Pubdate: Sun, 17 Aug 2008
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2008 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Dan Bernath


Harford County Deputy Sheriff Sean Marston's claim that the 19
marijuana plants discovered on Bob Chance's property equate to a
marijuana cigarette every two hours for four years is dubious at best
("Community in shock over Harford man's drug charges," Aug. 10).

But simple common sense should suggest that this 62-year-old former
schoolteacher and fixture in the community for 30 years does not
deserve to spend 20 years in jail and forfeit all his

Although there appears to be no evidence Mr. Chance ever intended to
sell marijuana or any other drug, he faces charges of manufacturing or
distributing the drug. Harford County State's Attorney Joseph I.
Cassilly's rationalization for this serious charge relies on
emphasizing the word "manufacturing."

More fundamentally, however, it's disingenuous for Mr. Cassilly to
assert that he has a duty to treat Mr. Chance like any other criminal.
His duty is to weigh the facts and circumstances of each and every
case and determine the best course of action under the law.

Possession of marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms is illegal, and
if Mr. Chance is guilty of those offenses, he should be punished.

But does anybody really believe justice would be served by taking
everything this man owns and putting him in jail for what could easily
be the rest of his life?

Dan Bernath


The writer is assistant director of communications for the Marijuana
Policy Project. 
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