Friday, December 24, 2010

Hard Line Christian Conservative Signals Pot Penalty Changes

Christian Broadcasting Network founder, a former presidential candidate, hails from Navy town - Virginia Beach

Richmond - Pastor Pat Robertson broadcast an admonishment to authorities about the harshness of penalties for possession of marijuana.

Punitive policies directed at those who have been convicted of marijuana offenses, he said, are costly to the nation.

First criminalized in the mid-30's by federal law, the substance was classified a Schedule 1 narcotic under the terms of the federal Controlled Substances Act during the Nixon Administration.

That classification is reserved for the most dangerous and debilitating narcotics in the pharmacopeia of illicit drugs, substances such as morphine, heroin and all opium derivatives; amphetamines and methamphetamines; cocaine; barbituartes, and other sedatives.

The 80-year-old fundamentalist broadcaster, whose headquarters are located in the tidewater community of Virginia Beach, Virginia, said that the lingering effects of criminal penalties damage young people to an exaggerated degree.

A spokesman for the 700 Club ministry later told newsmen that the Reverend Mr. Robertson was not advocating legalization of marijuana, but calling for faith-based treatment for offenders so convicted.

Mr. Robertson made no follow-up statement of his own.

The economic impact on a life lived under the status of a person who has been convicted of an offense involving a Schedule 1 narcotic is profound, to say the least.

Many occupations are closed to one so convicted, security clearances are difficult if not impossible to obtain, and most landlord associations refuse to rent housing to convicted offenders.

Pre-employment and post-accident testing for the drug became a major growth industry during the Reagan years when the Commander-in-Chief first ordered a zero defect work place for active duty personnel of the Armed Forces and for civilian workers who are employed under Department of Defense contracts.

The President was the first military person to submit to the new warrantless search procedure. He gave a urine specimen in his private bathroom adjacent to the Oval Office.

The policy later extended by law to all transporation and other industrial occupations with the passage of public laws to that effect.

Warrantless search and seizure of body fluids such as blood and urine and of tissue such as hair follicles was upheld by federal appeals courts as a reasonable cause, in spite of the Fourth Amendment guarantee that no warrant of search shall be issued without first a magistrate reviewing an affidavit of probable cause.

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