Harsher Pot Punishments a Waste of Effort

Harsher Pot Punishments a Waste of Effort
Posted by CN Staff on January 15, 2008 at 06:01:20 PT
Staff Editorial
Source: Daily Nebraskan
Nebraska -- A state senator from Wilber who describes himself as a "redneck" wants harsher punishments for people caught with marijuana. Sen. Russ Karpisek points out that teenage drinking carries a harsher maximum punishment than possessing up to one pound of marijuana in Nebraska."It's one of those things us rednecks really get mad about," he told the Omaha World-Herald last week. Oh, Jesus.
First, let's get this out of the way: We support the legalization and regulation of marijuana for medical and recreational use in the United States.Smoking marijuana does not come with the harrowing health concerns, including lung cancer, of smoking tobacco cigarettes. Marijuana doesn't cause a fatal car crash every 30 minutes, like alcohol does in this country. And legalizing marijuana would significantly lessen the crime and other risks involved with smuggling the drug into the U.S.As a medical tool, marijuana has a host of benefits, including the treatment of glaucoma and some types of cancer. Lastly, as an occasional recreational drug, marijuana is rather enjoyable.However, because marijuana is not likely to become legal in Nebraska any time soon, let's look at why Karpisek's specific legislation is wrongheaded.According to state law, someone caught with one ounce of marijuana or less receives a $100 fine and the possibility of attending a drug course. Possessing between an ounce and a pound carries a penalty of up to one week in prison and a $500 fine.Meanwhile, a minor who is caught with alcohol faces a maximum $500 fine and 90 days in jail.Karpisek's comparison between MIP and marijuana laws is flawed for several reasons.First, kids who get first-offense MIPs typically receive a fine of about $250 and no jail time, not all that different from the penalty for having a few joints (which would be less than an ounce).Second, while alcohol might be the preferred drug for some state senators, it kills a hell of a lot more people - drunk driving alone causes more than 15,000 annual deaths in the U.S. - than marijuana does.There are other reasons why the bill doesn't make sense. It would swamp the Lancaster County Public Defender's Office. It would also place drug misdemeanors on the records of college students who get caught smoking a joint, possibly harming their ability to lock down some scholarships and jobs.For decades lawmakers have been chasing pot smokers, throwing them in jail and telling children that if they take a bong hit they're likely to end up dead in a ditch by the age of 15.These methods have proved ineffective and misguided.An excellent article, "How America Lost the War on Drugs, "in the November issue of Rolling Stone magazine concludes: "We continue to treat marijuana as a major threat to public health, even though we know it isn't. We continue to lock up generations of teenage drug dealers, even though we know imprisonment does little to reduce the amount of drugs sold on the street. And we continue to spend billions to fight drugs abroad, even though we know that military efforts are an ineffective way to cut the supply of narcotics in America or raise the price."The Unicameral would be wise to just say no to this imprudent legislation. It would be nice if our state's public policy was based on reason rather than a ganja witch hunt.Complete Title: Harsher Pot Punishments a Waste of Unicameral's Effort Source: Daily Nebraskan (U of NE, NE Edu)Published: January 15, 2008Copyright: 2008 Daily NebraskanContact:  letters dailynebraskan.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #8 posted by john wayne on January 23, 2008 at 22:58:04 PT
Like rednecks don't smoke weed.
And grow it too! This guy is no redneck. He's just buttneck stupid.
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Comment #7 posted by drfistusa on January 15, 2008 at 14:04:40 PT
Redneck is a Scottish protestant, 
followers of william of orange (Hill billies or billys) red neck was the red sash worn by the clergy around the neck. So to be a red neck you must be of Scottish origin. His name is not scottish so he can not be a red neck.
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Comment #6 posted by BGreen on January 15, 2008 at 13:01:41 PT
Redneck red-nekOften Disparaging.-noun1.	an uneducated white farm laborer, esp. from the South.2.	a bigot or reactionary, esp. from the rural working class.-adjective3.	Also, red-necked. narrow, prejudiced, or reactionary: a redneck attitude.************************************************************How is a white person calling yourself or someone else a redneck any better than a black person calling someone a n*****?A better question is why would you even listen to a person like that, let alone elect them to a public office?The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #5 posted by OverwhelmSam on January 15, 2008 at 12:46:29 PT
If You Think Marijuana Should Be Illegal...
While you guzzle beer and beat your wife...You must be a redneck.
