18 grams for 18 years?
For us cannabis smokers (especially those living in prohibition regions), smoking weed comes with a little risk. No, you’re not going to die from smoking weed, but you might end up in prison. Well, you could die if you smoke and get caught in the Philippines, but that’s another story.
Today we’re focusing on the story of Gary Howard, a poor stoner who got busted in 2014 with 18 grams of weed. Louisiana, known as the prison capitol of the world, decided to give Mr. Howard an 18-year sentence without the possibility of parole.
In other words, they are willing to spend over $400,000 USD to keep this man in jail for having less than an ounce of cannabis on him.
Why the Harsh Sentence?
There’s a couple of elements to factor in.
- The 18 grams was in 5 baggies
- There was a gun involved
- Louisiana is backwards as hell
The first thing we need to consider is the fact that Howard had 18 grams of weed in 5 baggies. Now for any serious stoner, 18 grams is nothing really. That’s our month supply or for some; 2 weeks. However, the Louisiana courts didn’t think so. They believed that because there were 5 bags, he wanted to sell it.
An expert, who came in defense of Howard said that it could have been for personal use and it’s highly likely that he actually purchased the weed like that.
The gun, I believe was one of the factors that pushed this ludicrous sentence. The gun was found in his apartment and this was probably one of the major reasons why the courts went so aggressively with the sentencing. Now, it’s important to note that Howard didn’t wield the gun, but rather it was just “found”.
Finally, Louisiana is backwards as hell. They have some of the worst cannabis laws on the books and for them, getting rid of “stoners” seems to be a higher priority than stopping rape or murder or any real crime. This is the reason why they are considered the “prison capitol of the world” mainly due to the fact that they have the highest incarceration rates in the world per capita. (Fun stuff)
How is this making society safer?
It isn’t! That’s all you need to know. The mere fact that the state believes that incarcerating a non-violent ‘offender’ for 18 years will make the world safer is ludicrous. In fact, one could argue that this sentencing is doing the exact opposite.
$400,000 more or less is the total cost it will take to keep Howard behind bars. This is $400,000 that could have been used to keep a murderer behind bars or even to get some more cops on the streets to stop real crime from occurring.
I have spoken a great deal in the past about how Prohibition actually makes society more dangerous and drugs more accessible. When you incarcerate non-violent offenders, you waste resources on keeping dangerous individuals off the streets. Additionally, in an uncontrolled environment, there are no regulations to keep drug dealers from selling to kids.
In other words, the actions portrayed by the Louisiana courts did a disservice to society by locking up a man who simply wanted to smoke a few bowls. Hell, even if he was going to “distribute” the weed to his friends, it wouldn’t justify the sentencing.
The Problem with Drug Laws
Drug Laws do not benefit society. After 80 years of prohibition, we should have learned this lesson by now. We know for a fact that regardless whether drugs are legal or illegal, people will continue to consume them. This is just human nature. You tell us we can’t do something, and what do you know, we’re doing it.
Drug Laws place a financial strain on the justice system and takes away resources from real crimes such as stopping human trafficking, murder, rape, robberies and so forth. Think about it this way, every stoner behind bars is a real criminal walking free.
It’s about high time we publicly shame people for abiding by these outdated laws. For instance, both the Judge and the Prosecutor in the case of Howard should be shamed. They should be called out on their heinous sentencing. Fortunately, this story has caught on and people are writing about it, including me.
Why? Because the world needs to know that there are outdated laws that are ruining not only the lives of the individuals caught in the crossfire, but the rest of society as well. It’s important that we raise our voices in unison to reprimand these actions and to hold the government accountable.
Unless we band together and showcase our public contempt with the current states of our laws, sentences like this will only continue to occur and non-violent people will continue to take up space that should be reserved for the violent.
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Published at Wed, 21 Jun 2017 05:00:00 +0000