I just teamed up with women’s lib writer Barbara Walker and Dr. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School to publish on Kindle Pot Stories and Atheist Essays 

One piece, “Pot Story,” offers a very persuasive polemic for legalization and at the same time shows some of the misery and suffering that unwise laws have caused over the decades.  One section describes Harry Anslinger, the founder and first commissioner of the Prohibition Movement, as a conspicuous bigot and inarguable moron. 

Ms. Walker, in her inimitable style, writes of the abuses of religion over the centuries and the mistreatment of women, mostly due to original sin.

Also included is a podcast of Dr. Grinspoon where he categorically states there is no physical damage to the body at all.  He tells the story of how he first turned on, exhorted by none other than Carl Sagan on a cruise to a conference in Europe. 

If you’re interested in marijuana, either medically or recreationally, this is a must read so you’ll know what you’re doing or talking about.  Lot’s to discuss, n’est-ce pas?  

 

Tags: 420, Barbara, Goscicki, Rich, Walker, atheism, grass, marijuana

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prosecutor's often have to follow the laws

This is probably true.  That's why I'm curious how a prosecutor deals with being against the drug war.  How do they cope in their own minds? 

Probably being a prosecutor does mean having to seek prison time for things that to someone opposed to drug prohibition, aren't crimes at all.  Such as growing a lot of marijuana.  Or, as I said, being a smalltime marijuana dealer who treats their clients well.

If I try to imagine being in this situation, it seems brutal.  To cope mentally, I imagine prosecutors might have to turn off their empathy for the victim.  Or judge them as "riffraff". 

I don't feel judgmental about it, but this is a situation I haven't been in and I'm curious about what it does to people in it. 

I've encountered police in the drug enforcement situation.  But you don't get to ask this kind of question when they're doing their job.  They're there to intimidate and exert force.  So I'm curious about what it's like on their side. 

You could look at it in a positive way also.  In one of the Stephen Donaldson Covenant novels, there was a passage that stuck with me forever.  Something like "Only the powerless are innocent.  To be powerful is to be guilty.  Only the damned are saved".  Prosecutors also do a lot of good.  As Pat pointed out to us. 

But I wonder how he and prosecutors in general feel about the victimizing by prosecution of people who haven't really done anything wrong.

Prosecutors and judges see the HUGE role of drug prohibition in our criminal justice system.  They see all the drug-related murders and drug-related crimes.  The courts are clogged with such cases.  They SEE the downside of drug prohibition for themselves.  So what does it feel like to be a reluctant Drug Warrior? 

My social psych professor at NYU, Phillip Zimbardo, devoted this career to these questions.  He wrote the back page promo for my Mirror Reversal and plugged his own The Lucifer Effect.  The authoritarian personality has a way of categorizing behavior.  They weren’t prosecuting innocent people they were doing their job.  The killer is the third precept of the principle, that which makes any evil possible, the belief they were doing “for a greater good.” 

 

k.h.  Well said, thanks.  I didn't mean to single out Pat.  It's the system that's despicable.  Of course I realize most officials are cogs in the wheel. But these people have had their way long enough. Consider the Corrections Corp of American lobbying for stricter drug laws and more prisoners. And they coerce inmates to work so they make even more money aside from the exorbitant amount they charge the government.  It's like in China. 

It's not the good of society that drives the system; it's money.  

3 minute video of British show talking about US prison system, some interesting statistics:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xc1gF-XicUM

Thanks for keeping this important post alive, Sky. I couldn't get the video but I know the stats pretty wel

The video is there, and it's interesting and funny.

Pat, I enjoy this debate and will answer the best I can.  Just remember you represent “the system” so try to mind your manners and no vile language please.  I’ll try to answer any reasonable, well-thought-out criticism. 

You said i>stereotyping. If anyone needs to apologize, I suggest it's you, for your irrational depiction of an entire group of people.>>>

Quite right, I did apologize.  It’s just that the crime against reason and the American people is so egregious one tends to generalize a bit in determining the source of guilt.  As a former pot smoking, Viet Nam War-protesting hippie, it’s difficult to stay objective and not let emotions becloud one’s thinking by forming stereotypes.  To me at the time, anybody who didn’t smoke was a war mongering, militant “flag-waver” who condoned dropping burning phosphorus (napalm) on primitive villages on the other side of the world. Ever see the famous photo of the naked child running away from her burning village?  Ever get burning phosphorus on your skin?  Sprinkling water on it makes it worse.  I think anyone with a tinge of human compassion for the war victims would have a tendency to generalize. The culprits all wore the same uniform.   

