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Dr. Stonedlaw: Or How I Stopped Toking and Learned to Love the Law
May 16, 2005 7:18 AM   Subscribe

"Defending America's Most Vulnerable" - a new bill, introduced in the House by the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Sensenbrenner (R-WI). Among other provisions, 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for a first-time conviction of distributing a small amount of marijuana to a person under 18 years of age; virtually every drug crime committed in urban areas subject to "drug free zone" penalties that carries a five-year mandatory minimum sentence; a 2-year sentence for those who witness or learn about drug distribution near colleges and do not report it to authorities within 24 hours and do not provide full assistance investigating, apprehending, and prosecuting the offender.
posted by daksya (45 comments total)

 
The Marijuana Policy Project reports, "This bill has traction because it also contains a section that serves as the House Republican leadership's response to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made the Federal Sentencing Guidelines advisory, rather than mandatory. The Republican leadership is highly motivated to pass this bill -- and with it, the harsh new penalties related to marijuana."
posted by daksya at 7:18 AM on May 16, 2005


Where is the nearest Gestapo recruiting office?
posted by jsavimbi at 7:21 AM on May 16, 2005


a 2-year sentence for those who witness or learn about drug distribution near colleges and do not report it to authorities within 24 hours and do not provide full assistance investigating, apprehending, and prosecuting the offender.

Great. Mandated snitch culture.
posted by jonmc at 7:21 AM on May 16, 2005


Oh, Canada...
posted by LouReedsSon at 7:25 AM on May 16, 2005


Is the final stage of the drug war--harsher and harsher sentences for laws that don't work, a public backlash, and then, surrender? Or am I dreaming?
posted by LarryC at 7:28 AM on May 16, 2005


I can't take it anymore, I'm moving to Canada!
posted by ecocozza at 7:30 AM on May 16, 2005


Run Emigrate while you can!
posted by flippant at 7:47 AM on May 16, 2005


<sarcasm="loud,obnoxious">This should work. We all know drug dealers are afraid of jail... </sarcasm>
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:47 AM on May 16, 2005


We need to give the drug warriors what they want. On-site, trial-free capital punishment for anyone failing a state-mandated piss test.

Then Social Security will be in serious fucking trouble.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:50 AM on May 16, 2005


a 2-year sentence for those who witness or learn about drug distribution near colleges and do not report it to authorities within 24 hours and do not provide full assistance investigating, apprehending, and prosecuting the offender.

What the hell does this mean? Full assistance apprehending the offender? So I go to a party, see a guy sell another guy some weed (HORROR!) and then this law obligates me to wear a wire and chase this guy down alleys and shit?I didn't know the government could compel you to do anything like this.
posted by jon_kill at 7:56 AM on May 16, 2005


Where, exactly, is the money for the huge prisons we'll need coming from? I mean, if you think jails are big now, then hold on, because we'd be in for a wild ride with this kind of legislation.
posted by mikeh at 7:57 AM on May 16, 2005


a 2-year sentence for those who witness or learn about drug distribution near colleges and do not report it to authorities within 24 hours and do not provide full assistance investigating, apprehending, and prosecuting the offender.

Seriously, that's Fucked Up. Two years in jail for not doing the cops' job for them?

near colleges

And since when did college students become 'America's Most Vulnerable?'
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:02 AM on May 16, 2005


I want some of whatever Sensenbrenner's high on.
posted by fungible at 8:09 AM on May 16, 2005


So, are they having trouble filling up the jails now that we don't have violent crime anymore?

If this passes it won't be long before some well-meaning kid who is just trying to follow the law gets killed for narcing (narking?) on the wrong people. Turning all college students into unpaid police informants is a Very Bad Idea.
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:13 AM on May 16, 2005


Not that this bill isn't really horrible, but the summary in this post is incorrect. You only get the 10-year mandatory minimum if "the defendant was the parent or guardian or otherwise responsible for the care or supervision of the person under the age of 18 or the incompetent person" (sect. 424a). Meaning, if you give drugs to your kids, as I understand it.
posted by goatdog at 8:13 AM on May 16, 2005


Where, exactly, is the money for the huge prisons we'll need coming from?

Oh, don't worry; we'll just rendition 'em to Ashcanistan.
posted by alumshubby at 8:13 AM on May 16, 2005


I want some of whatever Sensenbrenner's high on

he's high on freedom. get you some, citizen!
posted by lord_wolf at 8:23 AM on May 16, 2005


Can't we just get some sensible Canadians to move down here? We could use the votes. Do we really want to abandon this country and leave the arsenal to the crazies?
posted by blendor at 8:31 AM on May 16, 2005


So will we now have DEA officers setting up fake drug deals on collage campuses to catch those who witness drug distribution and fail to report it?
posted by Tenuki at 8:53 AM on May 16, 2005


What do you mean, "leave"? They already have it. All they're doing now is strengthening their grasp on the population needed to consume, so they can pay for it.

Other areas in which to be horrified:
Section 6, paragraph 3 says that, if you just plead guilty and turn over your friends, that we'll go easy on you.

Section 10 makes posession or storage of an illegal substance the same as transporting it. Heck, it doesn't even have to be illegal - the same section now apparently makes possession of any legal ingredient that can be used to create an illegal substance subject to the Controlled Substances Act.

Section 11 adds a nice "three strikes" rule as well, with life in prison without release.

Canadians aren't stupid - why move into a bad situation?
posted by FormlessOne at 8:53 AM on May 16, 2005


Where, exactly, is the money for the huge prisons we'll need coming from?

Free Enterprise, dude.
posted by Al_Truist at 9:31 AM on May 16, 2005


Seriously, that's Fucked Up. Two years in jail for not doing the cops' job for them?

I've always wondered about the constitutionality of "good samaritan" laws.

L.A. Times had a good opinion against HR 1528.

Instead of cutting drug use, the real goal of this bill is to score political points in a larger war against the judiciary.

Too true.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:32 AM on May 16, 2005


I ripped this from this weeks Georgia Straight (Vancouver free weekly)
In A Short History of Progress , Wright explores the strangeness that grips failed civilizations in their dying hours. They tend to cleave ever more closely to their priesthoods and their official truths, no matter the disturbing rumours from the frontiers. The Soviets behaved this way, and a a kaleidoscopic array of underground journals, pamphlets, and books emerged as early as the Stalin era to tell the truth about what was really going on.

posted by futureproof at 11:32 AM on May 16, 2005


They change (or make) laws to suite their cause.
posted by LowDog at 12:12 PM on May 16, 2005


It's hard for me to belive this bill would actualy pass. But who knows...
posted by delmoi at 12:23 PM on May 16, 2005


I'm moving to Austin next year. How can I even make it from home to work without narcing on someone if this passes? Without toked-up college students, half the burrito joints in that town would close.

And how would you prove you didn't know about it? "Well officer, the smoke did smell strange, but gosh darn it, I've never smoked marijuana, and I just thought it was some kind of foreign tobacco blend."
posted by emjaybee at 12:30 PM on May 16, 2005


Sensenbrenner, isn't this the same guy who brought us that RealID crap last week? That was attached to Iraq funding? I wonder what must-pass legislation he'll attach this to.
posted by SirOmega at 12:59 PM on May 16, 2005


What we need is manditory forced immigration from canada to florida and ohio.
posted by delmoi at 1:38 PM on May 16, 2005



Where, exactly, is the money for the huge prisons we'll need coming from?

Free Enterprise, dude.
posted by Al_Truist at 9:31 AM PST on May 16 [!]


Al_Truist has it. Prisoners are the new slave-labor, and they save companies ALOT of money. It's getting quite frightening.
Inmates working at UNICOR (the federal prison industry corporation) make recycled furniture and work 40 hours a week for about $40 per month. Mandatory minimums mean guaranteed and virtually free labor for a specific amount of time. And higher profits.
posted by Espoo2 at 2:30 PM on May 16, 2005


Why do I hate America?
posted by mosch at 3:04 PM on May 16, 2005


How the hell did the USA get this way? What went wrong? The place started out with such lofty hopes and plans -- the Declaration and original Constitution are incredible documents -- and then... well, lately it seems to be just falling apart.

What happened?
posted by five fresh fish at 3:04 PM on May 16, 2005


Mandatory minimums mean guaranteed and virtually free labor for a specific amount of time. And higher profits.

Sooner or later, they're going to run out of people to sell the stuff TO, if we're all in prison. But by then, the CEOs running the scam will have long-since cashed in their golden parachute stock deals, since short-term profits are all that matter any more.

