Minimalize the small to focus on the large… think again. The consequences could be worse than the possession of the minimal amount of marijuana, such as 15 grams.
It is said that one does not build the roof before building the rest of the house first. You do not start with the windows; you begin with laying out the land and constructing the foundation. Starting with the small and the basic is the essence of learning anything. In the case of troubles plaguing communities in and near Chicago, where do we begin to solve issues such as poverty, the presence of powerful and invasive narcotics, guns and gangs and litter and graffiti, run-down structures that are very dangerous, and streets that need potholes repaired? Where to begin? With more police presence? With grass roots efforts, with marches, with family talks and stable households?
In the Bible, remember, Joseph did not get his start in Egypt right in the royal court of the Pharaoh. He began by doing small household tasks, by concentrating on the basics of the daily doings of the home of an official. He did not get his first offering being second-in-command in the country; he began work as a servant. Only after extreme difficulty, only after much testing and trial, did he get the calling to come to the royal court and end up preparing Egypt to endure years of famine. He did not start out wearing the fine linen and the golden chains of power and authority; he had to work, endure, and patiently wait for his calling, his chance.
What message, the news media and concerned citizens have every right to ask, will this minimalizing of possessing certain amounts of marijuana, will this statute send to those who have it? Sure you can fine them and use the money for community programs and drug or gang reduction, and leave the police to pursue those who are committing larger or more violent crimes, but the message you send is the same. You can do something small and essentially get away with it.
What happens then when you have to do something big, or get into a situation greater than those you have met with in the past? What happens when you neglect the small and the basic in favor of looking just at the larger situation or the big picture? You will find the obvious- that there are pieces missing from your tapestry, that characters are missing from your painting, that something is not in the photograph… that an important feature is not in your story or your view. You will find that you have been concentrating on the completion of the big project without looking at the smaller threads… the building blocks, the basics of what makes the project work and what will make it a success.
Simply put, you have put the wall before the bricks that make up the wall. That’s not the proper approach to making a plan work.
Having marijuana is a crime, no matter the amount, and that is how it should be. Possession is possession- of one gram or a thousand grams, of a few dollars’ worth or a few million $$$ worth. A crime is a crime- murder is still murder no matter what ‘degree’ the legal system places on it. A life is taken; a life is destroyed by violence or drug addiction or the use of drugs.
The possession of narcotics must not be made a trivial matter. When something is trivial, you can look at it literally in three ways (tri + via= three ways). Any way you look at the problem of strong drugs and illegal narcotics and the abuse of these drugs, it is drugs+ gangs+ guns and taxes+ death+ troubles. Serious troubles all around for everybody, whether directly involved by seeing the situations, knowing someone on drugs or dealing them and not saying anything to the proper authority, or indirectly involved by having to pay taxes for first responder overtime, downgrades in revenue for productive purposes, and lagging community development. Trivializing so hot and potent and troublesome an issue is sure to lead to more difficulties for everyone. Besides, if you need to get the police involved, go the distance- arrest, read the rights, take to prison and give the offenders a taste of that side of the life of crime. Otherwise you get a few hundred dollars out of someone and they can continue to use and abuse.
The 15 grams or less of marijuana the police find on someone could still be used later in an act that results in someone being shot, killed, injured in a wreck, or otherwise violently harmed in body or spirit. A fine of $100 to $500 is not likely to be missed by a dealer or a heavy user- if they want the drugs or money badly enough they will find ways to get it and replace what was confiscated. The point must then again be emphasized:
Minimalize the crime and punishment, you minimalize the sense of harm, danger, trouble-rousing, and community service and personal responsibility.