Reefer Madness


Attorney General Eric Holder has so thoroughly disgraced himself during his occupation of the big chair at the Department of Justice that those extremely rare moments during which he doesn’t sell weapons to Mexican narcoterrorists or perjure himself in front of Congress often go unnoticed. So let me say this: Holder got one right — sort of.

On Aug. 13, Holder announced a Department of Justice (DoJ) plan to curtail mandatory minimum sentencing for low-level, non-gang affiliated, nonviolent offenders. According to Holder, the aforementioned category “(W)ill be charged with offenses for which the accompanying sentences are better suited to their individual conduct, rather than excessive prison terms more appropriate for violent criminals or drug kingpins.” Of course, being Holder, he couldn’t resist the urge to work some imaginary racist element into the scenario, calling the higher rates of African-Americans incarcerated “shameful,” without noting the higher rates of African-Americans committing crimes.

There is a down side to a Holder-commanded DoJ removing its considerable surveillance and enforcement apparatus from the hemp-sandal set. Doritos and Taco Bell will almost certainly face shortages. And people who mention Jesus in their blog posts will notice an increase in the unmarked vans parked randomly across from the houses. But look on the bright side; the perversion factories and gladiator schools we call prisons will get less crowded, meaning the yard fights will be much more exciting.

According to the DoJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the DEA arrested 5,911 people for marijuana-related offenses in 2005 (the most recent year for which I could find reliable statistics). Marijuana-linked offenders represent about 13 percent of America’s prison inmates, or just less than 50,000 inmates nationwide. Throw in those awaiting trial or currently on probation for nonviolent marijuana-linked offenses, and the number jumps to more than 1,000 percent. That means the real bad guys — the rapists, the murderers and the Democratic mayors of large cities — have to share unnecessary space behind bars.

The cost of imprisoning every Cheech and Chong wannabe with grow lights in their hall closets comes in at about $1 billion annually. If America were to declare general amnesty for nonviolent marijuana offenders, we would save enough to fund every “green” energy boondoggle Obama’s cronies cook up and still have enough left over to bail out one or two auto manufacturers who’ve been driven into the wall by the union thugs.

On the social side, taking weed out of the criminal equation would spare millions of people from a future of checking the “yes” box under: “Have you ever been convicted of something that guarantees you have already peaked as a member of society?” That’s especially thoughtful, considering the fact that some of those millions of people smoke pot to relieve painful medical conditions like cancer and glaucoma.

Now, don’t mistake my intent here. I am not suggesting that we legalize all drugs. As an example, heroin should remain as illegal as assaulting Hispanic neighborhood-watch captains. “Meth” routinely turns users into hollow-eyed zombies who are capable of shocking acts of crime and/or violence against anyone at any time. Add cocaine to the mix, and the zombies may well include Hollywood producers, pop music stars and mayors of Washington, D.C.  The “hard stuff,” as it were, tears apart families, lives and communities. But marijuana doesn’t send potheads into drug-fueled crime sprees and tabloid headlines. According to the FBI, 86 percent of all marijuana-related arrests are for simple possession.

Granted, if you smoke enough weed over a long enough period of time, you may suffer some deleterious effects. Witness President Barack Hussein Obama’s understanding of American geography.  But if you do enough of almost anything, you’ll have a price to pay. Too much water can upset your electrolyte balance. Too much food can make you look like Michael Moore. Too much voting for Democrats can create Detroit.

In 1919, America got its puritanical panties twisted into enough of a knot to amend the Constitution to ban alcohol. While the demon rum has certainly done plenty of quantifiable damage over the years, the banning thereof not only didn’t kill our taste for a good stiff belt once in a while, it added colorful characters like Al Capone and his mafia pals to the popular lexicon. It took 13 years of unprecedented crime before the 18th Amendment met its end in a hail of nanny-state-induced gunfire. Fast-forward nearly a century, and we still have yet to understand why.

–Ben Crystal

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.