Tuesday, December 9, 2008

22 Years for Selling Weed!!!!

Now I’m as patriotic as the next fellow, but there are times when I am embarrassed by the American criminal justice system. The reason for my embarrassment can be found in an article I just read about a couple of Modesto, CA men who were recently sentenced for a federal marijuana-related conviction. One received a sentence of 21 years, 10 months and the other 20 years in a federal prison. Keep in mind that the average sentences in federal court for the crimes of murder, sexual abuse, and kidnapping are around 7 years.

Now I’m not claiming that these guys were in the right, or even that they were abiding by California state law. It would appear that they were not. It would appear that they were taking advantage of the system in order to make a lot of money. In fact, one of them even made a rap video practically daring the DEA to come after him. And of course the DEA did go after him. It’s one thing to keep a low profile and quietly go about your business. But once you become a public figure, you can rest assured that the DEA will do whatever it takes to make an example of you. Just ask Tommy Chong.

OK, so maybe these guys were not the altruistic caregivers they claimed to be. Maybe they were. Who really knows? That’s not the point. The point is that all they were doing was growing and selling marijuana. They were not accused nor convicted of any violent crime. And as far as I can tell, they had no prior criminal history. They were the victims of a “mandatory minimum sentence.” In case you haven’t heard that phrase before, it means that if you are convicted the judge has no flexibility in the sentence he passes. In this case, 20 years was the mandatory minimum sentence.

It just so happens that mandatory minimum sentences have become quite popular in recent years. Coincidentally their popularity, much like the so-called “three strikes” laws, has risen along with the increase in private prisons. And why not? If you’ve got a growing for-profit prison industry, you need to have prisoners. It would be pointless to be spending all those billions of dollars each year building new prisons if there weren’t any people to lock up in them. And our government is always willing to do what it can to help out private industry. Especially when that industry has lobbyists and donates millions of dollars to political candidates. It’s just one hand washing the other. That’s the American way.

But that’s neither here nor there. The point is that two people will be spending the next 20 years behind bars for selling marijuana!!!! In what universe is that not cruel and unusual punishment? Even if they were taking advantage of the system and using it for their own profit, the sentence in no way fits the crime. I know this excuse may be overused, but in this case I have to say that society’s to blame. If marijuana were legal, these guys would just be a couple of unknown wannabe rappers. Our society created a situation in which these two could get rich without putting in too much effort. Then when they took advantage of that situation, that very same society punished them. Severely.

The main problem with these two was that they weren’t quite smart enough to figure out the system. If they wanted some quick and easy money, they should have just gone out and robbed or killed somebody. That way, even if they got caught at least they wouldn’t have ended up spending the next 20 years behind bars. So let that be a lesson to anybody who thinks they can make easy some money selling weed. It’s just not worth the risk. Go out and get yourself a gun. All you have to do is point it at people and demand they give you their money. You’ll be happy you didn’t try to sell weed. And so will society.

No comments: