UVSS HEMPOLOGY 101 CLUB
LESSON #18 : CANNABIS AND THE LAW - Part 2
In a sample of Vancouver marijuana growing operations “busted” by the police, most of those who were convicted received no jail time: 55 percent. Five more percent were sentenced to a single day or less and another 8 percent received sentences of between one day and 31 days, while still another 8 percent received 60 days. Some 11 percent were sentenced to 90 days. Of those who are repeat offenders, half are reconvicted within the year. Of the 35 percent who were fined, the average fine amounted to less than $1,200: a small amount considering the size of most marijuana operations. While police resources are spent to destroy nearly 3,000 marijuana growing operations a year, the consequences are relatively small for those convicted. Easton, Stephen, MARIJUANA GROWTH IN BC, The Fraser Institute, 2004.
But in practise, the French law system is so harsh that it has even been condemned recently in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The reason is as follow: the use of illicit drugs (of any nature) is a minor offence, up to 1 year in jail -- "minor", a question of speaking... --, while possession and trafficking can lead to 20 years sentences, even life sentences -- according to the new Penal Code of 1994. But it happens that someone that is caught with tiny amounts of cannabis can easily prosecuted under the term of "detention of illicit drug with intent to trafficking by way of networked crime". And the Penal Code says that under this charge the police can keep you in custody for 4 days.
Usually for a common crime even serious one the custody is fixed at 1 or 2 days. So the police have the power to impose these 4 days of custody (without the presence of their lawyer) for the possession of cannabis for personal use. Europe has developed a legal system under the European Convention on Human Rights - which is a protection system for the convicted people. The European Court of Human Rights is based in Strasbourg, and recently it has condemned France for illegally convicted a man for possession of Cannabis. The Court said it was unfair to confine someone during 4 days without his lawyer's help, for the sole reason that he was in possession of illicit drugs. Unfortunately this decision doesn't force France to change its law. Auster & Thorel, CANNABIS AND MARIJUANA LAWS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT IN EUROPE, NORML Annual Conference, 2000.
On the day the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act was enacted -- Oct. 2, 1937 -- the FBI and Denver, Colorado, police raided the Lexington Hotel and arrested Samuel R. Caldwell, 58, an unemployed labourer and Moses Baca, 26. On Oct. 5, Caldwell went into the history trivia books as the first marijuana seller convicted under U.S. federal law. His customer, Baca, was found guilty of possession; Caldwell’s wares, two marijuana cigarettes. Caldwell was sentenced to four years of hard labour in Leavenworth Penitentiary, plus a $1,000 fine. Baca received 18 months incarceration. Both men served every day of their sentence. Bourrie, Mark, National Post, Jan 11, 2002.
The use of cannabis as a drug is still quite taboo and even hemp activists tend to make little mention of it. There isn’t much pressure in Japan for Dutch-style decriminalisation, partly because arrest figures are much smaller than in the west. While in 1997 some 695,200 people were arrested for marijuana in the USA, Japan with about half the population of the US only averaged 1,500-2,000 marijuana arrests per year over the last couple of years, almost half of those in Tokyo alone. These figures reflect not only a prevalence of hard drugs such as amphetamines and toxic solvents, they are also indicative of a high incentive not to get caught. Japanese prisons are infamous for their tough conditions, and are regarded by some as a holdover from the days of the military dictatorship of the 1940s. Japan has yet to sign the UN convention against torture. The maximum penalty for cannabis is 5 years for simple possession and 7 years for cultivation or smuggling. taima.org/en/canjpn.htm.
Speaker Newt Gingrich (himself an admitted former marijuana smoker), in 1996, proposed to introduce a mandatory death penalty for a second offence of smuggling 50 grams of marijuana into the United States, in the proposed law H.R. 4170. This proposal failed. Current Federal law (1994 Crime Act) sets the threshold for a possible death sentence for marijuana offences at 60,000 kilograms or 60,000 plants (including seedlings) regardless of weight. The death penalty is also possible for running a continuing criminal enterprise that distributes marijuana and receives more than $20 million in proceeds in one year, regardless of the weight of marijuana involved. Wikipedia.
Baum, Dan, SMOKE AND MIRRORS; THE WAR ON DRUGS AND THE POLITICS OF FAILURE, Little, Brown and Co., 1996
Boire, Richard, MARIJUANA LAW, Ronin Publishing, 1996
Bonnie, Richard + Whitebread, Charles H., THE MARIUANA CONVICTION: A HISTORY OF MARIJUANA PROHIBITION IN THE UNITED STATES, University of Virginia Press, 1974
Chong, Tommy, THE I CHONG: MEDIATIONS FROM THE JOINT, Simon & Schuster, 2006
Eby, David, THE ARREST HANDBOOK: A GUIDE TO YOUR RIGHTS, BC Civil Liberties Association, 2003
Fabricant & Crumb, BUSTED: DRUG WAR SURVIVAL SKILLS, Harper Paperbacks, 2005
Gross, Hawkeye, DRUG SMUGGLING: THE FORBIDDEN HANDBOOK, Paladin Press, 1992
Herer, Jack, THE EMPEROR WEARS NO CLOTHES, AH HA Publishing, 1985
Himmelson, Jerome, THE STRANGE CAREER OF MARIJUANA: POLITICS AND IDEOLOGY OF DRUG CONTROL IN AMERICA, Greenwood Press, 1993
Komisaruk, Katya, BEAT THE HEAT: HOW TO HANDLE ENCOUNTERS WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT, AK Press, 2004
Murphy, Emily, THE BLACK CANDLE, Thomas Allen, 1922
Rosenthal, Ed, ASK ED: MARIJUANA LAW: DON’T GET BUSTED, Quick American Archives, 2000
Rosenthal and Kubby, WHY MARIJUANA SHOULD BE LEGAL, Thunder Mouth Press, 1996
Scholsser, Eric, REEFER MADNESS: SEX, DRUGS AND CHEAP LABOUR IN THE AMERICAN BLACK MARKET, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003
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