To the editor:
If it is decided that the Lawrence Municipal Court will handle all marijuana possession cases, there will be slight benefits: no more mandatory $400 lab fees and retaining of eligibility to obtain federal aid to attend college.
However, the new policy will not change the fact that a second conviction is a felony in Kansas. Under the new policy, the number of people charged with marijuana possession is unlikely to decrease, while conviction rates are likely to increase (due to the defendants more easily waiving their right to legal representation and a more streamlined process).
A felony is defined as a major crime punishable by imprisonment in a penitentiary. Pretending that marijuana is a major crime when little harm occurs to the adult user is a delusion that should be ended. During prohibition we learned the "war" on alcohol was unwise and unworkable. Acknowledging prohibition was a failed experiment; we ended it.
Commissioner Amyx states that he would never consider lessening penalties for marijuana use as "we carry out laws ... it is not something where you pass a law and then just wink at it." However, we do just that every day. Adultery (wink), gambling, such as NCAA basketball pools (wink, wink), are just two of the laws that are unenforced and basically unenforceable.
Likewise, we should either decriminalize or not enforce laws that criminalize adult marijuana usage. Only then would we have real and not simply cosmetic policy changes, so more of our otherwise law-abiding citizenry would not face imprisonment for using the wrong drug (not produced by pharmaceutical companies).