YOUR OPINION: U.S. Legal System Unjustly Targets Marijuana Possession
By Your Opinion // December 30, 2018
People would like to believe that the U.S. runs a fair legal system, but that is not the case when it comes to drug charges regarding marijuana.
According to Keller Law Offices it is legal in 29 states to consume cannabis products for medical reasons. However, because the drug is not legal under federal law, it is not legal for individuals to transport marijuana or cannabinoid products across state lines.
However, most Americans believe that drug sentences are too harsh in the United States. In addition to that, many drug possession suspects end up with court-appointed lawyers who don’t represent their clients in the best way, which leads to a higher conviction rate.
Why are Some States Anti Cannabis?
There are a lot of reasons why the American legal system reacts harshly toward drug offenders.
For one, the U.S. correctional system is profit-based. Local, state, and federal jurisdictions use a vast number of privately owned prisons and pretrial detention centers as a way to confront overcrowding issues.
A few of these privately owned and operated prisons and holding facilities are owned by local, state, and federal magistrates. In some cases, if the facility is not owned by a magistrate, they own the land forth which the facility was built upon.
Using a relatively harmless drug for recreational purposes is highly regulated because it is so common, making it easier to make arrests. Prisons then use these incarcerated individuals as laborers, paying them nothing in most cases.
Of course, private companies that own and operate numerous prisons and detention centers throughout the US throw their full support in favor of politicians who are the most aggressive in the fight against drug legalization.
Propaganda is another reason it’s nearly impossible to get recreational narcotic use legalized, with continual propagation of unproven statistics and the perpetuation of myths.
These are just some of the reasons why America seems determined to sentence people who do not need to be in prison. The problem is so big that statistics show that 39 percent of all prisoners should not be serving time.
What can Americans do to Fight This System?
In the long run, one of the best things an American can do is be informed and do his or her best to spread this information to ensure that lawmakers introduce effective prison reform. This route may be effective, but Americans who are facing sentencing need to take other steps to fight a system that does not seem to be on the side of the defendant.
Perhaps one of the most important steps to take as a person facing a possible sentence is to hire an experienced attorney.
Sure, the courts can provide representation, but these legal experts are usually inundated with cases and do not have much time to work on a case.
The intentions of these freely provided legal experts may be noble. Sadly, this could end up reducing the chances of escaping harsh sentences.
Yes, money is always a key factor, but investing in good legal representation could mean the difference between freedom and incarceration.
This is especially true in a system that does not seem to favor people who do not hire a professional and opt to use the legal expert provided.
Another thing that can be done, with the help of a lawyer, is to wear down the prosecutor. These individuals know that most drug possessions are not a big deal, but they rely on the defendant’s ignorance and paint a worst-case scenario, hoping the defendant will panic and cop to a deal.
This is the reason that defendants who do their best to create things like depositions and document requests could actually force an overworked prosecutor to drop the charges.
Some counties offer drug offenders the opportunity to pay fines, court costs, and take a rehabilitation class in order to dismiss the case.
However, this is not offered in every jurisdiction, and it’s usually offered to people with no criminal history or people found with a small amount of cannabis.
People who are unable or unwilling to participate in overly expensive substance abuse classes in return for a lighter sentence or dismissal will be forced to take their case to trial or accept a plea agreement that includes jail time.
One of the most effective tactics used by lawyers to defend a person facing such situations involves attacking how the arresting officer(s) collected, handled and stored crucial evidence.
Additionally, a seasoned lawyer can attempt to poke holes into the police reports or show that protocol had been broken, which is a violation of your civil rights – or show they lacked probable cause for a search and seizure.
A good lawyer may also be able to examine the alleged illegal substance in question and prove it’s not an illegal substance after all.
For example, cannabis has around 113 different properties that are very similar and often confused as being Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the active psychoactive constituent of cannabis.
Knowledgeable lawyers will most likely be able to prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt if this is the case.
Fighting a legal system that seems to be determined to incarcerate is not going to be easy, but hopefully, legislative changes help, and informed defendants should continue to fight the good fight.
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