With the recent pot legalization in Colorado and Washington, there is one particular and flagrant inconsistency. One of the strongest arguments for legalization was to focus on “real crime” and not marijuana users who wanted to stay at home and get high. In some states, marijuana possession can still land a person a life sentence.
And even though pot legalization has passed, those who have been thrown in prison for the same behavior as all those currently toking it up will not see any sort of reduction in their sentences—let alone commuted.
That mechanism is called retroactive ameliorate relief—or, at least, it would be. Unfortunately, it does not exist in the US justice system.
Know who else does not have retroactive ameliorate relief? Pakistan, Oman, Myanmar (formerly Burma), and several other nations with equally appalling human rights records—that is who. Heck, even Russia—who recently made being gay illegal—has retroactive ameliorate relief.
Addiction drives people to do crazy things. Marijuana legalization is a contentious issue, but no one deserves to lose years of their life because they either chose to get high, or were driven to it by their disease.
And where are the protests? Rallies have been a staple of the marijuana legalization movement for decades, but now that it is coming to pass, where is all that indignation when it comes to the lives of users who got caught?
In fact, it is the same principle that the government relies on with regards to its lack of retroactive ameliorate relief: it was illegal at the time of the action, therefore it was still a violation of the law, and violations of the law need to be punished.
There is logic in that, albeit a callous one that sets a double standard, especially since the law is supposed to protect its citizens. And hey, if they do not need protecting from something, then why subject those people to years of torture if there was no danger in the first place?
As jaded as it sounds, it is because that is what we want as a nation. More specifically, we want our elected representatives to convey our values, and one of our greatest values is a no-nonsense approach to crime. However, when we think crime, we often think of rape, murder, robbery, arson, et al. We do not think of the guy who was looking to pocket a pound of weed for taking his buddy’s shipment across state lines, and then got popped for it, landing in federal prison for 25 years.
Then again, how else are our officials going to change things? If there is no demonstrable outrage on those individuals’ behalves, where is the payoff for them to risk looking weak on crime and risking losing the next election?
Well, that was part of the plan with legalizing marijuana. At least, that was what the story was. We were told it was about far more than being able to get high, but apparently those who were supporting it forgot about those other aspects of it once they got what they wanted all along, regardless of how that affected anyone else.
And they say marijuana is not addictive…
What are your thoughts? Are things working as claimed, or have people in Washington and Colorado been hosed? Let us know in the comments!