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Comment #4 posted by Yanxor on January 15, 2008 at 12:41:10 PT
On Redneckery
I always thought that "redneck" was one of those terms that is only used to insult someone - like "islamo-facist."But I guess you can self-identify as a redneck, and why not, what with the proud culture and history they have.
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Comment #3 posted by Zandor on January 15, 2008 at 09:19:36 PT
Rednecks are funny!!
"It's one of those things us rednecks really get mad about,"He says this as he drives through the open window at the liquor store, orders up a tall boy and pops the top before he leaves the driveway and enters traffic taking a large drink.Don't mess with a mans beer or you risk angering another redneck. (lol) 
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Comment #2 posted by fight_4_freedom on January 15, 2008 at 08:50:31 PT:
Ex-Marine takes the point in pot campaign
Chris Durant The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 01/15/2008 01:21:13 AM PSTKenny Engel spent seven months ducking sniper fire and roadside bombs as a Marine in Ramadi, Iraq.
His team leader was shot and a friend was blown up within a week of each other, and his unit took fire nearly every day.When he returned home to Kansas in April 2006, on leave after his first tour, he had some troubles.
”I had a hard time adopting back to America,” said Engel, who now lives in Arcata. He had panic attacks and couldn't deal with life back home.”I smoked marijuana to calm myself down,” Engel said. “I'm not a big fan of Western medicine.”
Engel said the smoking worked.And now, kicked out of the Marines for failing a drug test, Engel is leading the Humboldt County charge for a initiative that would decriminalize marijuana and repeal all non-violent marijuana-related convictions.
After smoking marijuana, he said, he was better able to deal with going from a war zone to the safe confines of home in a matter of days and when his leave was over he returned to his home base at Twentynine Palms, Calif.That's when the trouble started.Engel said he failed a drug test and was immediately reduced from a lance corporal to a private first class and confined to his room on the base for 45 days.”Instead of dealing with any of my issues, they punished me,” Engel said. “They put me in a room to think about what I did.”The Marines also cut his pay, but ordered him to get his uniforms altered, which his mother had to help him pay for.He said he knew one Marine who failed a drug test with cocaine but was put back in the field. And he has heard of Marines failing tests for harder drugs, such as methamphetamine, and who returned to duty.As part of his punishment, Engel was also prevented from attending a Marine function where family members of fallen Marines from his unit were in attendance, including the parents of his team leader, Cpl. Jonathan Spears.
”I would have loved to talk to them,” Engel said, “because he was the most outstanding Marine.”And the father of his friend who was killed, Lance Cpl. Sergio Escobar, was asking other Marines where Engel was.His peers did not hold anything against him for the failed drug test, he said, but officers and some superiors would berate him.”One sergeant told me the reason Marines died in Iraq is because I smoked marijuana,” Engel said.
Within weeks of his unit going to Iraq for a second tour, Engel was kicked out of the Marines.”They came to my room one day and knocked on my door,” Engel said. “They said, 'You need to check in with the first sergeant. Your discharge papers are here.' I said 'What?'”Engel made it clear that he had not been looking for a ticket out of the Marines. The camaraderie and experience with his colleagues was strong, and he felt an obligation to be with them in Ramadi for the second tour, although he was vocal about what he described as insufficient equipment and weapons.
Within three days, he was off the base and couch-surfing from San Jose to Lake Tahoe.
In September he made his way to Arcata and “fell in love with it.””Arcata has a very strong sense of community,” Engel said, and that's the catalyst he has using to propel himself into getting enough signatures to qualify the California Cannabis Hemp and Health Initiative 2008 for the ballot.The initiative “decriminalizes possession, cultivation, transportation, distribution and use of marijuana or hemp,” the petition summary states. “Provides persons convicted or serving time for non-violent offenses involving marijuana be immediately released from prison, jail, parole or probation and be eligible to have their convictions erased.”The initiative covers every aspect of marijuana, from hemp used as fuel to medicinal uses, and Engel is passionate about every aspect.”It's the most beneficial natural resource in the world, and we're not allowed to use it,” Engel said. “Instead of it being the problem, let it be the solution.”More information on the initiative can be found by logging on to and clicking “initiative.”Chris Durant can be reached at 441-0506 or cdurant
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Comment #1 posted by OverwhelmSam on January 15, 2008 at 08:48:57 PT
How Does A Redneck Get Into The Legislature?
Must be a lot of ignorant rednecks in Nebraska to vote for a jerk like Karpisek. I've watched "My Redneck Wedding" a few times and people getting drunk on budwiser, mooning each other, farting and eating fried turkey balls should not be allowed to set marijuana policy.
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