Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On The Other Hand...

I wrote a rather optimistic piece a short time ago (Thank You, Mary Beth Buchanan) about how the tide was changing and things were starting to happen on the re-legalization front. If you’ve been reading my stuff for a while, you probably know that I am nothing if not pessimistic, at least when it comes to prohibition. So I thought I’d mention some recent developments that are less than positive. Just so you don’t think I’m starting to view things through rose-colored (or is that weed-colored?) glasses. Or going soft (that’s what she said).

One major blow to the movement came just a couple of weeks ago when the governor of New Hampshire vetoed the most restrictive medical marijuana bill ever drafted. And by restrictive I mean, for example, it applied to only to terminal patients and did not allow patients to grow their own medicine. The bill ended up being so limited because of objections by the governor to earlier drafts. In spite of changes that addressed all of the governor’s concerns, he still vetoed the bill. And it’s not a sure thing that the state Senate and House will be able to override the veto. Sad.

That same week an Illinois Congressman announced a bill that would specifically target the new devil’s weed, so-called “kush,” with stiffer penalties compared to just plain old regular marijuana. Helpfully, this Congressman explained how hydroponic growing techniques and controlled environments make this weed so dangerously potent. You learn something new every day. These proposed new penalties would put someone convicted of selling this killer weed in prison for up to 25 years. Yes, you heard me right, 25 years for selling good pot.

And let’s not forget some of the drug war’s latest martyrs. There’s Charlie Lynch who was recently sentenced for his convictions related to operating a legitimate medical dispensary in California. Clearly the federal judge was reluctant to impose the mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. He delayed the sentencing and even wrote to the Attorney General to question whether the newly-announced hands-off policy applied in Mr. Lynch’s case. It did not. But the judge won out, sort of, by only sentencing Mr. Lynch to one year and one day in federal prison. So I guess there’s something positive in this otherwise sad, and unnecessary story.

Unfortunately, Eddie Lepp was not so lucky. He recently did receive the mandatory minimum 10-year sentence. This is a 56-year-old man in ill health who did nothing but grow and distribute medicine. The judge did allow for Mr. Lepp to receive another hearing if the laws ever change. That’s mighty white of him.

I guess my point is that, although we might (just might) have turned a corner, there’s still a long way to go. And if often seems that for every step we take forward, we take two back. Not that that’s anything new. Pretty much the same thing that’s been going on for the past 40 years. Same shit, different day.

There, now I feel better. Too much optimism makes me feel unsettled. Off balance. So don’t worry, I won’t go getting all positive again anytime soon. Back to business as usual.

No comments: