Papaver Somnerific In the midst of the already complicated discussion about the legalization of various drugs, someone just had to throw out another grenade:

A large chunk of the people in jail are there because of the draconian drug laws. Law enforcement has had major distortions of its incentives over the years because of dubious removal of property: look up forfeiture sometime.

The price of MJ is high not because it’s expensive to grow but because of its prohibition. Much of the violence in that sort of market happen because it’s a black market. If you could buy Philip Morris’ manufactured Rasta Man Ganja down at the Circle K (with a nice big tax funding public health measures) you’d see the prices go down, the violence and criminality sucked out of the market, the cops being able to go back to what they should be doing, etc.

Now this was not nearly so disputed as other aspects, but there was still some lively discussion about what punishments are too much, too little, etc.

Angry Midwesterner
I definitely agree the punishments are wrong. Having illegal drugs shouldn’t typically put someone in jail. A crippling fine is more appropriate.

Mildly Piqued Academician
Perhaps, though a crippling fine is a quick route to jail for many. It (like jail) is also collective punishment in that it imposes a very stiff cost on others, i.e., family members. The question is, essentially, how serious is use of marijuana? Also, would abuse be caught by other, already illegal, offenses? For instance, DUI already applies to marijuana, and, in fact, a whole pile of other drugs that
impair driving, many of which are even prescribed.

Angry Midwesterner
Tough! States assign crippling fines for driving infractions and numerous other things. Strung out druggies can deal. If VA can give out $1000 speeding tickets, druggies can suck up an equal fine.

Mildly Piqued Academician
This seems to fall into the “two wrongs” category to me. States’ use of crazy driving fines is pretty sleazy, too. But point taken.

Angry Midwesterner
It’s better than getting slammed into by some douchebag frat boy doing 120 on I-74. [ed. Who is far more likely to be drunk than high, *ahem*…]

Mildly Piqued Academician
Exactly, though of course that’s really an “opportunity” thing, and I don’t see how crippling fines are going to stop THAT particular issue anyway.

Many states treat traffic fines as revenue sources and have gone to similarly sleazy ends as drug war’s forfeiture.

Angry Fascist Libertarian
Well there is the issue of how fines are complete bullshit. A $1000 fine is crippling for one person, and a joke for another. So as a society we are saying that a millionaire who can afford the fines has the fucking right to drive however the hell he wants to, but the single mom barely getting by needs to fork out $150 for a busted taillight (that she had because she couldn’t afford to fix it at that time anyway).

Oh well little johnny didn’t need to eat that day anyway, didn’t you hear that America has an obesity problem.

How about % of income/asset fines. So say a 10 mile over the limit fine on Bill Gates is equivalent to a few jumbo jets, and a fine on a broke college student is say a six pack of beer.

As for Virginia, they are a police state who subsist off of traffic fines for revenue, screw ’em.

Angry Overeducated Catholic
Well, you wouldn’t want scaling fines either, because then we’d be overrun by frat boys going 120 with specially modified (and fraternity subsidized) cars going “deer splatting” or whatever insane activity they’d think up.

Start the fine at a significant amount (I think Illinois gets it right at $75, $125, and $whatever the judge damn well feels like for 0-20, 20-30, and 30+ respectively). Also, be like Illinois and threaten to haul them off to jail, real jail (for a short period), for 30+ mph violations.

But then, yes, I agree scale the fines for repeat offenders but make the heavy additional fines dependent upon income. So a doubling of the base fine, plus perhaps 3% of the value of your car.

Angry Virginian
If VA can give out $1000 speeding tickets, druggies can suck up an equal fine.

Actually, it can’t, at least not for more than a couple months. The ridiculous “abusive driver fees” ran into trouble in the court of law and the court of public opinion very quickly, and they were repealed in March.

Also, when you said “crippling fine”, I envisioned something more like $10,000, not $1,000. I think that $1000 is probably also out of proportion, but then again, I’m also on the “legalize and regulate” side of this argument. The $1000 fine would hurt, but if you were able to afford a regular marijuana habit, then you ought to eventually be able to pay that off without resorting to any ironic criminal measures.

Mildly Piqued Academician
I’m also on the “legalize and regulate” side of this argument.

Ah, a man of good sense. 🙂

The $1000 fine would hurt, but if you were able to afford a regular marijuana habit, then you ought to eventually be able to pay that off without resorting to any ironic criminal measures.

That Dorito bill really adds up!

Angry Overeducated Catholic
At the very least, you’ve got to support the dismantling of the current idiotic drug legislation. And not just replace it with crippling fines whose only purpose will be to make the lives of poor folks even more unbearable.

Angry Midwesterner
MJ can be illegal, and we can set penalties so they are not life ruining. Carting around MJ for personal use should, IMHO, carry no stiffer fine than public drunkenness, or reckless driving.

As AV noted my idea of crippling is a bit lower than his (and probably yours). I’m just meaning something where the cost of doing it is going to set you back quite a bit.

Angry Overeducated Catholic
Although I would support legalization, if you wanted to propose replacing the current legal structure with a fine structure on the level of public drunkenness or speeding (reckless driving is a criminal offense for which you may be jailed), I’ll throw my support behind your efforts 100%.

I’m just meaning something where the cost of doing it is going to set you back quite a bit.

Well, set it too high and you face either imprisoning those who won’t pay or waiving the fine for many offenders. But, sure set it at something like $250 or some such. Something which sucks, but not hard enough to routinely ruin lives.

Not my ideal world, but far better—and watch the street price plummet and the dealers howl…

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