decriminalization of marijuana

Law enforcement balks at Hemp revolution for all the wrong reasons

These aren't the flower tops you're looking for, move along:

"Law enforcement cannot discern the difference between smokable hemp and marijuana, and our State Crime Lab cannot discern the difference because they can't discern the level of the THC that it contains," Peg Dorer, director of the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys, told members of the Senate Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources committee on Thursday.

The farm bill would create a presumption in state law that licensed hemp farmers aren't growing marijuana, but Dorer said that creates a loophole that would basically legalize marijuana in the state. "Law enforcement will not be able to seize or arrest for marijuana because they can't tell, and prosecutors will have a very difficult time and will not be able to prosecute any violations of marijuana laws," she said.

Um, good? Prosecutors are already looking at a mountain of prior convictions that will need to be re-evaluated and expunged once marijuana is decriminalized, the last thing they need to be doing is adding to that pile. As far as police are concerned, this could actually make their jobs easier, and free them up to pursue violent criminals (you know, rapists and murderers and such). And here's another obvious truism: Decriminalization or outright legalization of marijuana for recreational use will decouple the kind bud from the supply chains of other narcotics like opioids and cocaine, better isolating the purveyors of such. On a separate but related note, I was not aware that smokable hemp even existed, but it's apparently a pretty big deal:

A History of Marijuana Law Reform in NC, Part II - 2001 to Present

2001 – 2002 Session

House Bill 1240, Medical Use of Marijuana/Study, sponsored by Democrat Paul Luebke – proposed a Legislative Research Commission to study the lawful possession, cultivation, and use of marijuana for the purpose of treating or alleviating pain or other symptoms associated with certain debilitating medical conditions. Referred to Rules Committee and postponed indefinitely. http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2001/Bills/House/HTML/H1240v1.html

2003 – 2004 Session

A History of Marijuana Law Reform in NC, Part I: Decriminalization

During the 1970’s, lawmakers across the country were forced to deal with an explosion of arrests for marijuana possession. Many legislators were especially concerned that young people from good families would live under the cloud of a felony record for the sole crime of possessing a few joints. In 1977, North Carolina decriminalized possession of marijuana making a first time offense of possession of up to one ounce a misdemeanor with a suspended sentence and a $100.00 fine.

Somebody save us from hard-headed police chiefs

No amount of studious research can fix stupid:

The workload could be reallocated away from petty marijuana arrests, City Council, the mayor and social justice advocates say. Although Lopez says DPD has never prioritized low-level pot busts, the ones that occur still disproportionately affect people of color. White pot smokers get away with it; blacks do not.

To which Lopez, ever charismatic, replied, “I would recommend to people concerned about this issue that they not smoke marijuana.”

Setting aside for a moment the harmless (and often medically helpful) nature of marijuana and the moral imperative to decriminalize it, when your racially-tuned crime-control dragnet scoops up a heck of a lot more people of color than their white counterparts, busting those otherwise innocent kids for small quantities of marijuana represents a horrifically "unjust" system. Two eighteen year-old boys, both recreational pot users. One gets busted and his future darkens, the other easily flies under police radar and stumbles through UNC on the five-year plan. It''s the difference between making $25,000 per year and $55,000. Just felt like throwing some numbers out there. It's not always about bad choices or bad luck, there are institutional factors that play a part. We can't easily fix the choices thing, but we can (and should) address those institutional problems.

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