Drug laws trump constitutional rights


Ron Crumpton
UAB Kaleidoscope
October 28, 2010

Michael Lapihuska is facing a sentence that could be as severe as 10 years in prison, not for rape, burglary or assault, but for the possession of a single joint’s worth of marijuana.

Michael suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and has used cannabis for many years to combat the symptoms of his illness. After suffering arrests for possession, he moved to California.

There a doctor recommended he take marijuana for his disorder, and he became a legal patient in the state’s medical marijuana program.

On December 15, 2009, Michael was hitchhiking home from California to see his family for Christmas when he was stopped, searched – apparently for no reason – and arrested for possession of one gram of marijuana.

This has to make any rational person ask at least some of the following questions:
First, why are we still arresting people for possessing a substance that has been found to be less harmful than alcohol, tobacco or acetaminophen?

Second, since Michael is a legal patient in California’s medical marijuana program, why would Alabama wish to intercede in an agreement between the state of California, a doctor and a patient?

Third, even if it is against the law, what is the point of imposing such an exaggerated sentence upon the perpetrator of a victimless crime?

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Fourth, do you want to pay your taxes so that the state of Alabama can house a prisoner for the possession of one joint?

Fifth, why would anyone want to put a patient, not a criminal, in jail for taking his medicine?

I could ask questions like this all day long, and the one thing that they have in common is their indication of the senselessness of the situation.

During the escalation of the war on drugs in the 1990s, the United States Justice Department promoted its actions as an effort to take down the drug lords. However, 80 percent of the increased arrests were for marijuana possession.
If you are convicted of possession of marijuana, your chances of serving prison time are four percent greater than those of someone convicted of trafficking marijuana – 31 percent of marijuana users are sentenced to jail or prison time; traffickers, 27 percent.

This crazy war is not living up to the billing. We have spent millions upon millions of dollars in South America eradicating coca, but there is more cocaine in America than ever.

We eradicate marijuana grown in the U.S., which just means more marijuana coming from Mexico and more money going into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

Even if marijuana was every bit the dangerous substance they would have you believe, it still could not do 10 percent of the damage that prohibition has done to America.

Lapihuska already suffers from PTSD, and due to the possession of one joint, this man has been placed under extreme mental stress wondering if he is going to be spending the next 10 years of his life in prison.

It is amazing that our government is willing to trample the constitutional rights of its citizens and inflict such harm on society in order to protect the fiscal interests of the oil, pharmaceutical, chemical and timber companies.

It seems that our politicians are more concerned with campaign contributions and maintaining the status quo than they are to justice or the fair treatment of Americans.

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Michael Lapihuska is not a criminal. He is a 37-year-old man with a likable personality who is quite literally willing to give you the shirt off his back. This is not prosecution, it is persecution, and there comes a time when people of good conscience cannot sit idly by and allow their government to persecute their fellow citizens.

If we are not willing to stand up and fight for people like Michael, who will be willing to stand up and fight for us?


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