Criminal Law Commentary: It is time to decriminalize marijuana in Iowa.
It is time to decriminalize marijuana in
There are many more states that allow possession of marijuana when prescribed by a doctor. Many medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the
This year, a law allowing a doctor to prescribe medical marijuana to her patients was proposed in the Iowa legislature. Such a law is a separate issue from decriminalization, but it is the right thing to do. Research has shown that patients suffering from a wide array of illnesses benefit from medical marijuana. For example, persons suffering from neuropathic pain, nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, movement disorders, dementia and AIDS benefit from marijuana. Additional research is showing that marijuana may also prevent certain types of malignant tumors. But yesterday the
Even people sitting as jurors on cases of marijuana possession are expressing their views in the most democratic of ways. I have seen acquittals in these cases when there is little doubt that a person possessed a small amount of marijuana. There are often many reasons why someone might vote to acquit. Some people don’t like police officers digging around in trash to find a discarded marijuana seed, then obtain a search warrant to forcibly enter a home, with guns drawn, and cuff everyone in the house, only to seize a small amount of marijuana. I have seen officers disassemble cars on the street to seize $2 worth of marijuana. Videos of interrogations show officers screaming and yelling at teenagers to “confess.” Sometimes its honorable citizens in the comforts of their own home with friends that are treated like armed killers.
Some people decide to plead guilty in these cases because they don’t want to spend money on a lawyer or take time away from work. Some people plead guilty because their lawyer isn’t very good. Some people plead guilty even when they are innocent. Our
I practice “criminal” law. I’ve represented persons charged with the most serious of crimes including murder and kidnapping down to traffic violations. In almost all cases I charge the same hourly rate regardless of the charge. But as time passes I have now decided to change how I charge my clients in simple possession of marijuana cases. I am no longer charging an hourly rate. I can’t in good conscience do so. I empathize with my clients. When someone is facing a criminal charge, the attorney has to put in a great deal of time to investigate the case, request production of documents and videos, attend the preliminary hearing, the arraignment, depositions, pretrial conferences, hearings on motions, and the trial. Anyone who takes their case to trial is facing thousands of dollars in legal fees and expenses. While not doing these for free, I am greatly reducing my fees for my clients charged with possession of marijuana. I don’t want my clients to plead guilty because they can’t afford to fight.
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