Leniency, Please!

Slodysko, Brian. “Law Enforcement Stance on Pot Starts to Shift in Louisiana.” ProQuest.com. The Louisiana Weekly, 18 May 2015. Web. 19 July 2015.

Brian Slodysko, a thirty-two-year-old who received his degree in journalism and contained experience in writing about crimes and courts, wrote the article titled “Law Enforcement Stance on Pot Starts to Shift in Louisiana,” on May 2015. Slodysko speaks on the strict marijuana policies in Louisiana and the effect these policies hold on citizens’ prison sentences and, ultimately, their lives. He pinpoints that despite the unchanging policies, citizens seem to hold a “change of heart” when it comes to lightning marijuana charges on small possession amounts.

Recently, the state of Louisiana agrees they should lighten “sentences for people with multiple marijuana possession convictions” because they enforce too harsh of sentences on everyday citizens (par. 6). Slodysko argues that common citizens go to prison for long amounts of time simply because they possess a small amount of marijuana, which is very drastic. One could serve “up to 20 years in prison on your third arrest” for possession of marijuana (par. 2). Slodysko points this out to reiterate the harshness of Louisiana’s marijuana laws and wishes that Louisiana reconsider these laws to create a fair sentencing system for all. He also points out how ineffective these strict policies are by quoting Sen. J.P. Morrell, the response from politicians used to be “We are really tough on marijuana – and it is working,” but currently it’s, “Now we are having conversations about marijuana that were not even possible five years ago,” Slodysko knows these strict policies will evolve into  more lenient ones, with due time, and used Senator J.P. Morrell’s quote to highlight the contrast between what politicians said then compared to what they say now and he also uses an example, “Bernard W. Noble, a New Orleans father of seven, who was sentenced to over 13 years after he was arrested on his way to work for having two joints. Noble’s court battle came to an end last year after losing his last appeal,” to display the effect of these strict marijuana policies in Louisiana (par. 7,8, and 9). Using the example above, Slodysko knows that these marijuana policies got to the point that people’s lives and freedom are threatened by the mere possession of this drug and things have gotten out of hand and further goes on to compare this man’s sentence with a criminal who used drugs with bad intentions’ sentencing, which shows his point even more so this way.

There are benefits to creating more lenient marijuana policies, argues Slodysko, “The cash-strapped state – where one in 14 arrests is for marijuana possession – could also benefit, saving an estimated $23 million a year by reducing felony marijuana possession to a misdemeanor, according to Louisianans for Responsible Reform,” he presents an economic standpoint to even further back his claim that Louisiana should lower their strict laws (par. 16). Although, the citizens of Louisiana seem to want change, Slodysko states that change will not come so soon, “Measures to decriminalize marijuana, or mimic California’s permissive medical marijuana law, appear to be nonstarters,” and the harsh enforcement of marijuana laws in this state continues on (par. 18). Louisiana will be one of the last states to catch up to the decriminalization of marijuana, if that occurs, and the way Louisiana enforces their marijuana laws will continue on for a long time, Slodysko predicts.

Overall Slodysko states marijuana laws in Louisiana should consider lightening their laws to reduce citizens’ sentences, lower state costs regarding this law, and reduce the fear of losing your freedom, if caught with marijuana, within the community. I found this article useful, because Slodysko emphasized key points that I just now became aware of, such as common day citizens getting theft-level charges and the economic benefits of lightning marijuana possession charges, that pushes my personal viewpoint. Americans should not fear that they will go to jail for the rest of their lives, even if the amount of marijuana they got caught with was small, on any marijuana possession charge. Other politicians, in states with strict marijuana possession policies, would benefit from this article, because they could realize the negative effect those laws place on everyday citizens in their state and how restricting these laws are in relation to citizens’ freedoms. Instilling fear in people to get the result you want is not the way to go and should not be an option that someone uses to get what they want, this is also known as manipulation and this should not be acceptable.


– RS2 written by Ashley Bedford


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7 Responses to Leniency, Please!

  1. Evelyn

    I also believe that the punishment for small amount of marijuana possession should be lessened, because it is a waste of time and money sending people to prison just for having a little bit of marijuana. It is a waste of tax dollars and space in the prison for people who actually deserve it.

  2. acb3897

    Thanks for commenting, Evelyn! I do consider myself a bit of an “old-school” conservative when it comes to prison reform, generally. “Increase stricter laws and keep more prisoners in there, blah blah.” Actually, after doing this article, I kind of sympathize with the citizens in Louisiana who use marijuana. I don’t support marijuana, or its use, but the fact that these regulations have gone so far as to imprison common day people for a couple blunts is pretty harsh, even for me. I agree this is not a good approach with attacking marijuana usage in this area and I feel that eventually, if not already, people will retaliate and the laws must change soon. It’s really interesting how one law could affect a multitude of people! I can’t relate to users or anything like that, which in some ways sucks because I don’t want to be too one-sided, but at the same time, I am who I am and won’t compromise that for a controversy.

  3. Marisol Martinez

    I understand Louisiana is apparently strongly against the use of marijuana, but I don’t think harsh laws can keep the people away from the drug. I think it is actually a waste of money, as stated by Evelyn. Why would you want to keep a person for so long for only a small amount of marijuana? That’s is a waste of time and money, instead they could be using that money to conduct research on other more important cases such as crime.

  4. Itza

    Up to 20 years just for containing a small amount of marijuana? Yeah, definitely as Marisol and Evelyn stated a waste of time an money. These large amounts of sentences are too over exaggerated. Many of those who are sentenced for the possession of marijuana shouldn’t even be described as criminals compared to murders and rapists.

  5. Kimberly

    i liked Slodysko points and i agree. i believe that some people get incarcerated for too many years especially when the amount they were caught with was small. the government is spending too much money, (on their living expenses while they’re in jail) that could be spent on researching medicinal marijuana and its benefits.

  6. Robert

    Louisiana needs to chill. Sure I understand the fact that possession is against the law but to give someone twenty years for it after a few times. Damn! That’s inhumane in my book. Hopefully people do something to change it soon because there is a lot of money being wasted on keeping people behind bars for having a small amount of a plant. Money that can be used for bigger and better things.

  7. acb3897

    Robert: I agree! Louisiana needs to chill out when it comes to it’s marijuana laws. Sadly, this is a reality for many Americans today. Put in bars for basically the rest of their lives over a small possession charge. The money processing everything and being wasted basically, could in fact be used on research or something benefiting society and not placing minorities in jail to be incarcerated for the rest of their lives. It’s very sad, but until a decision about legalization is made, nothing will change.

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