Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com
Per Howie Fischer:
He admits the plan is a political longshot.
But Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix, hopes to convince colleagues to approve legalizing marijuana for recreational use by adults, if for no other reason than the alternative is having voters adopt their own plan. And if that happens, that locks lawmakers out of the process entirely.
His legislation, HB 2007, would make it legal for those 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of the drug…
…What might fare better is Cardenas’ backup plan: HB 2006 would decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, imposing a civil penalty of no more than $100.
Now, possession of any amount is a felony, meaning more than a year in state prison.
But these are usually handled as misdemeanors. And a 1996 voter-approved law generally precludes incarceration for first and second offenses.
“I’m willing to look at that,” Farnsworth said. But he said any decision whether to even grant that a hearing depends on whether police and prosecutors believe such a change will impair their anti-drug efforts.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, a big anti-pot crusader, told Fischer that he opposed any effort to loosen the ban on MJ and waved away the possibility of criminal penalties under existing state law.
“Given that no one faces a felony sanction unless or until their criminal history calls for it, this is another solution looking for a problem,” Montgomery said.
That’s actually not true, as Ray Stern of the Phoenix New Times noted on Facebook: “In fact, Bill’s prosecuting an 18 y.o. college student for felony marijuana possession of one-third of a gram of marijuana, and he should know it because I’ve asked him about that case. The student has no criminal history that causes him to face this felony sanction — the student simply did not take the deferred prosecution terms that Bill’s office offered him in order to forego felony prosecution. He didn’t take the deferred prosecution because he believe he shouldn’t be prosecuted at all, and Bill’s answer to that is to continue to press felony charges. So, Bill, do you know what you said here isn’t true?”
Montgomery’s double-speak on the criminality of pot possession in Arizona is simply another illustration of how the anti-pot crusade is basically an anti-choice movement. When Montgomery is on TV arguing against legal marijuana, medicinal or recreational, he reminds me very much of Rick Santorum railing against the evils of birth control. In both cases, someone (and we’re talking the wrong kind of someone) might be having a good time and, of course, authoritarians of all stripes (many of which overlap) become unglued at that prospect. Their imaginations are sent into this big, hot, teeming swirl of sluts and hippies and minorities doing very bad things to bring about the downfall of virtue and order!
Montgomery is behaving exactly the way that anti-abortion/contraception activists do when he insists that “no one” faces a felony under Arizona’s pot ban. He is pitching his rhetoric straight at the kind of people, i.e. white and affluent, who truly don’t have a fear in the world of being railroaded into a felony charge for having a joint or two in their possession. But the reality is that marijuana criminalization often leads to stiff charges and long sentences for people who don’t possess the privileges and resources to avoid them. Similarly, anti-abortion/contraception activists pretend that their favored policies will “save babies” and “protect women” but get very testy and evasive when asked about how they might lead to prosecutions of women.
Yet anti-choice activism has inevitably led to prosecutions of women for bad pregnancy outcomes and to never-ending attempts to restrict contraception. Again, none of which is likely to discomfort rich white people in any meaningful way. That’s the key thing about these right wing authoritarian incursions on people’s rights and *gasp* possibility of having fun. Pleasure is strictly for Our Betters™. It leaves me amazed that Prohibition was ever ended. Booze must have some pull upon rich white men that nothing else, including sex, does.