How would you define an ineffective law? One that doesn’t deliver the intended result, or perhaps one that costs more than it is worth? Perhaps an ineffective law is one that society doesn’t see a need for but the government keeps in place no matter the effects. In the Badger Herald, the student newspaper of the University of Wisconsin, a budding scholar looks at the state’s ineffective marijuana laws and asks these very questions.
According to Jared Mehre, the marijuana laws of Wisconsin are not only ineffective, but a waste of money and time. He says that the penalties do not match the crime and the state is funneling millions into marijuana enforcement and having no effects on the rate of marijuana usage.
According to a 2007 study from DrugScience.org and Jon Gettman, the state had 17,734 marijuana arrests in 2007 that resulted in some incarceration time. Nearly all (87%) were for possession. These cases cost the state over $132 million from arrest to discharge, accounting for 4% of the entire criminal justice budget that year.
And did it have a “positive” effect? Did those arrests and prosecutions really change anything in the world of marijuana-use? Not hardly.
Marijuana use has been on a steady increase. This could be because more and more people are willing to admit they smoke pot along with growing acceptance across the country or because more people are trying it in light of the lessening stigma. Still, the laws in place that serve to criminalize these consenting adults are surely not preventing marijuana use.
As Mehre points out, marijuana is penalized far more severely than drunk driving, despite the number of people drunk driving kills. While we don’t advocate for tougher drunk driving laws, we do see the imbalance in charging someone with a felony for a victimless crime while requiring 5 separate DUI offenses before that felony threshold is met.
So, what’s a proper solution? Like Mehre, many people say legalization is the way to go. And more and more it’s beginning to look like it could eventually happen across the nation. Though the feds are fighting to hold on to their drug war, a wave of change is spreading across the country.
If you are caught in possession of marijuana or even if you are accused of distribution, we may be able to help. Contact our offices today to discuss your case.