Welcome to joe the stoner's blog ~ An American Pothead from Boulder, CO


....as an American Pothead it is my right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - My life as a stoner, the liberty to enjoy my life in this fashion, and the pursuit of happiness to enjoy smoking without having the fear of Federal Agents busting the door down just for smoking a bud or having a few plants for personal, recreational, medicinal or pleasurable use.....
~ Joe the Stoner

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Justice Department Urges Equalizing Drug Sentences

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 29, 2009; 10:00 AM

Justice Department officials this morning endorsed for the first time proposed legislation that would eliminate vast sentencing disparities for possession of powdered versus rock cocaine, an inequality that civil rights groups say disproportionately has impacted poor and minority defendants.

Newly appointed Criminal Division chief Lanny A. Breuer told a Senate panel this morning that the Obama administration would support bills to equalize punishment for offenders accused of possessing the drug in either form, fulfilling one of the president's campaign pledges.

The issue has received attention from both political parties, but never before have top law enforcement officials backed legislative reforms, according to drug control analysts.

"Now is the time for us to reexamine federal cocaine sentencing policy, from the perspective of both fundamental fairness and safety," Breuer said in remarks prepared for delivery to the committee. He told lawmakers that the sentencing issues would be among those considered by a department panel that is examining a broad array of topics related to criminal justice charging, sentencing and prisoner treatment.

The announcement represents part of a broader strategy by the White House to move away from failed strategies to combat the war on drugs and to shift more money into treatment, counseling and job training. That outlook has been endorsed by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and former Seattle police chief R. Gil Kerlikowske, who awaits Senate confirmation as Obama's new drug czar.

Conflict over the cocaine possession laws, which date to 1986, has simmered for years. Even the U.S. Sentencing Commission has pushed Congress for more than a decade to address sentencing disparities.

At the heart of the debate are vastly unequal penalties for carrying cocaine in powder form as opposed to rock form, commonly known as crack. The inequality has come to be known as the "100 to 1" ratio, in which possession of five grams of crack, the weight of two small sugar cubes, triggers a mandatory five-year prison term while a person carrying 500 grams of powder cocaine would receive the same sentence.

The penalties have had far-reaching consequences, according to police chiefs, federal judges and drug control operatives.

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) noted in his prepared comments this morning that more than half of federal inmates are locked up for drug-related crimes, including high ratios of African American offenders. In 2007, Durbin said, 82 percent of people convicted on crack possession charges were black, and only 9 percent were white.

"These racial disparities profoundly undermine trust in our criminal justice system and have a deeply corrosive effect on the relationship between law enforcement and minority communities," Durbin said.

In practice, according to the advocacy group Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the sentencing disparity has a discriminatory impact on African Americans who serve sentences on average nearly two years longer than people sentenced under powder cocaine laws.

One client of FAMM is Eugenia Jennings, the mother of three children, who was convicted of trading small amounts of crack cocaine for designer clothes on two different occasions. She was charged as a career offender and sentenced to more than 20 years in prison in 2001.

Cedric Parker, Jennings's brother, was to tell the Senate panel this morning that had his sister been caught with powder cocaine, she would be preparing to return home because that offense carried far less prison time. Jennings is not scheduled for release until 2019.

"This hearing gives new hope to thousands . . . who have loved ones serving harsh sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenses," said Mary Price, vice president and general counsel at FAMM.

The origins of the tough sentences reside in the hothouse environment of the mid-1980s, when many urban communities suffered outbreaks of violence and drug use stemming from the introduction of high-quality cocaine into local drug markets. At the time, authorities believed that crack cocaine possessed unusually addictive powers, an idea that has since been dispelled, said Asa Hutchinson, former administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

"When significant numbers of African Americans on the street question the fairness of our criminal justice system, then it becomes more difficult for the officer on the street to do his or her duty under the law," Hutchinson said in his prepared remarks for the committee today.

John F. Timoney, the police chief in Miami, this morning called the current state of the drug law an "unmitigated disaster" and said he was "pleading with the Congress to right a wrong."


  1. The truth is rock crack compared to powder coke is like comparing Heroin to Vicodin its not like hash and buds where the effect is the same.
    1 gram or crack rock can be broke down and sold for 10 times as much as powder coke.
    If I get busted for a gram and a half of powder it is not worth near as much on the street. If i get the same sentence as the guy who had the same amount of rock how could that ever be fair?
    and how come the proponents ignore these facts when talking about crack rock and powder cocaine?
    This reminds me of the days LSD was weighed with the carrier substance (blotter paper,sugar cubes)
    You got in more trouble for a sugar cube with 100mics than a gram vial of liquid acid. smoking freebase cocaine is very addictive and a instant craving develops more so than powder cocaine hydrochloride maybe since the coca leaf is legal all cocaine based products should be legal too.
    Joe the Pusher

  2. Hey Joe, et al. First off, I will say that I am not a pothead. I used to be, I loved it. I still do, but I only smoke once or twice a year these days - so I don't think I qualify anymore :(

    But this post isn't about me. It's about all potheads. I think, as a plant, stoners/potheads seem to be putting marijuana on a pedestal. Most people think you need to set up a hydro pack, or a sun lab to grow it - but - there is a reason it is called 'weed' - it's a weed! It will grow in most climates - especially during the summer.

    That being said - why worry about waiting for legislation to legalize something that is so easy to grow in the wild? If pine trees were suddenly illegal - do you think the government would try to police that?

    For the past few years, I have been urging weed smokers to throw their seeds into gardens around their neighborhood. Throw your seeds in the park. Throw them in your neighbors yard. Throw them in everybody's yard. One or two of them will grow.

    Tens of millions of people smoke weed in America. How many times have you gone through your bud to have to get out the seeds? What do you do with them? Most people throw them out. Some keep them because 'one day' they are going to grow their own plants. If everyone that smoked threw out just 20 seeds per year (lets say there are just 10 million smokers), and just 1% of all the seeds germinated into plants - we would have 2 million unaccounted for weed plants growing today...in one year. There's no way they could police that. The plants wouldn't be the highest quality - but that's not what we're after. We're after legalization - we have hydro packs for quality.

    Don't wait for legislation - just change it! From now on, anyone you smoke with, anyone you buy from, anyone you sell to, tell them to throw their seeds somewhere where it will grow. Anywhere out of the way! It's that simple!

    Stop beating and pummeling about politicians. Politicians are wankers! They always will be! They know they couldn't legalize and tax weed, because as soon as they did, everybody would just grow their own plants. Billions in fines and jobs to help 'control' the marijuana 'problem' would be obsolete.

    There's no point arguing the points of how safe weed is compared to alcohol - everybody with an IQ over 40 knows that! They will argue otherwise, but they know. Stop arguing, start planting.