Pubdate: Thu, 02 Oct 2014
Source: Daily Times (Primos, PA)
Contact:  2014 The Daily Times
Author: Chris Goldstein
Note: Chris Goldstein is co-chair of PhillyNORML, based in 
Philadelphia. The mission of NORML, the National Organization for the 
Reform of Marijuana Laws, is to move public opinion sufficiently to 
legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as 
an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality 
marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable.


Immigration lawyer and columnist Christine Flowers calls cannabis 
consumers the "lowest common denominator" in a recent piece. The 
truth is quite the opposite.

The last three U.S. presidents admitted to an experience with the 
devil's lettuce along with scientists like Carl Sagan and possibly 
half of the NBA. In fact, 100 million Americans have tried cannabis.

Sprinkled with Latin and filled with a laundry list of marijuana 
cliches, Flowers decried Philadelphia's move to reduce penalties for 
pot possession. As a writer and legal expert she has, apparently, 
failed to do her homework.

First: Local cops in Delaware County already tend to issue a summons 
for marijuana possession. Philly's city officials agreed to the 
recent shift because more the 4,000 people were put into handcuffs 
and holding cells every year for small amounts of weed.

Second: In Delco most offenders make it to court and then plead to a 
lesser offense of disorderly conduct anyway. Not exactly the North 
Korean style of deterrent Flowers seeks.

Third: While African-American residents make up just 20 percent of 
the Delco population they account for 52 percent those summoned to 
court in Delco for marijuana possession.

Still, "happy grass" does not seem to be a real priority of Delco 
police departments. Population in the county is 562,000 and only 886 
people were nabbed for weed in 2013.

Of course, Flowers has an easy answer to the disturbing racial 
disparities in cannabis prohibition enforcement: Arrest more white people.

That would be easy to do in Delco, home to some of the biggest 
college campuses in Pennsylvania. Perhaps some large, expensive raids 
on the dorms of Penn State, Villanova, Swarthmore, Haverford and 
Widener to snuff out every joint would be in order.

Then again, that might not sit well with the white, somewhat 
privileged students or, especially, their parents. They might not 
want to see their kids harassed by police or lose their financial aid 
for experimenting with something far safer than alcohol.

Why does Flowers think that young, African-American adults in Philly 
deserve a harsher treatment than the Delco college students?

Far from some massive change in policy, Philadelphia is now simply 
acting like every other county in Pennsylvania. This will save more 
than $4 million per year in the public safety budget.

The new code will also put police back on the street for 17,000 hours 
per year instead of taking marijuana smokers in for fingerprints and photos.

So look out, college folks -- Christine Flowers wants to go back to 
the "Reefer Madness" days in Delco. She could be in your dorm room 
with a SWAT team the next time you hit that bong.

Because 70 years of marijuana prohibition at gunpoint has totally 
worked to uphold the pure moral fiber of our country and stopped 
people from partaking of this plant ... right?
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom