Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Make Him Do It": Some In Congress "Up" For Bipartisan Pressure For Drug Reform

I offer this as a coda to yesterday's sentiments, via OpenLeft:
by: David Sirota
Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 07:00
Speaking of drug policy reform, the Hill newspaper has this dispatch about the gradually growing pressure from Congress on the White House to get serious about drug policy reform:
A (small, but apparently) growing chorus of lawmakers is openly calling for the legalization of marijuana as a measure to stop the escalating violence along U.S.-Mexico border. The legislators who have (publicly) endorsed legalization are Reps. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), and Ron Paul (R-Texas)...

"There are a lot of people who understand that [the current war on drugs has been a failure], but they are afraid to politically say so," Rohrabacher said. "If it was a vote - a blind vote where nobody knew who was voting - you would have overwhelming support for legalizing marijuana out there, but they will never vote for it because they are afraid of taking on a controversial issue."
Between rising border violence and budget-busting prisons overcrowded with non-violent drug offenders, events (seem to be) creating circumstances to change the debate on marijuana policy, even if President Obama recently laughed off a question about marijuana legalization. Clearly, the persistent (and silly) "tough on crime" frame that HBO's David Simon ("The Wire") outlined continues (to) confine Democrats - but if there's enough bipartisan pressure from Congress and in state legislatures, the White House could be made to take steps it doesn't yet feel comfortable taking.
There are times when holding one's breath is appropriate ("...'ere!"), but this probably isn't one of them. The Prison/Industrial complex has tentacles everywhere, and they are powerful. Last year, the Prison Guards' union in California prevented the State Lege from scrapping the notorious "3-strikes" laws, for example. And with the metastasis of 'private' prisons across the country, there begins to be a Defense-Department-like dispersal of power throughout several/many state Congressional districts with countervailing economic interests.

That said, it can't happen a moment too soon (and may I say, I DETEST cops?):
GVSU Shooting Victim Charged With Felony
(April 21, 2009 9:30 AM, by Ed Brayton)

Derek Copp, the GVSU student who was accidentally shot in the chest by an Ottawa County sheriff's deputy, will be arraigned Wednesday on charges of selling a few marijuana joints to an undercover police officer. The Grand Rapids Press reports:
Information about the buys, including one from Copp on the day of the raid, is contained in an arrest warrant affidavit obtained today by The Press.

The affidavit shows an undercover officer assigned to the West Michigan Enforcement Team bought 3.3 grams of marijuana for $60 from Copp on March 11, the day of the shooting.
So the sheriff's department sent five armed officers to arrest a college student with no hint of violent tendencies. And even after a bullet ripped through his liver, broke a rib, punctured his lung and put him in the ICU, they still don't think he's suffered enough and want to make sure he faces up to four years in prison on a felony count of drug trafficking. For selling a few joints.

By the way, the officer who showed clear negligence in shooting him?
He only faces a misdemeanor. And given how reluctant juries are to convict any police officer of any crime, he likely will receive little or no punishment at all. I think we have our priorities just a bit screwed up.
No SHIT! I really detest cops.

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