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July 2011
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This judge gets it

“Can’t sugarcoat this,” said Judge Robert Richter. “To take somebody and threaten their life in that fashion. . . Smoking marijuana doesn’t make you do that. Somebody in college studying criminal justice should know.”

This was from an article about a former college student who mugged Kal Penn at gunpoint and tried to explain his actions due to struggling with drug use.

I never have any sympathy for people who try to excuse their violent crimes because of their drug use. No, it is the individual who is responsible, not the drug.

Even though the Twinkie Defense is really a myth, the very concept quite appropriately mocks the notion that a substance can be held responsible for violent crimes.

[Thanks, Andrew]

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34 comments to This judge gets it

  • rita

    One judge out of how many? And meanwhile, the story has been all over the front-page of the local newspaper: “Mugger admits to being addicted to pot.” And here we go again.

  • vickyvampire

    Everything you makes sense,Pete but nutters,like Savage on talk radio and possibly Michelle Bachman and others that hate Marijuana or Recreational drug use in general are maybe not sure look for anything to blame,and an excuse for keeping Pot illegal.

    I knows some of these folks will be going,see Pot made him psychotic and deranged WE MUST SAVE THE CHILDREN. but they forget about the millions and millions of peaceful regulars Marijuana users who never are violent and don’t kill anything except maybe a few go deer hunting or fishing spray ants with pesticide HA HA.

  • DdC

    ‘After Two Puffs, I Was Turned Into a Bat’

    Anslinger’s assertions were rarely questioned, and his few critics, like the anti-prohibitionist mayor of New York, Frank La Guardia, were subjected to smears and rebuttals. Anslinger swept all before him for decades, to the extent that his success began to pose its own problems. Admitting to marijuana use became a popular way of avoiding conscription, and murderers cited the brainwashing powers of “an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality and death” to plead diminished responsibility for their crimes. Their claims were frequently supported by an expert witness, the pharmacologist Dr James Munch, who claimed that “after two puffs on a marijuana cigarette, I was turned into a bat”. Sentences were commuted from death to imprisonment on Munch’s evidence, and Anslinger had to ask him to stop testifying.

    NFL’s Buzzkill

    Police also claimed that the availability of cannabis in the Netherlands probably helped to defuse any violence. Scores of ticketless England fans gathered in coffee shops in Eindhoven, where cannabis is sold and smoked, to watch the game, greeting the defeat with mild disappointment and unusually, gentle applause. “It (cannabis) may have helped relax them,” Mr Beelan added. “Even the hooligans enjoyed the party – and they told our officers. There were lots of things for fans to do and everybody had a good time.”

    * Fans Too Relaxed for Fights
    * Cannabis Helps Keep Fans Calm
    * Euro 2000 Soccer Violence Could Vanish in a Puff

    HARRY ANSLINGER’S GORE FILE reefermadnessmuseum

    Reefer Madness Newspaper Headlines

    AXE MURDER – KILLS WHOLE FAMILY: A seventeen-year-old boy in a Southern state smoked a marijuana cigarette handed him in a poolroom. When he arrived home, he imagined that his family had been conspiring to dismember him. To forestall this, he hacked his father, mother, sister and two brothers to death with an ax

    GIRL SLAYERS: In New Jersey, a young woman recently confessed that she and a girl companion lad held up and coldly murdered a bus driver. She had been smoking marijuana cigarettes or “reefers,” she said and didn’t know what she was doing. — The CHRISTIAN CENTURY – June 29, 1938

    CHILD RAPIST: Recently in Baltimore a young man was sent to the electric chair for having raped a girl while under the influence of marihuana. — Mr. Anslinger 1937 Congressional Testimony.

    “Cannabis smoking does not lead directly to mental or physical deterioration… Those who have consumed marijuana for a period of years showed no mental or physical deterioration which may be attributed to the drug. The use of marijuana does not lead to morphine or heroin or cocaine addiction and no effort is made to create a market for these narcotics by stimulating the practice of marijuana smoking. Marijuana is not the determining factor in the commission of major crime….The publicity concerning the catastrophic effect of marijuana smoking in New York City, is unfounded”
    ~ LaGuardia Commission Report, 1944

    And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there, and there is, Group W’s where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after committing your special crime, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly looking people on the bench there. Mother rapers. Father stabbers. Father rapers! Father rapers sitting right there on the bench next to me! And they was mean and nasty and ugly and horrible crime-type guys sitting on the bench next to me. And the meanest, ugliest, nastiest one, the meanest father raper of them all, was coming over to me and he was mean ‘n’ ugly ‘n’ nasty ‘n’ horrible and all kind of things and he sat down next to me and said, “Kid, whad’ya get?” I said, “I didn’t get nothing, I had to pay $50 and pick up the garbage.” He said, “What were you arrested for, kid?” And I said, “Littering.” And they all moved away from me on the bench there, and the hairy eyeball and all kinds of mean nasty things, till I said, “And creating a nuisance…

    KID, HAVE YOU REHABILITATED YOURSELF?

    I went over to the sargent, said, “Sargeant, you got a lot a damn gall to ask me if I’ve rehabilitated myself, I mean, I mean, I mean that just, I’m sittin’ here on the bench, I mean I’m sittin here on the Group W bench ’cause you want to know if I’m moral enough join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after bein’ a litterbug.” He looked at me and said, “Kid, we don’t like your kind, and we’re gonna send you fingerprints off to Washington.”
    ~ Alice’s Restaurant By Arlo Guthrie

    • thelbert

      laguardia’s given name was fiorello. he was plenty prohibitionist, having banned the sale and possession of artichokes. once fined an entire courtroom fifty cents each for living in a city where a person has to steal bread in order to eat, then gave money to a woman charged with stealing bread, after fining her $10. she left the court 47.50 the better. that’s my kind of republican.

    • D… this part about the Netherlands and Portugal soccer matches… it’s always been the proof in the pudding for me working medical at concerts and festivals. Over the years (and especially here lately) I’ve been asking my peers in the medical and security which they’d prefer, a ganja smoking crowd or people drinking booze. The question usually brings a laugh and an “are you kidding?” kinda look.

      In my dozen or so years doing rockmed I’ve had exactly TWO people in the tent because of pot. One was just high and had one too many gals vying for his attention – he just wanted to listen to the music, not them. The other was booze/pot mix so that doesn’t really count. Grampa Semu always said anything is ok if you can handle it, just don’t mix your substances.

      And these days, because of the drug war, promoters are really not interested in dealing with the RAVE act so they truly discourage pot use, which in my amateur, semi-professional and professional opinion, really sucks.

      Last night was the Wailers w/ Steel Pulse headlining, medical had ONE incident, alcohol related. And the difference between say a Michael Franti show and a Tech9 gig… wow. Booze in public sucks. Pot in public events works.

      NFL players should be encouraged to consume cannabis… UFC… any intense contact sport should validate and support cannabis use by their athletes. And think of the poor vendors! If fans could consume herb at events (like tobacco, in a segregated space) food sales would skyrocket…

      I mean really, why does capitalism apply to everything but cannabis? Legal cannabis could be as big an industry in the NW as either regional beer producers or the wine industry.

      And here is where I began to swear, which, I won’t but will only wish a good eve.

      Oh, and somebody’s keys fell between the cushions on Pete’s couch…

      • darkcycle

        It says it all, Allan. Booze is different in one major, significant way: it is a DISinhibitor. Cannabis is not. It’s a simple distinction, but one lost on the majority.

      • Windy

        “I mean really, why does capitalism apply to everything but cannabis?”
        Actually, Alan, we don’t truly have free-market capitalism in this country, we have managed/regulated (by the government) capitalism, which is not much better than socialism or fascism. True free-market capitalism has no government interference or regulation, it is strictly between seller and buyer.

  • ezrydn

    Yet, the two top killer drugs (alcohol and nicotine) are happily allocated by our “caring” government. What would we expect from a House and Senate full of alky-druggies?

  • Francis

    I agree that we should hold the individual responsible rather than the substance. Having said that, what’s your take on the link between alcohol and violence? For example, this comes from “Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?”:

    “The U.S. government estimates that alcohol contributes to 25 to 30 percent of all violent crime in the America, including 30 percent of homicides and 22.5 percent of sexual assaults. However, the approach federal researchers used to calculate these figures attributes the use of alcohol as a primary cause of violent behavior in only 50 percent of the cases where the perpetrator had been drinking. Yes, you read that correctly. In order to be conservative with their estimates, researchers only consider booze to be a contributing factor in half of the cases in which alcohol was actually involved. This means that in reality alcohol was involved in some manner in 60 percent of homicides and almost half of all sexual assaults.”

  • primus

    Francis: Alcohol has different effects on different people; some become happy, others reckless, others become violent. Young drinkers very quickly find out what kind of ‘drunk’ they are. If the effects are that the drinker becomes reckless, and he chooses to get drunk and drive, he must accept responsibility because he chose to drink, knowing what the effects would be. Likewise if booze makes you violent yet you still drink, then you are choosing to be violent. The outcome is your responsibility. Freedom without responsibility leads to chaos.

