The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

The Northerner

Marijuana laws need change

Nathan Brown

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The United States of America has been known for centuries as “The Land of the Free.” In this free land, many of us reside in the “free” state of Kentucky. I say “free” because of our oppressive marijuana laws that make it impossible for many to consider themselves truly free.

It does not take much research to find out that in Kentucky the penalty for one lousy joint can be up to one year in jail and a $500 fine, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (www.norml.org). The second offense is an automatic felony. A felony, folks, for consuming a damn plant.

From campus at Northern Kentucky University to the border of Ohio is seven miles. Once you cross the river into the free/decriminalized state of Ohio, the penalty for 100 grams or less (75 joints) of pot is a $100 civil citation with no wasted time involving incarceration.

In Ohio, there is not even a consideration of putting a patriot in jail until there are 200 or more grams involved. Today, as in the past, the river divides an oppressive state from a free one. On one side all citizens are suspects in an endless war and on the other side they slap your hand.

Why is it like this? What makes our laws and police here needlessly concentrate on non-violent offenders who are making their own choices to put something into their own bodies?

The reason Kentucky is still using tax dollar resources for enforcing these laws is because of our out of date philosophy on the plant itself. Lawmakers set the law so long ago and have been enforcing it so long that the plant has become inherently “evil.” They figure if they stop enforcing the laws now, then they would have somehow lost the war (which will happen eventually anyway).

Those who set the laws and policy in Frankfort would have you to believe we are better off spending our tax dollars to send the police driving around the suburbs sniffing the air. In 2004, 700,000 citizens of Kentucky and other “free” states were arrested for possessing marijuana.

Marijuana happens to be the third most popular drug used in the United States behind nicotine and alcohol. Yet in Kentucky we continue to punish these citizens rather than accept them. We would rather continue funneling more money into weapons, task forces, special agents, and prisons to maintain this absurd status quo. The lack of public outcry to change the existing policies in Kentucky is quite disturbing.

While there is still an abundance of marijuana available there have been plenty of casualties in this war. According to the Christian Science Moniter, persons of Latino and black decent are being jailed up in an disproportionate amount when compared to the amount to whites jailed for pot crimes. White people do just as many drugs as their Latino and black brothers and sisters yet they are jailed less. Therefore, the war on drugs is also a racist war.

Kentucky is not the “Land of the Free” if you cannot decide to put one certain substance into your body that, in my opinion, has proved to be less harmful than either alcohol or tobacco. If you do, you will immediately be involved in a war against you waged by your own government. They will arrest you only seven miles away from a state that has had the sense to realize what a waste it is incarcerate marijuana users. They will arrest you, take your money, let you back out and arrest you again and again. Write letters to the editor, call your congressmen and inform everyone you can about these nonsensical laws. Then maybe someday we can all smoke in peace.

Nathan Brown

Anthropology

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Marijuana laws need change