Today was “Batkid Day” as San Francisco turned itself into Gotham City so that Batkid — a 5-year-old boy from Northern California who’s hopefully now in permanent remission from leukemia — could defeat famous villains like the Riddler and the Penguin as well as raise money and awareness for the Children’s Make-A-Wish Foundation. Batkid got to save a number of people, got the key to the city from the mayor, and got a phone call from President Obama himself, or something. It was viral, inspiring, heartwarming, and a great example of people coming together just to be nice.
Don’t get me wrong: Batkid did not beat cancer with Rick Simpson Oil or cannabis of any kind, just standard chemotherapy and a lot of good luck. That’s not the reason I’m writing this.
What finally pushed me off my six-week stupor was the supreme irony involved in another aspect to this caper. Being a voracious reader and link-follower, I noticed a cute little press release from the Federal Department of Justice detailing a formal indictment of said Riddler and Penguin, on the letterhead of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California. That personage, in person, is one Melinda Haag, someone whose name should be familiar to every cannabis-oriented person in California, because she’s the one who’s been aggressively prosecuting and enforcing the Federal cannabis laws. She’s the one who’s been making patients suffer by getting dispensaries shut down left and right for years. Therefore, this is the first indication I’ve seen that she might be an actual human being.
I’m going to get pretend-serious here for a reason. If the news reports are true, the Riddler and Penguin might be charged with crimes like:
- possession of a destructive device in furtherance of a felony
- bank robbery
- terroristic threats
Each of these offenses are separately punishable by a prison sentence of 20 years to life, far more than the “no less than 24 years” that Haag claimed in the actual indictment (PDF) charging them formally only with conspiracy and kidnapping.
I’m not claiming that Haag is “soft on super-villains”. No.
But just a few months ago, this same person was threatening innocent people in real life with 40-year sentences in Federal prison as well as legalized theft of their property (“civil forfeiture”) for simply renting their property to professional florists.
Well, she probably calls those florists “illegal distributors of dangerous controlled substances” in her court filings, and that’s just as ingenuous. But this really is all just about a plant and its flowers, so maybe the more we use that kind of terminology, the more people will see how stupid all this prohibition is.
But the “best” part of all this is that Melinda Haag herself has allegedly “gone rogue” and is not obeying the policy decisions of her own higher-ups in the Justice Department. It’s bad enough that people like this even have a racist Federal law (I’m talking about the one that makes cannabis illegal, of course) to fall back on and claim “I’m just following the rules of law”. But what happens to those selfsame custodians of the law when they don’t follow the rules themselves?
Other people suffer, that’s what. People like you and me.