03 Mar 2011

Mitch Daniels' Rank Hypocrisy over Pot Conviction Punishment

An interesting post on over at Reason talks about how Mitch Daniels got a ridiculously sweet deal when he was caught with weed in college, but has been pushing much harsher punishment for people who do the same thing now.

Although Daniels was caught with enough marijuana to trigger a prison sentence, he got off with a $350 fine. Yet he has advocated “jail time” for “casual users”—a stark illustration of the schizophrenic attitudes that help perpetuate drug policies widely recognized as unjust.

According to the Princetonian, “officers found enough marijuana in [Daniels’] room to fill two size 12 shoe boxes.” Under current New Jersey law, possessing more than 50 grams (about 1.8 ounces) of marijuana is a felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison. Given the amount of pot Daniels had, he easily could have been charged with intent to distribute, which under current law triggers a penalty of three to five years.

At the time of Daniels’ arrest in May 1970, New Jersey’s marijuana penalties were even more severe. Six months after his arrest, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided a case involving an 18-year-old who received a sentence of two to three years in prison after police found a pot pipe and part of a joint in his house.

Two SHOE BOXES?!? And he got off with a FINE? Wow…

I wonder if this will even matter in the GOP primary.

Read more at Reason »

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0 thoughts on “Mitch Daniels' Rank Hypocrisy over Pot Conviction Punishment”

  1. So because Daniels once had two shoeboxes of pot, he forfeits the right to change his mind about drug-related issues and feel differently about drug possession 30 or 40 years later? That doesn’t follow. Although I think harsher punishment for casual users would be an already-crowded prison-clogging disaster.

    I like Reason magazine a lot, and would like to see pot legalized for responsible personal use. But Daniels isn’t the first person to use lots of drugs when he was young and then come to feel that it was a mistake that he’d like to protect others from. You know, like virtually every parent who once bogarted a joint.

    Now, if Daniels had been caught with a couple pounds of herb a year or two ago, I’d feel differently about the alleged hypocrisy. Consistency is the hobgoblin of foolish minds. People change their minds. Sometimes as a matter of convenience in the case of politicians. But not always. the 1970s was a long time ago.

  2. Cranky —

    Solomon’s exactly right on this. Mitch Daniels’ abject *intellectual dishonesty* regarding his own arrest and subsequent “justice” that was served is NOT an absolution from what clearly amounts to hypocrisy.

    It wasn’t as if he had a felony conviction and did jail time with violent criminals to set him straight — which is how he wanted US law enforcement to treat drug offenders for possession.

    Daniels didn’t changed his mind on drugs, he just quietly ignores the favorable treatment he got as an Ivy League student and a legal system that arbitrarily declined to penalize him which would have subsequently destroyed his academic and future political life.

    He also didn’t say “I SHOULD have gone to jail and been stripped of my voting and firearms rights for my drug crimes, like I want to see happen to all those busted for drugs”. Had he said that, he would’ve been consistent, if crassly convenient.

    Your argument for chronological mitigation isn’t sound, since presumably Daniels could reasonably “change his mind” during any time interval between being arrested and wishing that others be punished for the same crimes that he wasn’t:

    Friday: Daniels is arrested for pot, let off with a slap on the wrist.

    Saturday: Daniels has epiphany about drug use and the law.

    Sunday: Daniels wants to imprison people for pot.

    There’s nothing magically less hypocritical about this sequence just because it was spaced over a longer period of time.

    The only thing it does is allow Daniels to weasel out of personal responsibility by blaming the the 1970s.

    You know, how unfortunate that he got caught up in the LIBERTINE APOGEE.

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