Webb County asked the DPS lab in Laredo not to test misdemeanor marihuana cases until we let them know that the case was going to court. Three weeks later, DPS made it official policy across the State.
Now, of course, the question becomes this: is it time to legalize, decriminalize, or otherwise change our marihuana laws?
I am engaging in self debate the idea of legalizing personal use amounts, provided that regulation and standardization of THC concentrates and purity are covered. And tax it. On the other hand, I would like to see penalties increased for making it available to a minor. I have seen too many cases of "adulterated" product resulting in severe medical complications, and am tired of subsidizing the cartels. Additionally, there is way too much access for kids to the plant - maybe we could at least attack that a little more.
Don't get me wrong. I don't drink, and I don't use drugs. The world would be a much better place without intoxicants. I also know, however, that I would rather be locked in a room full of "stoners" than a room full of drunks. At least the stoners will just eat your food and play your music too loud. Drunks will kill you.
(Before you argue about the effect on DWI, let's face it - we could always bust those who drive impaired on any drug. We need to work on our DWI laws in general, but that is another matter.)
It's not an easy decision to make. But something has to be done. My view has always been that you will not get rid of illicit drug use in society unless you make it painful for the users. It is too lucrative for the dealers. 100 stand in line to take the place of the last dealer you put away. If you made it mandatory for everyone who gets caught with weed to do 30 days (no bail for drug users, either), you would cut out about 75% of drug use overnight. Make it 120 days for the hard drugs. This is a very draconian view, and I would actually rather see this than legalization, but there is no way society would support this. Even if you made the penalties administrative, rather than criminal, we just don't have the guts for it.
What do you think? The time grows short, in my mind, to ignore the question any longer.
The official letter is attached. The policy was tested in the Panhandle's I-40 corridor and DPS received no serious complaints, so they are now taking it statewide.
My question is: what does one (lab overcrowding due to blood draws, etc.) have to do with the other (decriminalization)?
MISD_submission_letter.pdf (49 Kb, 26 downloads)
One has nothing to do with the other. I do know, however, that some jurisdictions are just giving class C citations on the occasional "roach". Some jurisdictions, reportedly, will not touch personal use cases now.........
The lab decision made me think of what was going on around the State........
The letter makes it clear that the lab is only making the change as a "temporary" measure to deal with larger caseloads. The response, while troubling to prosecutors, really is a reasoned method for prioritizing its work.
Our response should be to cooperate. And perhaps to show up during the next session, alongside defense attorneys, and request additional funding for DPS testing. So that the innocent may be freed and the guilty convicted in a timely manner.
Isn't it funny how these letters always seem to come out right before a legislative session?
Regardless of the timing, though, the problem is still a real one.
Because the labs are no longer testing synthetic marijuana, I'm curious at how other counties will be filing their complaints and informations for those cases since part of the charging language asks for the chemical found in the synthetic marijuana.
I think it is a giant waste of time for DPS Labs to test every joint that is seized. One of our local sheriffs does not send in such small amounts of marij., while the DPS troopers are required to do so. The Co. Atty.'s office tells me they have the same rate of guilty pleas. If someone wants a trial, you can always send it off then. If we used some common sense we could save the state a lot of bucks.
If we used that same idea with DWI blood draws, we not only could save the lab a lot of trouble, but we might move DWI cases quicker. For example, have a standard plea offer of a $500 fine for DWI's where the D agreed to an Intoxilyzer test, and have a $1,000 fine for those who refused and the officers had to get a blood draw. When the blood draw D comes to court, offer to reduce the fine to $500 if he pleads within a mo. If he pleads early, then notify the lab. If he does not agree, and the blood test comes back showing he was intoxicated, stick with the $1,000 fine.
I haven't tried this yet, because I just thought of it.
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