Pubdate: Fri, 06 Mar 2015
Source: Lawrence Journal-World (KS)
Copyright: 2015 The Lawrence Journal-World
Author: Craig Voorhees


To the editor:

The Lawrence Police Department has received approval to set up a K-9 
unit. The chief of police said the dogs will be used to, among other 
things, find large quantities of marijuana. This means that the dogs 
will ratchet up the war on drugs.

The laws in Kansas against selling marijuana were already severe when 
the Brownback administration introduced new legislation that made the 
penalties for some cases of selling marijuana harsher than the 
penalties for some cases of violent crime. The administration also 
enacted legislation that makes it harder for people convicted of 
selling marijuana to receive probation. Placing someone convicted of 
selling marijuana in prison, where they are thrown in with long-term 
criminals, can actually make them more prone to re-offend when they 
get out than they would be if they were placed on probation.

Until 2011, judges had the option of offering probation to people who 
sold marijuana, even people who sold lots of it, if the judge 
determined that they would be less likely to re-offend after 
probation than if they went to prison. But the new legislation sets 
the legal bar for probation a lot higher. The new laws require the 
judge to find a special reason, a "substantial and compelling" 
reason, in legalese, to grant probation for people selling anything 
over even 1 ounce of marijuana. It's very difficult for a judge to 
find special circumstances for probation. This makes it likely that 
anyone caught selling over an ounce of marijuana in Lawrence will now 
spend significant time in prison.

Craig Voorhees, Lawrence
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