    • Francis

      I think that’s absolutely fair and wasn’t trying to give anyone the impression that I’m pining for the return of Prohibition: Original Recipe. But like you said, it seems undeniable that the effect of alcohol on AT LEAST SOME PEOPLE is to promote violence. Has a comparable link been shown between other recreational drugs and violence? I guess I’m just making the point that if we as a society had to “pick one” legal recreational intoxicant (and in a free society, we don’t!), it seems like we made a hell of a strange choice.

      BTW, anyone heard that saying that while many drugs promote “altered consciousness,” alcohol promotes “altered UNconsciousness”?

      • Julian

        From a pharmalogical stand point alcohol has the same effect on everyone (who falls into the catagory of biologically “normal”), it lowers inhibitions while sedating the parts of the brain responsible for logic and reasoning. This can lead to people becoming happy and out going becuase their inhibitions were stopping them from being so or it can lead to people becoming violent and angry because again their inhibitions were stopping them. This is very dangerous in our society because our society encourages repression which leads to anger which is then repressed again and a cycle is created that leads many people to feel as though the world is taking advantage of them and they deserve things they do not have. When those people drink many times their repression becomes inhibited and their anger is directed outwards in a violent manor in an attempt to procure what they feel they deserve.

        Studies have been done, although not to many recently which would lead me to say the ones that exist are most likely biased, on the effects of different drugs on various moods and states of conciousness (anger, violence, apathey, et cetera) I will say that the studies did show that besides the drugs that directly stimulated the areas of the brain incharge of fight or flight (like methamphetamines) or those that inhibit our ability to control ourselves and our primal drives (like alcohol) a lot of the correlation between violence and drug use has to do with the mind set of the user and the setting in which the drug was consumed.

        Not sure if that helps but its all I got.
        Metta

  • darkcycle

    Say, I know this is OT, but has anybody set your hair on fire today? Looks as if the Zetas are thinking of overthrowing the current Mexican Government (in other words, the Sinaloas). That is if this report is correct….
    http://deadlinelive.info/2011/07/20/former-dea-and-cia-operatives-los-zetas-may-attempt-to-overthrow-mexican-government-in-2012-with-stockpiles-of-u-s-government-supplied-weapons/

    • darkcycle

      However, the source is questionable. I was directed there by a link at another, more serious site….

  • vickyvampire

    Great Link, Darkcycle,Yeah,Jaime’s mom was saying posting on Norml about her daughter Jaime being shackled hands and feet for hours with no food or water or access to her diabetic meds,I’m thinking I can see being shackled if for a little while you just arrested a serial killer who had weapons,but even then you do not deprive,a person even a scummy serial killer of basic Nourishment,and medical needs.

    My God are we like third world prison conditions.
    Someone named Chris on Norml also posted that Quote (Gays are more accepted than potheads).
    I know you would think that both movements see more acceptance around same time.

    I heard there is a movement in America,yeah it has been ongoing for quite a few years and it actually legal for Women to participate in this activity in some states in certain cities,but they of course still catch some trouble for it.

    They are having a Women going Topless March,Sunday,August 28,2011 Yup just like gays I’ll bet this movement will become more acceptable before Marijuana becomes fully legal,Yeah its silly but you never know so many things being accepted that were impossible years before. HA HA TGIF, Trust me would not surprise me.!!.

    http://www.gotopless.org/

    • Francis

      I think the parallels between acceptance of gays and “drug users” are interesting. Stigma against both groups involves “otherization.” With gays, “coming out of the closet” was and is a very powerful tool for battling hate and discrimination. It’s a lot harder to “otherize” gays when that group includes someone you know and care about. I saw a reference to a poll that showed that 77% of Americans say they know someone who is gay. That’s still absurdly low but it compares to 42% of Americans who said they personally knew a gay person in 1992. I wonder how many Americans would say that they personally know an illicit drug user or a pot smoker? How do you think the sizes of those populations compare to the size of the gay population?

      As far as the Go Topless movement, how could anyone NOT support it?!

      • Francis

        One of the obvious impediments to “coming out” as a drug user in an effort to reduce stigma is that whole “self-incrimination” thing. So levels of stigma remain high which perpetuates support for the WOD which impedes “coming out” thus perpetuating stigma… and on and on it goes.

        “That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed.
        “It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .
    Frankly I think that out of control use should be an aggravating factor rather than mitigating. “Oh, you lost control of your facilities? Well you sure as shit can’t give this Court any reassurance that you won’t do that again. If you lost control of your faculties and committed a crime in the past how could you reassure this Court that you won’t lose control of your faculties in the future. Add 5 years to that already stiff prison term for the (_______) I think that you’re a menace to the community.”

