TRAVIS WALTERS News Editor
Our lord and savior Michael Phelps was caught smoking pot. What are we to do? Normally in the United States when one is caught using an illegal drug like marijuana, they’re invalidated for the rest of their lives. The user is inextricably barred from having an original idea or valid opinion. Everything they do or say is judged under the careful scope of “but you used pot.” I’ve never used marijuana, or any drug for that matter, but I don’t care if others do. I don’t see why it’s illegal. It’s never been proven to cause any harmful side effects in humans. Considering that, and in cases of people dealing with chronic pain it’ll actually help you, I think we should consider decriminalizing it.
Alas, it’s “bad” because it’s a “drug” and we have a Drug Enforcement Agency and a whole bureaucracy set up to deal with it as a drug. If marijuana wasn’t a drug, what would the people at the DEA in charge of getting rid of it do? They’d need a new purpose. They’d be lost in the world of deprecated bureaucrats. They’d wander from the heroin office, to the ecstasy office, but they’d never find a place that made them feel at home. I doubt finding employment for these people is the sole cause for the drug remaining illegal, however.
The United States imprisons more people per capita than any other nation on Earth; that includes China, which recently sentenced several people to death over poisoned milk. I recently got into an argument over this. The person believed China imprisons fewer people because they kill more people. She thinks the death penalty works, whereas I believe it does not. She said they spend less money on keeping people in prison than we do. Her logic is that taxpayers shouldn’t have to support these people while others are starving. I can see that as a valid point.
However, my point is that the death penalty has been around since, forever, and it hasn’t worked. People still do bad things despite the fact that a jury of their peers may decide to put them to death. The simple truth is that someone who does something that would result in such a trial isn’t really in their right mind, and probably won’t be weighing the pros and cons of execution.
I have another way to save money. Don’t arrest people and sentence them to a mandatory term of six years or more over pot. I think that would free up a fair bit of space, and may have the consequence of actually being fair.
At least one jury in the country realizes that. A jury in Illinois recently found a man innocent from charges of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. A state drug task force found about 25 lbs. of marijuana in his home, and another 50 pounds of growing plants. The man is a 59-year-old Vietnam veteran who walks with a cane, has bad knees and feet and said he used the marijuana to deal with body pain and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The police couldn’t prove he sold the drug and the jury found him not guilty. Observers noted that the jury may have used the often unmentioned right of “jury nullification,” which allows a jury to find the accused not guilty even if the evidence points that way, because the jury doesn’t agree with the law.
Phelps wasn’t the only high profile person mentioned in a marijuana related incident recently. President Obama’s half-brother in Kenya was arrested on possession charges. Though we’d have never heard about it if not for his famous brother, it made national news in the United States. He was later released and charges dropped, however. I wonder if Phelps will be similarly lucky. I suspect so. After all, he plays sports in the United States and he’s good. That essentially makes him a deity to us. Plus he apologized—I mean, how can we prosecute a guy who said he was sorry? That’d just be mean.