Some really cool news this week out of British Columbia: a BC Judge has decided to fully discharge a man (charges completely dropped) convicted of growing 414 marijuana plants. Why? The judge, Joanne Challenger, (who we now deeply admire) was quoted as saying that “His conduct was not dangerous or antisocial and recent polls suggest that a majority of Canadians do not believe such conduct should be the subject of criminal sanctions.”
Wait, what? WOW. Can you imagine such a thing happening in the United States? Neither can we, because it wouldn’t.
A little background information. BC resident Michael Santos recently pleaded guilty to possessing around three kilos of cannabis for trafficking. The police raided his home on Feb. 28, 2013. However, after pleading guilty, he received a shockingly sane and empathetic conviction. Judge Challenger provided the following reason for the decision:
“Given what Mr. Santos knows about the disease he is predisposed to and the effect it has had on his family, I accept that his medical use was and is sincere,” the judge said in a recent written judgment. “Even if the only benefit the use of marijuana actually provides is hope, the emotional and, in turn, physical benefits could well be medically significant.”
“His conduct was not dangerous or antisocial and recent polls suggest that a majority of Canadians do not believe such conduct should be the subject of criminal sanctions,” the judge said.
What if every judge in the United States was as intelligent and forward-thinking as this one? Hopefully this story will lead to more similar outcomes in medical marijuana cases. Instead of tethering herself to the failed policies of the past, Judge Challenger decided to do the compassionate, logical thing. This kind of rational and empathetic response is just the kind of thinking we need to begin undoing the untold damage that the American Drug War has caused on our society.
The judicial system should be designed to protect citizens, not entrap them. It’s nice to know that there are judges out there capable of this level of compassionate understanding and reasonable thinking. Hopefully we’ll see more of this in the future!