Sunday, July 25, 2010

Arrest For Marijuana Possession: News?

A teenager in Richardson is arrested for marijuana possession. I'm imagining the tweet already:
"Having breakfast with the kiddo at Richardson city jail. Love this venue. All hail the Ganja Deluxe."

Seriously, marijuana possession is only a Class B misdemeanor (an offense nonetheless and something to avoid), but it's an offense that an enlightened society rightly wouldn't have on the books at all. It should be treated like having a six pack of beer in your possession. The country tried outlawing that once. In case you don't remember, it didn't go so well. Neither is the country's current policy of outlawing the possession of marijuana. Reader response to The Dallas Morning News' story is overwhelmingly dismissive of the charge and of the News for even running the story. They say it's "no big deal." Are they right? Is it news?

The teenager charged is the son of a member of the city council, which hires the city manager, who hires the police chief, who oversees the police department that sets the priorities for enforcing the laws. So, there's some irony in the story, which is an angle that makes it at least a small news story. Besides, if you think our current drug laws are counter-productive, the more stories like this, the better. Here's a nineteen year old who faces jail time and a criminal record for "no big deal". If the offense isn't news, the serious consequences should be. Shine a light on enough stories like this one and just maybe society will eventually see fit to try another way to deal with drug and alcohol use.

Still, I can't help thinking that the public doesn't have the full story yet. Reportedly, the officer detected a suspicious odor in a car after a traffic stop. If (and it's only an "if") the driver was under the influence (it doesn't matter whether from alcohol or marijuana), my sympathy disappears entirely. Throw the book at him, not for possession, but for driving under the influence. That's a crime I can fully get behind prosecution of.

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