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Thursday, 24 September 2015 09:08

The Stupidity of Marijuana Laws

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A Washington state prosecutor has charged thee teenagers with felonies for a case that was a misdemeanor just recently. The teens face up to five years in prison as opposed to the prior maximum penalty of a 90-day county jail sentence.
According to Asotin County Prosecutor Ben Nichols, Senate Bill 5052, just passed this year by the State Legislature and approved by Governor Jay Inslee, mandates a higher level offense and he has no latitude to reduce the penalty.

"If you are a minor, a person under 21, it's a felony no matter what," Nichols said.
The bill was sponsored by Senator Ann Rivers who told news sources the tougher penalty was "designed to deter minors from trying marijuana."
"We have to send a message to our kids: This will hurt you in more ways than one if you decide to participate," Rivers added.
A spokesman for Governor Inslee told the Tribune that upgrading charges to a felony under these circumstances was not the legislative or executive intent when he signed the law which was supposed to focus on the state's medical marijuana regulations.
"I can only tell you that this was not the intention that the governor had when working with legislators on this bill," said Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith.
Smith further added that while "keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors was a priority," there were "other ways to do that without charging them with felonies."
Legal observers say the Governor can't change the law himself, but legislators will be taking a look at it when they meet in 2016 for the scheduled legislative session.
Attorney, Rick Laws who is representing one of the juveniles said remedies in 2016 won't help his client now.
"That's an awfully high price for a few people to have to pay for faulty legislative work," Laws said.
Prosecutor Nichols noted that even if the law were changed, anyone convicted under the current law "would have to return to court to have that conviction vacated."
Meanwhile it appears that the three juveniles, ages 14, 15 and 17 will remain under a felony prosecution despite the best intentions of the Washington Justice system. Inconsistent and incongruent applications of marijuana laws and stark differences in those laws depending on what state a person is in, continues to cause problems for those caught in the middle of a flawed system. Exacerbating the issue is also the lack of consistency in how the federal government accepts or doesn't accept the myriad differences between the states. Federal marijuana laws still classifies the drug as a felony in most cases and the degree of scrutiny by the feds varies heavily from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

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