On December 6, 2012, Initiative 502 went into effect – enacting the legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana in Washington State. The law decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana (up to an ounce) for adults age 21 or older. It has been projected that since 1986 there were at least 240,000 arrests for the possession of marijuana by adults in Washington, which cost taxpayers more than $300 million. Washington’s Office of Financial Management has estimated that legalization could bring in about half a billion dollars each year to public funds, which does not include money saved from a decrease in arresting, prosecuting, and jailing marijuana users.
I-502 provides that this money be distributed to areas such as health care, youth drug prevention, public health education about marijuana, as well as the general fund of the state and local budgets.
But it should be noted that while adults may possess marijuana, it is not yet legal to purchase it. By December of this year, the State Liquor Control Board will decide on a system in which the production, processing, and sale of marijuana may occur – and retail stores (similar to liquor stores) will be opened. There will be a 25% tax on the drug.
That said, according to the US Controlled Substances Act, it is still illegal to grow, sell, or possess any amount of marijuana under federal law. State attorney Jenny A. Durkan has said that it is still the duty of the Department of Justice to enforce this act.
In hopes of bridging this gap, Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado has introduced an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act in an attempt to exempt state marijuana laws. Until any type of change like this occurs, it is still possible to be charged with a crime for possessing marijuana.
At this point it is better to be safe than sorry.
Most of us have been approached or pulled over by a law enforcement officer at some point in our lives. It can be an intimidating experience, but by knowing your rights you can avoid making detrimental decisions based on misinformation or fear.
If you are pulled over by an officer, you have the right not to answer any questions. You must show your driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration if asked to do so, and you must exit the car if asked to do so. But unless the officer has probable cause to search your car, the officer may not conduct a search without your consent. You can simply say “I do not give my consent.” If you are treated badly by the officer, write down the officer’s badge number and name (which you have a right to ask for.) Also, if you have any suspicion that the person who pulled you over is not actually an officer, lock your doors and call 911 to get verification.
To find out more, including your rights regarding arrests, searches and warrants, and traveling through airports, go to: http://www.aclu.org/files/kyr/kyr_english.pdf
Child Abuse, highlighted in the news from Penn State, is always a tragic story of victims. I understand the rush to judgment, but it is important to remember that ignorance and shame are huge factors. The reality is that most perpetrators were themselves victims. The challenge for us all is to identify and treat the victims before they in turn victimize.
With Amanda Knox back in Seattle and free and Casey Anthony free and in hiding, it seems an opportune moment to look at the inequities and injustices in criminal justice.
No one knows, with certainty, the level of culpability each individual had in the crimes with which they were charged and then acquitted. Even with nine years as a prosecutor and fifteen as a criminal defense attorney I have no idea. But, the media and the citizens of our country have rushed to judgment on each of these women, and the cry is that Amanda Knox is innocent and Casey Anthony is guilty.
From my tiny corner view of the cases, there are striking similarities: issues with evidence: lack of and contamination of; issues with DNA evidence, lack of and contamination of; accusations based on people’s impressions of the post crime behavior of the accused (dancing all night versus cartwheels in the police station; witnesses pointing fingers or providing alibi testimony. Self-incriminating statements, pressure by law enforcement, but no clear evidence of the crime itself.
We are all one piece of bad luck away from being accused of a crime we didn’t commit. Don’t allow yourself to be the victim of an unequal system. Do exercise your rights. Always exercise your common sense!