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February 5, 2009

Should those seeking drug policy reform hope that Michael Phelps gets prosecuted?

Over at Reason, Jacob Sollum and Radley Balko are talking about whether Michael Phelps might get charged with a drug crime in the wake of the picture of his bong hit.  This final point in Balko's commentary caught my eye:

[T]he spectacle of seeing a world class athlete like Phelps frog-marched in handcuffs, tried, and given a few days in the county jail might do wonders toward enlightening the public to the fact that the most dangerous thing about marijuana doesn't come from smoking it, but from what the government will to you if it catches you.

This sentiment reminds me a bit of all the death penalty opponents who keep hoping to find conclusive evidence that an innocent defendant has been executed.  Balko thus taps into a sad but true aspect of many sentencing law and policy debates: one high-profile case is often an essential catalyst for long-urged reforms.

February 5, 2009 at 09:30 AM | Permalink


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I'm pretty sure that death penalty opponents have already found evidence of innocent defendants who have been executed: Ruben Cantu, Carlos DeLuna, Larry Griffin, etc.

Posted by: huh? | Feb 5, 2009 11:21:11 AM

It would have to be a *celebrity* death
penalty victim, though. *Stars* are *Special*.

Posted by: Leon | Feb 5, 2009 12:07:18 PM

While Michael Phelps may have disappointed his fans, it is certain that he disappointed 75% of America who would have rather seen Phelps become the poster boy for decriminalizing a HARMLESS weed. Excuse, let me correct that...a HELPFUL weed. For many, toking or eating pot is the ONLY way to relax, create, reflect and enhance appetite. Meanwhile, aspirin, alcohol, automobiles, tobacco and Coca Cola, all of which are responsible for multiple fatalities (diabetes, seizures, overdoses, cancer, car wrecks) remain easily accessible. It is SO wrong that pot continues to be miscategorized and has the power to wreck careers. Michael, we're with you. Go smoke a phatty!

Posted by: DecrimNow | Feb 7, 2009 2:33:47 PM

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