Demon Weed Update. While arguments can be made that marijuana presents no more danger to the public weal than alcohol, and is far less harmful than legal substances like tobacco, there is no question that it ranks far below other drugs, like crack, cocaine, heroin, PCP, etc. on the risk scale. One would anticipate that, in a rational world, the $40 billion or so we spend on the War on Drugs would be devoted to the investigation and prosecution of those selling and using those more harmful drugs.
Doesn't quite turn out that way: According to FBI figures for 2008, of the 1.7 million arrests for drug offenses, 49.8% were for marijuana. Well, at least we're going after the dealers and not the users, right? Wrong. Eighty-two percent of those arrests were for possession, and 44.3% of the total arrests were for possession of marijuana -- more than twice as many as for cocaine and heroin combined.
That's not recent. According to this article from back in 2005, marijuana arrests rose from 28% of the total to 45% between 1992 and 2005.
And this article from New York Magazine gives some idea why that is:
Harry Levine, a Queens College sociology professor who has been compiling marijuana arrest figures for years, says, “The cops prefer pot busts. They’re easy, because the people are almost never violent and, as opposed to drunks, hardly ever throw up in the car. Some of this has to do with the reduction in crime over the years. Pot arrests are great for keeping the quota numbers up.”
Surfing the blogs. This week's new addition to the blogroll is Alexandra Natapoff's Snitching Blog, which covers exactly what you might think. A post from a couple weeks back highlights the new ABA opinion on a prosecutor's duty to disclose information, which requires prosecutors to "make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information known to the prosecutor that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense." Note the distinction between "information" and "evidence"; the opinion's authors note that it is more demanding than Brady and other cases require.... From Concurring Opinions comes this article from the NY Times on the perils that Facebook, Twitter, and other web services pose for indiscreet lawyers... How Appealing tells us that the Alabama Supreme Court has upheld a state statute banning the sale of sex toys... Balkinization has an interesting article for beleaguered Cleveland Browns fans (but I repeat myself): a take on who the ideal juror would be for Ben Roethlisberger in his defense of the civil sexual assault filed against him...
And I thought some of my slip-and-fall cases were bad. From Chicago Now:
A woman sued Sears today for injuries she alleges occurred when she slipped and fell on vomit while in the television department.
According to the complaint, on July 11, 2009, plaintiff Glinda Bridgeman was a customer at the Sears Department Store on West 95th Street when she slipped and fell "due to vomit and paper towels that were placed on the floor by an authorized agent and employee of defendant."