    Blaming it on drugs and getting a reduced punishment is analogous to the double murderer throwing himself on the mercy of the Court because he’s an orphan when making his statement of exactly why he had murdered his parents.

  • darkcycle

    Righty-right, Duncan. Being a washed up, unemployed, starving buggy-whip maker may be an excuse. I mean, every body’s gotta eat, right? But to blame a clearly volitional act (robbery) on a clearly volitional act (marijuana use is NOT addicting; the user is not attempting to avoid imminent, unbearable sickness) just beggars comprehension. It’s like claiming: “Your Honor, I did it because I’m a dumb shit.” and expecting clemency.

  • Francis

    Ha, the judge’s quote reminds me of Bob Saget’s classic line from “Half-Baked.” (I won’t repeat it here since this is a family website, but I imagine you all know the one.)

  • damaged justice

    Frank Zappa: “Ingesting a substance does not magically bestow upon you the right to act like an asshole.”

  • it is painfully obvious that violence from drugs is primarily due to prohibition. google the 2011 white drug control strategy and you will be amazed at the out right lies they are telling.

  • pfroehlich2004

    Hey everyone, please take a few minutes and check out this site:

    https://secure.americanselect.org/my-colors

    Their goal is to create a viable, centrist, third presidential ticket, elected by an Internet convention. Apparently they have already collected the 1.6 million signatures required to get on the ballot in California, so it seems to have some real momentum.

    Given the low probability of either Ron Paul or Gary Johnson clinching the Republican nomination, this presents a new opportunity for the drug reform community to inject itself into the 2012 presidential election.

    As of yet, there is only one rather vague question regarding drug policy, “Are we winning the war on drugs?” I have suggested adding the following 2 questions:

    1)Should the Department of Justice be ordered to cease prosecuting persons involved in the production and distribution of medical marijuana in accordance with state law?

    2)Should marijuana be regulated like alcohol and tobacco?

    When you visit the site, please “like” my questions and/or suggest some of your own.

    • Windy

      pfroehlich, the only question that should be asked is:
      “Does the government have the Constitutional authority to govern an individual’s ingestion of any substances at all?”

      The Constitutional answer to that question is:
      “HELL NO!”

      As I wrote over at StoptheDrugWar:
      One does NOT need permission from any government person or agency to exercise a right, every human being has the unalienable right to ingest whatever substances one wants to ingest, and the government has no legitimate authority to stop ingestion of certain substances. It’s just too bad ALL people do not realize those facts. It is our job, as ones who do realize those facts, to educate those who do not.

      It is such a simple concept, self ownership and unalienable rights, but the government has been so good at indoctrinating most Americans to believe otherwise. We need to break that brainwashing with letters to the editor, and talking to our neighbors, friends, families, and even the next person in line at the store. We are never going to convince most politicians as they are as brainwashed as the average citizen (or they are corrupted by the anti-legalization donors to their campaign coffers), so we must do it at the local level, grassroots.

      • pfroehlich2004

        Windy, I entirely concur with you but, obviously, we are still very much in the minority. However, marijuana re-legalization is very much within our grasp.

        When the entire country has seen a few years of legal marijuana sales without society collapsing, I think a lot more folks will start questioning prohibition in general. At the moment though, there is simply too much irrational fear for a total end to prohibition to be politically feasible.

  • dt

    I hate hearing people say things like “drugs killed Amy Winehouse.” No. Sadly, Amy Winehouse killed herself with drugs. Drugs don’t kill people; people kill people.

    • dt

      Was it exactly the same level of intentionality as putting a gun to her own head? Maybe not, but she must have known what she was doing.

      • darkcycle

        Addiction is a compulsion. While many addicts intentionally take their own lives with deliberate overdose, the majority of fatal overdoses are accidental. I wish I knew why intensely creative and talented individuals are often more self destructive than the general population.
        It sucks when we lose one of the greats. Whether it’s Buddy Holly in a plane crash, or Amy Winehouse in a human train-wreck.

  • Peter

    The Guardian has a not very well thought out article on the 40 year wod:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jul/24/war-on-drugs-40-years
    Author Ed Vuillamy tells us that “In Tijuana in 2009, addicts could not believe their luck – those arriving at a Narcóticos Anónimos session were amazed that possession of up to four lines of cocaine or 50mg of heroin was now legal.” He gives no explanation about his assertion that the addicts found this out at a “Narcóticos Anónimos session” i.e an NA meeting, as though this were some kind of information forum for addicts seeking the latest legal status of drugs.
    At least one comment uses the death of Amy Winehouse as support for prohibition…