Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Stupid Alabama Legislature Tricks

Every year in the Alabama Legislature there are a host of really stupid, idiotic and completely pointless bills. So far this year I have discovered two that really stand out. I'm sure there are many more...but let's start here.

The first one is HB147 which, would make it a crime not to have a tax stamp attached to any crack cocaine rocks you might sell.

Now, crack cocaine is illegal....100 times more illegal if you are black than if you are white and use powder cocaine. I don't think anyone selling crack rocks is going to suddenly be-bop it up to the court house and buy tax stamps to affix to the corners of their sandwich baggies.

So, what exactly is the purpose of this legislation? My guess is that it serves two nefarious purposes.

1. To make it easier for the state to seize peoples homes, cars, bank accounts and any other property that the state takes a shine to. Someone selling small amounts to support their own habit wouldn't really be making any money....but with this law every rock sold would have tax affixed to it and although the bill does not say how much each tax stamp is I would be willing to wager that it is very high. So, say a person wasn't a 'dealer' who sold vast quantities and never used any money made for anything other than to support their own habit. They never bought a house, car, didn't have a bank account processing those funds and never bought any other property with the funds. The state would still be able to seize everything they did own, even if it was gained through acceptable means, because of 'back taxes' owed on the crack cocaine they sold.

2. To make it harder for people convicted of selling crack cocaine to get their voting rights restored after they complete their sentence. One of the requirements for having ones voting rights restored is that all fines, restitution and so forth be paid in full. Adding a tax to any illicit drug makes it almost certain that voting rights will never be restored. This specifically targets the Black community since so many more black people are in prison for crack cocaine than white people. And that's just the way they want it.

Another stupid bill is HB2 which, makes selling glass tubes that could be used to smoke crack illegal.

Do they really think that drug users are so uncreative that they will suddenly stop smoking crack if glass tubes are removed from the market? Do they think that glass tubes are the only way to ingest crack cocaine? PLEASE!!! I've seen people use a coke can and cigarette ashes to smoke it. I've seen them use a straw and tin foil and a host of other things. Marijuana pipes and bongs are already against the law here....but that hasn't stopped anyone from smoking pot. A pipe can be made of an apple, toilet paper tube and tin foil, a tampon paper, a coke can with small holes punched in it...the list goes on and on. Will the legislature eventually move to outlaw every common household item that could potentially be used to ingest an illicit substance?

The legislative definition of 'drug paraphernalia" is as follows...
"(a) Definition of "drug paraphernalia". - As used in this section, the term "drug paraphernalia" means all equipment, products, and materials of any kind which are used, intended for use, or designed for use, in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance in violation of the controlled substances laws of this state.

Looks to me that under that definition they have effectively outlawed, air, water, sunshine, dirt, bat shit, Miracle Grow, sandwich baggies, kitchen scales, shovels, hoes, rakes, garden shears....man that is quite a list and is very short considering all of the things that could fit into this overly broad definition of 'drug paraphernalia'.

I can't help but wonder what they are thinking when they come up with shit like this. What it says to me is that they know they are powerless to stop drug use in the state of Alabama. In light of that, they have decided to try and pass any useless, feel-good piece of legislation that will make them look good to their constituents, even if the bill itself does NOTHING to stop illegal drug use. These kinds of bills DO, however, infringe on the rights of people who don't have anything to do with drugs. That's one of the scarier parts. People who clamor for these laws do not realize that it will affect them at some point. Sadly, that is what government has become. A weapon to be wielded against others to stop them from doing something they want to do or to force them to do something they don't want to do by threat of government force.

Will they ever realize that they cannot legislate natural human behavior, that they will not ever be able to legislate drug use out of existence, that they are wasting our time and money sitting around debating useless legislation like this?

One day, probably not in my lifetime, they will realize that drug use is a health, social and family issue and not a criminal justice one. Hopefully they will also realize all of the damage their laws have done to our once free society and to the human lives that their laws helped further destroy. I am not holding out for them ever being held accountable for their actions.



Christie said...

Of course not. They will always look to pose blame on somebody else...or some piece of fruit...or some plastic tube.

helen said...

All that money and energy could be better spent on improved access both to mental health services and dealing with the problems of addiction.

Charles said...

Amazing, isn't it? Those guys sure love to ban crap. I guess they'll go after topsoil pretty soon, as someone might use it grow the incredibly dangerous substance known as marijuana!

Jeff said...

"Don't forget to ban the fertilizer, too! Root out that E-VIL! There's a demon behind ever' door, and no one loves alky-hol more than SATAN!"

Except legislators, of course.

Or as Chris Rock says of the double standards of drug enforcement in America, "If it's all white, it's all right!"