal with alcohol prohibition violence?

I will continue to abstain from both regardless goverment regulation, but I must recognize that the government is not justified in its different treatment of each.
I meant "bong rip" not "bond rip."
It was funnier when it was "bond rip." I had images of stockbrokers smoking bonds out of crack pipes. Brought a chuckle to my lips.
There is a good argument against legalizing pot that relates to the comparison between pot and alcohol consumption. It goes like this: a person who smokes pot is high and therefore impaired after the first use. A person who drinks a beer or two (but not a fifth of whiskey) is not impaired. I'd prefer to drive around Lubbock after all other drivers have had two beers than to drive around Lubbock after all other drivers have smoked a joint.
Legalize, tax and regulate - make money instead of throwing it in the crapper trying to prevent the sale and use. That might even keep Mexico from collapsing entirely.

Prohibition of fun substances and activities has rarely worked, unless said use harms bystanders, which pot doesn't.

I'd also add that I have used almost all the illegal and legal drugs, got bored with them, and went straight without any treatment, meetings, religion, etc. Reality sometimes bites, but it can be enjoyed!


Parent of former student, enjoy the blog regularly, disagree with the religious mythology, but will fight for your right to harbour said delusions. Agree with the sentencing and rock vs. powder decision - way to go!!! and we have met - several times.
Well put, AZ Defender
Anon 3:27 -- as easy as it would make my job if we could prove DWI simply by showing that someone had, at some indeterminate point earlier in the day, used drugs... the standard for intoxication remains the same whether the person has consumed one beer, two beers, one shot, a whole handle of Jack Daniels, a joint, one of AZPD's "bond rips," the decidedly more intoxicating "bong rip," or enough pot to rival Cheech and Chong.

Prosecutors have to prove loss of the use of the normal mental and physical faculties, and there is a scale of intoxication with any substance, whether pot, alcohol, prescription meds, or LSD. You're (potentially) as safe driving around people that have smoked a joint as you are around people that have drunk 1-2 beers, maybe more so, since alcohol is a stronger CNSD than THC.
Although I'm a prosecutor I'm definitely in favor of legalization of pot. However a caveats: 1) Pot is much more powerful than it was even 10 years ago. There is quite a bit more THC in it now due to the fact that less is more in the drug trade. That is one of the more logical arguments against leaglization of pot in its current form.
It would have to have a regulated limit on the THC level before being allowed, much like alcohol content.

Unlike RRL, I think smoking sucks because it could affect me negatively through second-hand smoke. I don't even like walking behind someone who's smoking or walking through the entrance of a building surrounded by smokers. Thus, I definitely wouldn't want my daughter to have to walk through second-hand pot smoke. therefore, like drinking in public, I think ALL smoking should be banned if not done in the comfort of your own home or at bar regulated for such activity.

Next, take a few billion that we use combating this stuff and give it to a few companies and universities to come up with a non-invasive and highly accurate device (for court approval) that can detect THC levels in drivers. Set a legal limit and make it a mandatory test in all states (Withhold fed highway funds to make states comply) when someone is pulled over for ANY traffic violation. Make the fine and punishment reasonable (unlike current DWI laws) and you have effectively limited the effect of stoned drivers.

Lastly, tax the hell out of it to discourage use while providing income for the states. I have no problem with pot heads paying for health services and drug treatment centers for criminals this way, even with my conservative ideals.

You in effect create an exportable cash crop for our economy, put a great number of dealers out of business, and can focus more money on combating hard core drug abuse.
Well put, AZ Defender
Yes, legalize.

And the "bond rip" had more to do with GM and the American taxpayer.
Set a legal limit and make it a mandatory test in all states (Withhold fed highway funds to make states comply) when someone is pulled over for ANY traffic violation.

So that whole "reasonable suspicion" thing just doesn't apply to pot smoking? All drivers, all infractions, no exceptions? Sounds constitutional.

THC stays in the body long after its effects on the mind have passed, so a THC breath/blood test would not be effective or practical in this situation.

"Unlike RRL, I think smoking sucks..."

Keith Richards smokes. A lot. Keith Richards does not suck, or do anything that sucks. So, point disproven.

"...because it could affect me negatively through second-hand smoke."

Those studies are bogus. Most scientific evidence now confirms that second hand smoke was a myth made up by housewives with too much time on their hand who were sick of only complaining about Twisted Sister records. Studies do however prove that smoking is totally boss.

"I don't even like walking behind someone who's smoking..."

Then walk faster than them.

"...or walking through the entrance of a building surrounded by smokers."

I don't like walking near pretentious a-holes that think they're better than me because my redneck butt smokes, but we all have to suffer through things in life.

"Thus, I definitely wouldn't want my daughter to have to walk through second-hand pot smoke."

Baby gift for little AMN from now until her 18th birthday, a carton of smokes from Uncle Bobby. I figure by the time she turns legal she will be so intrigued it will only be a matter of time before she joins the ranks of totally boss smoking kids.

"therefore, like drinking in public, I think ALL smoking should be banned if not done in the comfort of your own home or at bar regulated for such activity."


I personally plan on smoking in public tonight, especially near entrances to buildings, in support of freedom.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em.
Anon 3:27:

I recognize that marijuana can adversely affect a person's ability to drive. But again: it is something it has in common with alcohol, not a unique danger that calls for disparate treatment.

Your concern about THC-impaired drivers certainly is valid. That's why legalization of pot must be accompanied by an updated regulation of DUI THC. I think Dallas ADA has a good proposal for DUI THC, but I would actually be more strict. I would propose a strict liability law against DUI THC--anybody driving with THC in his/her system (not carboxy-THC, which is the non-psychoactive metabolite) should be guilty of DUI regardless of actual THC % in blood.

The DUI THC problem lies in initial detection, where DUI ETOH normally is pretty obvious by smell, speech, and appearance. Beyond some Cheetos residue around a suspect's mouth and fingers, it will be difficult to detect THC impairment. I don't know the feasibility of what Dallas ADA suggests for checking on drivers as it causes a lot of reasonable suspicion/4th Amendment problems.

Many officers have specialized training to become DREs--drug recognition experts. They have training that allows them to detect impairment from drugs other than alcohol. I feel fairly confident that an expansion of this training will go a long way.

Scott Davis:

I was trying to think of a clever way to play off the "bond rip" goof. Well played, sir. Full marks.
Also, I would not give a lesser punishment for DUI THC, as impairment poses the same danger to society no matter what drug impairs the person.

Unless someone can convince me otherwise.
I agree with AZ Public Defender about Dallas ADA's suggestion that people be tested at "ANY traffic violation."
No legal scholar am I, but I can't see how that would possibly stand. (Although, the protections granted all of us are slowly but surely eroding, so...)

And RRL's response is the #2 reason why i like to swim in his pool so much-- while he smokes incessantly.
(#1, of course, is the fact that he has a dolphin in his pool.)
It's also the reason why I love America. At least, the America that lets people make their own decisions.
Hey I'm usually a "the less government in my business, the better" kind of guy, but for some reason smoking just doesn't apply. Probably because of all those rednecks (including my parents) who shared their vice with regardless of whether I wanted to or not.

As for the practicality of my suggestion that a device be created that can test the THC levels: I don't think that just because Anon says it is impractical it must be so. I'll leave it to the academics and nerds to come up with an effective test/device and trust that someone out there might have a good idea in that regard. The point is that in order to ensure safety, I would want it as a condition before legalization.

As for the 4th amendment issues, I realize there are some. however, since an officer can tag every car that passes by him with a lazer to determine speeding (without any probable cause on the part of the officer) I figure we can test every driver too. Remember that driving on the roads MY taxes help pay for is a privilege and not a right. The government can, and has in the past, imposed reasonable conditions in regards to the privilege. As long as the test isn't intrusive/time consuming, is applied uniformily, and has a legitimate purpose I think it'll be ok. I, however, think that there are no privacy rights or standing in a moving car, but that's an argument for another time. It's just the pretentious a-hole in me I guess.
and like Uncle Bobby, I figure they can just do the opposite and not drive!

The difference in the case of DWI and the speeding ticket is that DWI requires the PC because the person is arrested immediately. (Yes I know you can be arrested for speeding too, but in that instance your driving has to be reckless and requires the officer's PC to state as such (in addition to speed).
Nevertheless, we can still make the laws conform to the 4th issues to avoid such problems.

And Uncle Bobby, I appreciate Ali's gift since I'll be able to sell it to any number of people down at the courthouse for a profit. And, given the rate of inflation/taxes on cigs, I should have enough money to pay for Ali's college by her 18th!
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?