Monday, March 14, 2005

Decrim in action

This was bound to happen. In Colombia Missouri, the voters, by a 61 percent margin, passed an ordinance that turned small possession of marijuana into a misdemeanor offense prosecuted at the municipal rather than state level. The police are pissed off. They don't like the ordinance and are trying to get it repealed. Meanwhile they're passing out tickets like Easter candy. They claim not to be targeting people but rather adding the ticket to routine traffic stops. What do you want to bet those have increased?

The cops don't like it because the system is doing what it's supposed to. Keeping small offenders out of the court system.
Columbia police have ticketed more people per month for misdemeanor possession of marijuana since voters approved Proposition 2 in November, but most are not being prosecuted. First-time offenders are given a second chance as part of the municipal court’s marijuana deferral program.
It's a double-edged sword though. Deferral programs usually require a treatment option, where the offenders go into some kind of short term rehab program instead to a jail cell. Most are more than willing to "confess" their problem to avoid the criminal record. The government then turns around and uses the statistics created by all these court orders to "prove" marijuana abuse is a problem and thus justify continuing to spend billions of tax dollars every year on the futile war against the plant.

The only problem with marijuana is that the law makes criminals of otherwise law-abiding people who use herbs to enhance their health - be it of mind, body or spirit. Decrim is a start but really a fix. The only practical solution to this problem is full legalization.


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