< false and scurrilous accusation once again.>>>

For one thing I didn’t mention any names, only referring to previous comments.  I’m trying to find my “scurrilous accusation” but all I can come up with is a very important and germane question.

i>… I asked a reader here, a prosecutor, if he was thinking of Reefer Madness (Harry’s propaganda film, rivaling his contemporary, Joseph Goebbels) when he sent innocent kids to a life of iron bars, clanging doors, sterile aluminum and food pigs would be reluctant to eat—not to mention the loneliness and self-alienation..>>>    

I admit I’m failing to differentiate between the judge and the prosecutor, the latter being the person who analyzes the evidence, determines if a law had been broken and then recommends punishment.  I fail to see the difference between recommending and pleading for punishment and actually sentencing the unfortunate victim. 

All right, forget about Reefer Madness.  I see you’d rather not answer the question after two tries.  Better put, what was your excuse or rationale for pleading that the accused be incarcerated for the trivial offense of smoking pot and getting high?  I think it’s a fair question, fairly posed—it’s the very topic of the debate. 

So, while you’re at it, I have another question you’ll probably find equally offensive and embarrassing to answer, yet equally appropriate being we’re on the subject.  

Question:  Knowing full well that this country leads the world in the incidence of prison homosexual anal rape, more than the entire world’s other countries combined, did you take this into account when you recommended periods of time for the incarceration?  Did you ever think about the horror of being raped under these circumstances and what it might do to a young’s man self-esteem and self-image, not to mention risk of STDs.  Was the violation justified?  In other words, did the punishment fit the crime? 

As black comedian Chris Rock yells out contemptuously in his Harlem stand-up routine:  “All the kid did was smoke a joint and get high and they sent him to jail.”

 

  

what was your excuse or rationale for pleading that the accused be incarcerated for the trivial offense of smoking pot and getting high?

Did Pat ever actually try to get someone jailed just for smoking MJ? Where is your evidence for that accusation?

Probably Pat did do some things that went against his personal beliefs, though.  He hasn't discussed what he did with the cases in the middle, such as people selling MJ who weren't implicated in any violence.  That's where being part of the Drug War system could become morally corrosive - where people have to become drug warriors to some extent, despite seeing the harm the Drug War does.  Pat would have seen a lot of that harm. 

I would suppose that Pat probably did his job, and he likely did it well. On TV I see situations where Nancy Grace tries to manipulate things by getting the words of others to fit her preconcieved ideas of the subject. Real law is not always that dramatic.

I lived in Texas for 20 years and did not pay my child support. Once back in this state the prosecutor nailed me and you could buy a house with the accrued back interest alone. I told him what I could do, and started dealing. He approached the judge with my ideas of dropping the back interest and this was granted, but the state would no longer talk to me. They were pissed! This was the same judge who granted the original divorce, and we bypassed the state enforcement agency and I paid the county seat until all payments were made. That settled the matter and got it off the books.

First of all, Sky Masterson was the Marlin Brando character in Guys and Dolls. Damon Runyon was a master at characterization.

Laura, perhaps we have a different understanding of the word "prosecutor."  To me, it's the attorney that pleads the case of the state and demands the accused be punished for the crime. To my mind the prosecutor is more to blame for the injustice than the judge because the latter serves more as an impartial arbiter.  In most cases prosecutors seek the maximum punishment allowable because it looks good on their records and it appeases their twisted sense of justice. (I use the word "twisted" because we're not talking about the Craig's List killer but rather someone who tries to temporarily escape from a routine monotonous life and there are no victims.)  

Appropriate to my current question, when a young culprit is sent to prison the punishment frequently includes homosexual rape, at least a significant probability.  So repeating the question, are prosecutors aware of this and do they feel that the punishment fits the crime.  What makes this situation so revolting, at least in my opinion, is that the insanity and cruelty are INSTITUTIONALIZED. 

I'd also like to bring out that many historians fault the faceless bureaucrats, the careerist functionaries, that made WWII possible and all the suffering therein.  They were "the system."  

So the question stands:  Do the prosecutors (not judges being there's such a distinction) take into account the likelihood of rape or is it they just don't care?  If the latter they are analogous to the efficient Nazi railroad clerks that stamped their documents that kept the trains running on time that sent the condemned speedily on their way to Auschwitz.  They just did their jobs and their careers were all that mattered.

 

 

You asked:

what was your excuse or rationale for pleading that the accused be incarcerated for the trivial offense of smoking pot and getting high?

What evidence do you have that Pat did such a thing?

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