Lotsa luck to us, we're gonna need it.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:11 PM on May 16, 2005


Is he proposing this new legislation because the prisons are empty or because he's an utter moron?

He must have had a really, really bad experience to hate the demonweed so much. Like, some gay guy must have come on to him or something. Or maybe he found himself attracted to a gay man and that scart him somethin' fierce?
posted by fenriq at 3:23 PM on May 16, 2005


AHHHHHHH!!!! Fucking Sensenbrenner!!!! Yes, he was behind RealID, not to mention all kinds of other shit. I was in his district previously (before I could vote, unfortunately) and I've written this asshat letters quite a few times (~1/2 about drug issues) - to date he has not once agreed with anything I've written him on. And the letters I get back are SO. FUCKING. DUMB. Thankfully, I don't live in his district anymore (my new representative, who I voted for, is Gwen Moore [who, being a younger black female democrat, is just about diametrically opposed to Sensenbrenner]). So hopefully I'll have more luck with her not embarrassing the state.
posted by nTeleKy at 3:33 PM on May 16, 2005


five fresh fish writes "The place started out with such lofty hopes and plans"

Yeah, genocide and forced migrations for the natives, the Middle Passage and slavery for the Africans, theocracy in New England and wanna-be feudal lords in the South.

Such lofty hopes.

Ah, I'm playing at being more cynical than I really am; I understand your sentiment completely. For all their faults, at least the Founders passionately believed in liberty and were willing to risk their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor" for it.

But today, we're a nation of convenience: McDonald's is convenient, gas-guzzling SUVs are convenient, believing the lies we're told about WMDs is convenient, torturing and murdered Ay-rabs for a false sense of security, is convenient.
posted by orthogonality at 4:38 PM on May 16, 2005


a 2-year sentence for those who witness or learn about drug distribution near colleges and do not report it to authorities

So you have to be arrested before you have the right to remain silent?
posted by fatbobsmith at 4:53 PM on May 16, 2005


ah so he's secretly trying to save the american economy by increasing the supply of cheap labor! a patriot and man of vision!
posted by stratastar at 5:08 PM on May 16, 2005


Where exactly in the bill is the part about two year sentences for failing to report the witness of a drug deal?
posted by futureproof at 6:04 PM on May 16, 2005


futureproof, it's in section 425a and 425b: "(a) It shall be unlawful for any person who witnesses or learns of a violation...to fail to report the offense to law enforcement officials... (b) Any person who violates subsection (a) of this section shall be sentenced to not less than two years or more than 10 years."
posted by goatdog at 7:58 PM on May 16, 2005


Mandatory two year sentences! Incredible!

You guys are so fucked down there.

Maybe this will finally prove the straw that breaks the camel's back. Maybe this will finally make the general public sit up and take notice of just how freakin loony things have become. And then, maybe, hope against hope, they'll start to speak up.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:59 PM on May 16, 2005


And since when did college students become 'America's Most Vulnerable?'

Um, since this bill was introduced?

(In the sense of vulnerable to time in the big house for the crime of being a college student, or being an accessory to being a college student)
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:50 PM on May 16, 2005


so was Orwell's 1984 really that off (except the date)? This is simply more ignorance causing bad legislation.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little
temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
- Benjamin Franklin

That pretty much sums it up.
posted by eljuanbobo at 8:07 AM on May 17, 2005


I say it's about time. You can always manage to find the malcontents, dissidents and liberal radicals in any community by looking for the drug trade, and these people target our children, trying to make a buck while at the same time subverting their morals.

We need to make sure to continue sending the message to the kids in this country that we don't approve of their escapist drug habits. We need to be strong and sober to continue to implement the policies of a new world order.
posted by nervousfritz at 9:24 AM on May 17, 2005


no wonder you're nervous, fritz. people are trying to steal your precious bodily fluids!
posted by Hat Maui at 11:53 AM on May 17, 2005


Well I think most americans 'know' in their hearts that not everything is swell in paradise; but the PR machine that has the Red states fearing for their lives, cuz them 20 somethin arabs may go nukyoolur, has done its job extremely well. I as a canadian sincerely hope for a return to more reasonable leadership in the US. The world, like it or not, needs a strong and reasonable US leadership and unfortunately we lost that a few short years ago.
posted by canucklehead at 7:59 PM on June 14, 2005


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