Friday, January 29, 2010

Police Pop YouTube Pot-Smoker

David Johnson, a 44-year old man from Gretna, Nebraska, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor child abuse and possession of drug paraphernalia and marijuana after police found some 90-odd YouTube videos of Johnson smoking pot with his sons, 17 and 19. The eldest has also been cited for marijuana possession and the 17-year old has been placed in foster care. Police say they confiscated 50+ pipes and bongs from the Johnson household when they served a warrant on January 12th.

While marijuana is increasingly becoming a non-issue in the States, it is technically still illegal to smoke or possess it without a prescription. And while the Johnson family may be armchair activists who thought their YouTube videos were somehow bolstering the growing call for the legalization of marijuana, it's far more likely they are just a bunch of dumb-assed stoners.

Drugs can obviously be harmful and drug control is a serious issue which can affect entire families - even communities - but marijuana should never be considered in the same category, or "class," as drugs like cocaine, crack-cocaine, heroin, and crystal meth. More than anything, police who rigorously enforce marijuana laws are power-control freaks looking for a hand-out; keeping jails full and handing-out fines keeps their coffers full.

While removing a child from the home - especially seeing as how the "child" in question is freaking 17-years old - in this case is Draconian by anyone's standards, it's obvious that the hayseed Nebraska pigs were seeking to "send a message" and unfairly, and unjustly, victimized the Johnson family to make examples of them; this is about posting criminal behavior on social networking sites and the Web, in general, not smoking pot.

The outcome of this case is important, particularly to honest and decent Nebraskans, as this involves several gray areas of the law, including whether or not the evidence is admissible and whether or not the victims can exercise their 5th-Amendment rights (and if using the videos against them violates this right). Were it not for the physical evidence collected, the Johnson's might have been able to argue that the product they were smoking was not marijuana, and/or that they cannot be arrested "after the fact" (as there would be no evidence to back the charges - the cops wouldn't be able to prove they were smoking marijuana, nor that they ever became impaired/intoxicated).

While the Johnsons almost deserve to be charged - with "sheer stupidity," if nothing else - the bigger question is Precedent and how this case will be viewed and used in similar cases, both in, and outside of, Nebraska.

© C Harris Lynn, 2010

1 comment:

ManoDogs said...

I suppose there is an upside to the fact that today's generation can't do anything without visually documenting and sharing it with others: They don't always get away with it.