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While researching backstory on the marijuana law loss in the last election in Florida I ran across an ugly provision in Florida's legal code that is probably little-known (unless you've been bit by it, of course.)

I was unaware of it even though I've lived here for some 15 years.

There is a very nasty little section of law when it comes to simple possession of small amounts (under 20 grams) of cannabis (marijuana) -- a nominal misdemeanor -- and it's not in the referenced section on drug offenses!

Oh no, this little ugly is in 322.055 (driver licenses), which you have to dig around to find.

322.055 Revocation or suspension of, or delay of eligibility for, driver license for persons 18 years of age or older convicted of certain drug offenses.—
(1) Notwithstanding s. 322.28, upon the conviction of a person 18 years of age or older for possession or sale of, trafficking in, or conspiracy to possess, sell, or traffic in a controlled substance, the court shall direct the department to revoke the driver license or driving privilege of the person. The period of such revocation shall be 1 year or until the person is evaluated for and, if deemed necessary by the evaluating agency, completes a drug treatment and rehabilitation program approved or regulated by the Department of Children and Families. However, the court may, in its sound discretion, direct the department to issue a license for driving privilege restricted to business or employment purposes only, as defined by s. 322.271, if the person is otherwise qualified for such a license. A driver whose license or driving privilege has been suspended or revoked under this section or s. 322.056 may, upon the expiration of 6 months, petition the department for restoration of the driving privilege on a restricted or unrestricted basis depending on length of suspension or revocation. In no case shall a restricted license be available until 6 months of the suspension or revocation period has expired.

Note that there is no requirement that the offense have anything to do with driving and the suspension is mandatory.

In other words if you get caught smoking pot in Florida you are ****ed in terms of being able to obtain or hold a job.

(This period was 2 years until it was apparently changed in the 2014 legislative session; the 2013 section of this law specified a 2 year penalty.)

I can understand suspending a driver license if the essence of the charge is that you were driving while stoned.  That's the same penalty associated with driving while drunk, and while in the general sense it offends my sensibilities to set arbitrary limits (rather than testing actual driving ability) there is a fairly-clear public interest issue in keeping drunk (or drugged) drivers off the streets provided they are actually impaired and unable to safely operate a vehicle.

But this sort of penalty associated with a straight low-level marijuana possession charge is particularly obscene because of what it does to a person's future.

First, such a suspension automatically puts you in the "high risk" insurance pool, where your rates will more than double instantly.  If you can't pay then you're subject to getting hammered for driving without insurance, a further offense (and one that shouldn't be an offense at all until and unless you cause an accident and cannot pay!)

Second, driving on a suspended license carries a three-tier series of penalties with the third and subsequent convictions, ever during one's lifetime, being a felony.

There will be those who argue that a "restricted license" resolves this problem and Florida allows the issue of one after six months.  Uh, no.  A restricted license only helps if you have a pre-existing job -- if you're seeking employment it does nothing for you since that use of a car is considered "discretionary" and thus would not fall under the permitted restricted uses.

People have been busted and jailed for stopping at a drive-through for coffee on their way to or from work, a perfectly-arguable work-related purpose and without material diversion from their work-related path, while on a restricted license!

Such a restricted license also makes impossible a search for a new apartment (say, one closer to your job) since you can't (legally) drive there, nor can you move your stuff into the new place using your car.  It prohibits going to the grocery store, doctor or other ordinary and necessary trips for a routine (and law-abiding) life.

If one cannot earn a living and have a routine life utilizing perfectly-legitimate and law-abiding means what does this leave that person with as an option?

Unlawful means such as dealing drugs or theft of various sorts.

Yeah, I get it that in most major metro areas (e.g. Chicago) having a car isn't necessary and in fact is an (expensive) hassle.  I spent a couple of years working for other people, living in the city, where my car essentially never left my garage for other than a recreational (e.g. vacation) purpose.  But this clearly doesn't work in non-urban areas; if you live in a suburb or rural area and cannot legally operate a motor vehicle you are basically screwed in terms of economic opportunity.

Is this what we want to promote as a society?  Taking someone who chooses to smoke pot and gets caught out of the productive workforce forever by, with a high degree of certainty, turning them into a felon?

I understand the sentiment that will be expressed by many -- you did the crime, now do the time.  Ok, I'm on board with that provided the punishment has some cogent nexus to the offense.

This law fails that test in that it facially appears to be intended to do exactly one thing: Create more criminals, specifically, create felons who can no longer find and maintain productive employment out of low-level misdemeanor offenders with a reasonably high degree of certainty.

