The Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans tackled a hot topic Monday night with a panel of experts discussing Marijuana Sentencing Reform.
The panel consisted of a diverse group including: John Malcolm of The Heritage Foundation, Molly Gill of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), and Senator Chris Shank (R-MD) of Network for Justice Fellowship.
Gill opened up the discussion by validating the concerns many people have, “Drugs are a real societal problem. The question is, are we handling this in the best way possible? The solution to everything is not prison.”
“An estimated $106 million is spent on the war on drugs on the police level in Maryland. From 2001-2010 the incarceration rates have increased by 34%,” explained Sen. Shank referencing a study from Maryland legislators last year outlining the astounding incarceration rates, “We need to find smart solutions for dealing with these problems and get past the traditional merit of being hard vs. soft on crime so we can focus on being smart on crime.”
Congress has usurped the power of judges, and sentencing reform will return the power back to the states and to the judges. Right now a judge has limited control over his rulings because of the Mandatory Minimum laws that are in place.
Reforming these laws does not equate to legalizing drugs, rather putting the power back where it belongs. Under the reforms a judge would still have the right to put someone in jail for 10 years, but they would also have the right to use their own discretion to determine what is best in for each situation.
As Malcolm said, “The feds don’t have to do everything. There is a division of power for a reason, and historically it’s the state that has the power to handle crime… This is a symptom of the pendulum having swung too far, and we need to return power to the states.”
The real problem is Congress overstepping its boundaries yet again and taking power away from the states and local judges, the people who are members of these communities and have all the facts in a case.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue, it’s a discussion that needs to be had and I am proud that young conservatives are the ones leading the way!