Now, in these difficult economic times, it may really be time to try something new, and different. I will be the first to admit that the legalization or the decriminalization of all drugs or even most drugs may not be in society’s best interest, I am willing to consider alternatives. I absolutely agree that these SJF crimes should be reduced to misdemeanor offenses, as too often people are being convicted of felonies for miniscule amounts of an illegal substance. Even when these people are given deferred ajudication probations, often the conditions are so stringent that a saint would have a difficult time completing them.
So, as kaptinemo wrote about fighting the drug war and spending trillions of dollars, which I agree is a worthless fight and an unwinnable one at that, I propose the following:
- legalize the possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana;
- criminalize its use when driving (similar to DWI, afterall, is pot really any worse than alcohol);
- allow the government to regulate the sale of marijuana and tax it (similar to tobacco); and
- reduce the levels from SJF to misdemeanor offenses on other drug crimes.
This process would guarantee that the marijuana is not laced with something more addictive or harmful and would allow the government to create revenue to help pay off its trillions of dollars in expenses. Not to mention, not fighting the "war on pot" would save counties, states, and the government in general large sums of money (purposely I am being vague as I do not have a figure to write).
Further, it would save money on prosecutions and those convicted of the SJF amounts of other substances. And, as to John Bradley’s comment about shifting the burden of work to another office, I believe this would only allow a couple of things to happen:
- assistant district attorney’s would have more time to review and handle the other, "more serious" cases; and / or
- given that these ADAs are also county employees, nothing would prevent them, aside from politics, from working on some of these lower level cases, unless the agencies in question absolutely refuse to work together or share responsibilities; afterall, both are paid by county tax dollars and both work for "The County".
To conclude, pushing more people into the criminal justice system, whether it is by placing them on probation or putting them in jail or prison is not the answer. We already have the highest percentage of our population involved in this system, at least among the developed world.