If you're interested in how this came to be, give thanks to the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) who died last year -- he apparently tucked this little piece of **** into a highway funding bill in 1992.  May that rat bastard burn in Hell for this electioneering-inspired stunt.

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If there's something that raises my blood pressure to the point of being willing to contemplate violence it's abuse of kids -- particularly when that abuse is legal and thus going after the person involved with the cops is not an option.

Caution: This is disturbing stuff.

To Laci Green, the author of this piece: You got the right idea but the wrong venue.

Not only are "Whitehouse.gov" petitions unlikely to do anything in the case of proposing laws they're flat-out worthless because under the Constitution laws don't begin in the White House.

Presidents sign laws.  They don't (that is, can't) initiate them in the form of a bill.  That has to come from Congress, and anything with funding associated with it (and most laws do have a funding angle to them, even if it's tangential) must originate in the House of Representatives.

So the correct place to aim your ire as it applies to minors is at your US Representative.  You can find his or her name and contact information here; your district number is on your voter registration card or, if you don't have one, you can put your zip code in at the top of that page.

Adults have the right to engage in whatever sort of activity they wish, so long as they hurt nobody but themselves.  So if an adult wishes to engage in this sort of quackish "therapy" they're free to do it -- even though in my opinion it's flat-out stupid and self-destructive.

However, nobody has the right to subject a minor to what, without much examination, is quite-clearly abuse bordering on torture.

And yeah, if this is legal (I wouldn't think it is, but apparently that's so) that needs to be changed.

Now.

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This is being marked as "sad"; it's nothing of the sort.  It is in fact an outrage.

DANBY, NY — A family has been left homeless after law enforcement agencies destroyed their entire house in the process of serving a warrant for a man for driving while intoxicated.

The home of David and Melissa Cady was condemned after armored police vehicles plowed through several walls while attempting to get 36-year-old Mr. Cady to surrender. A bench warrant had been issued after Mr. Cady missed a court appearance August 26, 2014, regarding his DWI conviction. On December 30th, 2014, a SWAT team moved in to make the arrest.

So a bench warrant issues in August.  Four months later, having intentionally and negligently refused to perform basic police work (like staking out his house and arresting him when he leaves to go to the store) the cops instead surround his house with military weaponry and tactics.

The accused shoots himself in response.  Perhaps he was drunk, perhaps despondent, who knows.  It doesn't matter at that point since he's decided to take his own life. But then the cops, having zero evidence that he was firing on them, and further, being unable to communicate with the now self-created corpse, destroy the joint property of his family.

Under exactly what rubric does the abject laziness and incompetence of this agency give rise to justification for that act?

Further, as I have repeatedly pointed out you can only punish someone for murder once; all remaining killings are "free" of the ability to impose sanction.  If the person in question has decided to take their own life any others he decides to take with him come with no additional cost.  This sort of so-called police action encourages anyone who would be inclined to take their own life to shoot as many others as possible, including officers, first since said cops have demonstrated prior intent to destroy everything possessed by not only the accused but also all that those who love him or her might possess.

I have no quarrel with using SWAT teams and similar in a situation where hostages are being held and there is an obvious and clear threat to their lives and safety.  But that was not the case here; the wife and kids walked out of the house unmolested when requested.  Further, no shots were fired at the cops and finally, and probably most-importantly, this bench warrant had been out for four months which gave the cops plenty of time to come stick an unmarked car near the house and arrest this guy peacefully for his offense.

There is no redress available in the courts for a death; money does not compensate for lost life.  There is redress available for destruction of property but the problem with suing an agency like this is that the officers who make these decisions are never held personally responsible -- so in fact you are basically suing yourself, since you as a taxpayer will wind up being the one who pays if you win.

THIS MUST CHANGE AND WE MUST STOP TOLERATING LAZY JACKASS AGENCIES THAT SIT ON A WARRANT FOR FOUR MONTHS KNOWING FULL WELL WHERE THE ACCUSED LIVES INSTEAD OF SIMPLY STICKING AN UNMARKED CAR ON THE HOUSE AND PEACEFULLY ARRESTING THE WANTED MAN WHEN HE LEAVES TO GET A SIX PACK OF BEER!  THIS CRAP WAS CLEARLY ILLUSTRATED IN WACO AND SHOULD HAVE ENDED THERE WITH CRIMINAL INDICTMENTS AGAINST THOSE WHO ORDERED AND GAVE A GREEN LIGHT TO THE RAID, INCLUDING JANET RENO.

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