Virginia General Assembly Expands Failed “War on Drugs”

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    Sometimes, you’ve just gotta ask, arethese people on drugs?!?

    The Senate passed its version of the bill [to criminalize synthetic marijuana, aka “spice”], by a vote of 37-0 on Friday. Both chambers’ bills would criminalize the possession and sale of the substance, but the Senate’s bill has stronger penalties.

    Under the bill sponsored by Sen. Mark R. Herring (D-Loudoun), possession of up to one half ounce of synthetic marijuana would be considered a Class 1 misdemeanor that brings up to one year in prison; possession of more than a half ounce would be a Class 5 felony, which carries penalties of up to 10 years in prison.

    Look, I have no problem with taking legislative action on “spice,” particularly in cases of big-time dealers of the stuff. But to send someone to jail for 10 years for mere possession of 0.51 ounces of this stuff? That’s bonkers. And this actually passed without a single opposing vote in the State Senate? Not one Senator has any concerns about this? Something’s seriously FUBAR here.

    As Sen. Webb has stated, The fact is, the “war on drugs” has been a miserable, pathetic failure, mostly a way for politicians to posture as “tough on crime.” But, as Jim Webb has pointed out in A Time to Fight, drug addiction “is a medical condition” that needs to be treated medically not criminally. Webb adds that “[t]he time has come to stop locking up people for mere possession and use of marijuana.”  And, as an AP article in May 2010 noted:

    After 40 years, the United States’ war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread.

    Even U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske concedes the strategy hasn’t worked.

    Exactly right; we should be moving in the opposite direction on drugs than we’ve been going, unless of course our goal is to go “completely jail-happy,” as Webb puts it, not to mention defining insanity (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results).

    So now, in Virginia, we’re going to criminalize tiny amounts of “spice” (which, I’d point out, is far FAR less dangerous than alcohol or cigarettes, at least in terms of how many people they make sick or kill each year)? All of which raises the question, what are these people smoking?!?  

    • Dan Sullivan

      Obviously, this is a gratuitous and meaningless gesture.  

    • blue bronc

      As long as the various governments “privatize” by giving governmental functions to the for profit sector the money will keep flowing. Private prisons are doing quite well with the war on drugs.

    • NotJohnSMosby

      some anger from the older generations against the kids, who once again found a loophole in the law.  They’re trying to send a message to every other chemistry genius who happens to also be a pothead that they shouldn’t spend scientific research time on ways to legally get high.

      Pot is nowhere near as destructive a drug as alcohol is.  Hopefully it will be legalized one day, and until it is, there will be crackdowns on pot and the substitutes that have been found for it.

      So, after cracking the whip on all of those evil spiceheads, how many Senators went left the Capitol last night and knocked back a few drinks?

    • Tom

      Has the Federal government classified Spice as an illegal drug? If not, how can a state de facto pre-empt such federal authority by making any substance illegal ? I guess there is some precedent for some states still prohibiting SALE of alcohol but not possession so far as I’m aware.

      If this becomes state law, I’d expect to see a rash of challenges in the courts soon. Assuming that the governor does sign it into law, how do the General Assembly and the governor intend to pay for defending the law in the courts ?

    • Steve Vaughan

      ..like U.S. policy on Cuba is one of those areas where we just continue to do the same old thing year after year after year, despite the fact that the policy is an obvious failure, and expect some different result.

      Isn’t that one of the definitions of insanity?