Sunday, November 11, 2007

Vermont's Pot Paradox

Here's a problem to test our principles -- or to force us to choose which one is more critical.

In nearby Vermont, a 61-year old woman -- a defense lawyer, no less -- called the Vermont Fish and Game service to help remove a dead deer from her yard (some details are here.) Upon looking around her yard, they discovered numerous marijuana plants (at this time of year, probably nice and ripe!) as well as some dry ganja. Such actions -- growing and possession of relatively large amounts -- qualify as serious felonies, with up to 30 years in prison.

The local prosecutor declined to charge the woman with felonies, opting instead for misdemeanor charges and then even dropping those in favor of a court-supervised "diversion" program -- kind of like what teenage kids might get for possession of alchohol.

It is relevant that this local prosecutor, Robert Sand, has in the past spoken out against our country's drug laws, saying they are not working and arguing for decriminalization of drugs like marijuana. Hallelujah!

Ah, but...The law is the law, is it not? For a prosecutor, elected to enforce the laws of the State, to turn his head on what the State currently considers a serious that right? And did the prosecutor go easy because it was a 61 year-old woman, and a peer, in that she was a lawyer?

If Mr. Sand thinks that marijuana should be legal, I agree 100% with him. But I am not sure that given his job, he can do what he did. If he cannot enforce laws that he thinks are bad, then I guess he needs to resign.

Or is a little civil disobedience on the part of public prosecutors OK?

Thoughts anyone?


Christopher Herbert said...

Civil disobedience at its finest.

Stupid laws don't deserve to be enforced. In fact, this country was founded on a little rebellion. It's the only way things improve! Daring souls that are willing to go outside the boundaries a little to stand up for what is right.

Drug laws in this country are completely ridiculous. As long as people don't harm others, they shouldn't be bothered. In addition to repeal of drug laws, I think we should abolish "sin" taxes on things like cigarettes and alcohol.

How do we pay for it? Why not start taxing churches? Makes no sense that we treat some businesses differently than others...


Jackie said...

Looks more like judicial negligence than civil disobedience... If the suspect were an unemployed 20-something African American male, would the penalty be different? Isn't this what justice is all about?