Thursday, June 16, 2005
The More They Do This Shit, the More Stoned We Have to Be to Make It Through The Day

It's been a strange period in American drug laws -- the Supreme Court has ruled that federal drug laws trump state drug laws, which calls into serious doubt the medical marijuana laws of several states -- which is bad -- but also affirms the precedence of all federal laws, which is good for us on some issues and possibly ultimately good for us regarding drug laws as well. Medical marijuana makes a lot of sense, and keeping it illegal makes no sense at all -- I still believe that eventually the prohibition on pot will fall, and if we can accomplish it across the country in one fell swoop, that would be great.

On the other hand, we have one bill coming up that carries a particularly feculant stink with it. US Rep. James Sensenbrenner (Fascist-WI) has proposed a nasty little bill known as H.R. 1528 into the legislative process. Behold the dumbassery:

H.R. 1528, Defending America's Most Vulnerable: Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act of 2005, is one of the worst drug war bills that Congress has ever considered.

Among other things, HR 1528:

--Virtually eliminates the ability of federal judges to give sentences below the minimum sentence recommended by federal sentencing guidelines, essentially creating a mandatory minimum sentence for every federal offense (including both drug and non-drug offenses).

--Expands the federal "three strikes and you're out" law to include new offenses, including mandating life imprisonment (with no possibility of parole) for anyone convicted a third time under the RAVE Act.

--Mandates a 10-year minimum sentence for anyone 21 or older that gives marijuana or others drugs to someone under 18 (i.e. a 21 year old college students gives a joint to his 17-year old brother). A second offense would be life in prison.

--Expands what is considered to be a "drug-free" school zone to include almost any place in an urban area, and increases penalties for selling or distributing drugs in that area. (The result will be enhanced penalties for people in inner cities, while people in rural and suburban areas get less time for the same offense).

--Mandates a 5-year minimum sentence for any person that commits a drug trafficking offense near the presence of a person under 18 or in a place where such person resides for any period of time. The sentence is 10 years if they are parent. (I.e. a mother that sells her neighbor a joint will get a 10-year minimum sentence, even if her kids were at school at the time).

--Creates a new offense for persons who witness or learn about certain drug offenses that fail to report the drug offender to the police within 24 hours or fail to provide full assistance to the police in tracking and prosecuting the offender. Offenses that would get someone a 2-year minimum sentence, including failing to report a neighbor that is storing or selling drugs when that neighbor has kids, failing to report anyone that gives a joint to someone under the age of 21, and failing to report a college student that is selling marijuana on a college campus.

--Mandates a 5-year minimum sentence for any person that offers, solicits, encourages, or induces a person enrolled in drug treatment, or previously enrolled in drug treatment, to purchase, possess or receive drugs.

--Makes it a federal crime to provide "drug paraphernalia" to anyone. While the goal is to make it a crime - punishable by up to three years in prison - to give someone a bong as a birthday present, it would also make it a federal crime to provide someone with sterile syringes (except where it is explicitly authorized by local or state law). If enacted, it would essentially criminalize many needle exchange programs.


To summarize the most evil parts of this bill: if you even know about someone else using drugs -- if you see your best friend take a drag off a joint at a party, for example -- and don't rat him or her out within 24 hours, you risk being sent to prison yourself for a minimum of two years. Or if you happen to have that same joint passed to you at that same party, decline to take a hit, and hand it to the stranger standing next to you -- and if that stranger, unbeknownst to you, was in a drug rehab program ever in their lives -- you've just committed a crime that carries a minimum sentence of five years. If your hippie parents smoke a J after you're in bed for the night, they're looking at doing five years for their crime.

I'm increasingly convinced the Republican party just wants to find a way to slap every single one of us in prison. Seriously. Because if this law were passed and enforced, at least 75% of Americans -- including those of us who don't even use the stuff -- would be in the pokey. Is this getting stupid enough for you yet, "moderate" Republicans?
9:22 PM ::
Amy :: permalink