Frank A. Rubino, ESQ.

FEDERAL AND INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL DEFENSE

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Federal pot laws need imminent adjusting, Part 2

Today's post continues with a theme introduced in our immediately preceding entry, namely, that the nation's federal marijuana laws are illogical, capricious and often draconian in their application.

As a writer we introduced in our May 5 post noted therein, federal drug policy is "dissonant" and "absurd."

On the one hand, points out Mike Riggs (communications director for a national advocacy group urging sentencing reforms), some people can still be sentenced to life without parole for a marijuana-related charge, while, on the other hand, liberal views on pot in many states have decriminalized much pot-related activity or even made it legal.

For the record, notes Riggs, more than 40 percent of the defendants sentenced to life without parole in 2013 were convicted of drug offenses. That figure comes courtesy of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which also states that about 6 percent of life-without-parole inmates in federal penitentiaries are in prison for selling marijuana.

And that just doesn't make sense from any perspective, says Riggs. We lock prisoners up and throw away the key in some states, while legislators in others states enthusiastically ponder what programs and projects can best be benefited by the receipt of marijuana-derived revenues.

There is no question that the winds of reform are blowing when it comes to sentencing reform, and they are decidedly bipartisan. Riggs applauds this, yet wonders whether clemency will be offered to the high numbers of people presently locked up for lengthy terms who would receive far more lenient sentences if convicted of identical crimes today.

Most voters want change, says Riggs, which means increased leniency in many drug cases, both for newly convicted offenders and in terms of post-conviction relief afforded those who are already behind bars.

If offered, the pool of applicants for clemency would certainly take some time and effort to evaluate by officials from the U.S. Department of Justice: Reportedly, there are about 100,000 inmates serving time in federal prisons on drug charges.

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