Friday, July 6, 2007
How obsessed with marijuana is this country? Consider the details in a recent SF Chronicle article reporting on a recent study of civil penalties triggered by marijuana conducted by the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics.
“Smoke a joint in Alabama or Oregon, and you can permanently lose the right to adopt a child. Smoke one in Oklahoma, and you're ineligible ever to be a foster parent. Light up in Utah, and get a lifelong eviction notice from public housing.
“Grow a marijuana plant in any one of a dozen states, including California, and you're permanently barred from receiving welfare or food stamps.
“Those laws and others are detailed in the first nationwide study of the consequences of marijuana convictions, in areas ranging from family life to voting and jury service. Researchers headed by a Northern California lawyer said they had found a hodgepodge of state and federal restrictions that seemed to conflict with the overall trend of reduced criminal penalties for pot.”
Other findings included:
-- Possession of marijuana can result in ineligibility to become an adoptive parent in 38 states, and a lifetime ban in seven states. California is not among them.
Twenty states, though not California, allow their agencies to deny professional and occupational licenses to anyone convicted of a marijuana-related misdemeanor, regardless of whether it had any connection to the person's work.
-- Most states make people with any marijuana conviction ineligible for publicly subsidized housing for a certain period, usually at least three years. California is one of only four states with no such restriction. A separate federal law allows public housing tenants to be evicted for any drug-related activity, on or off the premises, by any resident or guest.
-- A 1998 law bars federal grants and loans to any student with a drug conviction. In addition, 28 states, though not California, withhold state financial aid from students with drug convictions, including marijuana possession.
-- In 21 states and the District of Columbia, a conviction for marijuana possession can result in a driver's license suspension for at least six months. California is not among them, but the state suspends a driver's license for up to three years for driving under the influence of drugs or committing a drug crime that involved a motor vehicle. Minors convicted of any drug crime in California lose their license for at least a year.
-- In six states, people convicted of marijuana cultivation and other felonies can be banned from voting for life. In 23 states, including California, and the District of Columbia, drug felons are barred from jury service for life.