Big marijuana bust in Iowa – Mayor found growing pot!

As the Des Moines Register reported yesterday, the Mayor of Jamaica, Iowa and her husband were busted two days earlier at about 4:20 p.m. (no joke) for growing 18 marijuana plants inside their home.   The various related charges include a Class “D” Felony for the manufacture and possession with intent to deliver less than 50 kilograms of marijuana.

It’s a shame that our laws in Iowa still make it a crime to do something that is peaceful, voluntary, and uses no force or fraud against others. Marijuana prohibition laws do little to make our state safer, and yet do great harm to people who are victimized by them.  In this case, if these two people are found guilty of the felony, they could be sentenced for up to 5 years in prison, be required to pay up to $7,500, lose their voting rights, be disqualified for military service or student loans, and more.  Compare that to the fact that nothing happens to a person in her home who is found to be brewing 5 gallons of beer – a standard home-brew batch – and possessing, say, 10 to 20 more gallons that were brewed earlier.

Marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol, and yet today we see the same unintended consequences resulting from drug prohibition that we saw from alcohol prohibition in the 1920s and early 1930s: violence, deaths from impure products, and the arrest and punishment of people who are otherwise honest and peaceful.  Make no mistake, the violence associated with the illegal drug trade is caused by prohibition laws.  If Walgreens moves into a community, CVS doesn’t send out a gang to kill them.  When drugs are delivered to a pharmacy, both parties don’t carry weapons to protect themselves.  Instead, they call the police if someone uses violence against them.  But you can’t can’t call the police for help if you’re dealing in illegal drugs.

We need to follow the trend in other states and around the world:  Legalize recreational marijuana and treat addiction using a medical model, just like alcohol.  Let your elected representatives know your feelings.  That is the way to get these unjust laws changed.

Link to Register article: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2019/01/17/jamaica-mayor-ladonna-kennedy-pot-weed-gurthrie-county-crime-marijuana-search-ames-shooting-suspect/2606455002/

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Highway message signs – a waste of taxpayer money and unsafe!

Why do we have Iowa Department of Transportation employees taking their expensive time trying to come up with entertaining “quips” for the 74 message signs on our interstate highways.  (See link below to Des Moines Register article, 10/6/2015 “Life-saving messages fuel roadside quips”) There has been much talk in the Iowa Legislature about whether or not we should have laws or regulations to reduce driving while distracted.  And yet, ironically, our own Iowa DOT has created a significant distraction.  I have not yet once seen a message on the signs on I-235 that would actually help reduce accidents or improve safety.  It may be nice, but it surely is not necessary to know how many minutes it takes to get to downtown or the west side.  We might save money and lives if we just take them down.

 

LInk to Register article: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/local/kyle-munson/2015/10/05/iowa-department-of-transportation-digital-message-sign-humor-zero-fatalities/73231720/

A secret grand jury is not appropriate for police shootings.

Today, the Des Moines Register reported on the decision by the grand jury in Polk County to not indict the Des Moines police officer who shot an unarmed man.  (8/27/2015 – “No charges against D.M.  officer” – see link below)  You reported that the prosecutor, Polk County Attorney John Sarcone, said, “This was the eighth fatal police shooting reviewed by a Polk County grand jury since 2007, all of which ended with jurors choosing not to indict.”
Since the grand jury process is highly secret, we don’t know what facts or arguments were presented to the grand jury.  With what we do know, it is hard to imagine that there should be no charges whatsoever brought against the officer.

The prosecutor and the police depend on having a trusting and friendly relationship.  Because of this relationship, the prosecutor clearly has conflict of interest .  The prosecutor could quite easily have a significant bias towards not indicting police officers.  Actually, that is why we have the grand jury system – to have the decision whether or not to indict be made by unbiased citizens.  But the system is flawed.  The entire process is secret, and is led by the prosecutor.  It is not difficult to imagine that the prosecutor could exert significant influence on the grand jury to not indict, and then be off the hook politically because he did not make the decision.  Did that happen in this case?  We will never know because of the secrecy of the process.

We should either make the process public and transparent, or get rid of the grand jury system for police shootings.