Dear Ann Landers, I just got a phone call from my son. He said, "I've been arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute." I knew he had used marijuana on occasion, but I'm sure he never tried to sell it. A lawyer told me if someone is caught with marijuana, chances are the police will add "intent to distribute," even in the absence of supporting evidence. The accusation of intent changes the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Ann, my son is a good kid who attends college and has a part-time job. He didn't hurt anyone. He didn't steal anything. He didn't cheat anybody. He was caught with marijuana for his own personal use, and for this, he could get 30 years in prison.
He has never gotten so much as a parking ticket.
I don't approve of smoking grass, nor do I approve of smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. But this punishment seems excessive. I can't help but think of the thousands of families who have suffered this same horror. These harsh laws hurt us all. People who criminalize marijuana believe users are dangerous addicts in dark trench coats, lurking near playgrounds, ready to pounce on young children.
I plead for compassion for those who are hurting only themselves when they use dangerous substances. What they need is counseling and medical intervention, not prison. Harsh laws don't work. Furthermore, it costs us a fortune in taxes to prosecute and incarcerate people who pose no danger to society. Enough. -- A Sad Mother in Va.
Dear Sad Mother, I'm sad about your son's predicament. If the police added "intent to distribute" without real evidence, your son will need the help of a competent lawyer who can get those charges dismissed.
I have long believed the laws regarding marijuana are too harsh. Those who keep pot for their own personal use should not be treated as criminals. Thirty years in prison makes no sense whatsoever. I'm with you.
Hi! It's Margo here. I'd love to know what you think of the letters -- and the answers!
Also, any additional thoughts you might have. Thanks!
Regardless of people's opinions, marijuana is still illegal. I don't care how good of a boy your son is, he broke the law.
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Our Reader to Reader Question of the Week:
Dear Readers, , My x-girlfriend who lived with my son and I for 16 years died of cancer. Prior before we knew she had cancer-she moved out because of an addiction problem. We did stay very close before she died. Her x-husband an attorney took over her finances and the burial arrangements. I being financially set was okay with that, whatever they needed I provided. What really hurt my son and I the most was the obituary - we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son-who loved her also. I never been so upset. Her x-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary, who my girlfriend barely knew. They live an hour away from us. I know its silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation, its not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice.