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December 16, 2012

EDITORIAL: Toke ’em if ya got ’em?

By now, you’ve probably seen the images of exultant Washington state residents lighting up marijuana cigarettes and pipes at midnight Dec. 6 when a new state law went into effect that decriminalizes possession of up to an ounce of pot by those 21 and older. (That amount, just less than 30 grams, is enough for 30 to 90 joints, we’re told.)

And in Colorado, possessing up to an ounce of pot (or six plants) also is now legal. Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday quietly declared approval of a change to the state constitution that was approved by voters in November. The Guv tweeted the news from Denver, the appropriately nicknamed Mile High City, apparently wanting to avoid a repeat of the Washington state scene from four days earlier when tokers gathered at the foot of the Space Needle in Seattle to inhale their new freedom.

Fewer than two dozen people puffed pot on the steps of Colorado’s state Capitol, the Associated Press reported, at 4:20 p.m. Monday — a time picked because 420 is stoners’ code for consuming pot.

Even though public marijuana use violates both states’ laws, cops in both locations were mellow about it, and just weren’t motivated to make arrests at those pot parties.

Despite what the brouhaha might at first suggest, neither state’s actions come close to legalizing all marijuana use. That remains a pipe dream.

Selling grass is still illegal in Washington state and Colorado, and the U.S. Justice Department still says that federal prohibitions on possession, growth and use of marijuana remain in force and that federal law still trumps state law.

Which means pot users in Washington state and Colorado may still be prosecuted on federal charges.

Also still ahead for Washington and Colorado: state licensing of marijuana growers, processors and retailers, and the application of 25-percent taxes at each of those stages. In both states, that tax revenue will produce millions for state coffers to fund such areas as education, social services and pensions.

But what for Indiana?

A Ball State study released Thursday reports that 53 percent of Hoosiers (69 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds) favor some decriminalization of pot. Many baby boomers who either smoked marijuana or at least experienced contact highs while of college age, look favorably on relatively free use of the drug, even though is it said to be more potent now than back in the day. And it may well be that what we call responsible marijuana use, akin to responsible drinking, is quietly accepted more and more these days in our communities. It also may well be that decriminalization of pot is in Indiana’s future — and that free use of marijuana would not, in the greater scheme of things, do great damage to our society.

But rather than legalizing any amount of pot now, we prefer to see how an alternative approach might work for Indiana — that of reducing sentences for possession of 10 grams or less of pot. That is part of the General Assembly’s Criminal Code Evaluation Committee’s work that is designed to better match jail sentences with seriousness of crime. As conservative Republican state Rep. Heath VanNatter told CNHI statehouse reporter Maureen Hayden early this month, “We need to be spending our prison dollars more efectively than putting people away for minor violations like some kid caught with a joint in his pocket.”

That stance makes great sense. Let’s see how that approach would serve Indiana, while also keeping close watch on the decriminalizations in Washington state and Colorado.

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Editorials
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    It comes as encouraging news that the Vigo County Council might include in its 2015 budget significant funding for an expert and neutral study of what can be done to replace or enhance the existing county jail.

    July 20, 2014

  • tstribunestar Editorial: Continuing the standard

    U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett has raised the profile of his federally appointed position more than any individual to hold the job in decades. From the start, he was a man on a mission, and often that mission was focused on rooting out corruption, maintaining integrity in government and pursuing those who violated the public trust.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

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    An eager and probably nervous couple stands before a minister or a judge or a county clerk and exchanges vows, accepting the legal, moral and ethical obligations of a marriage.

    July 13, 2014

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  • Editorial: The Bennett ‘settlement’

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    July 10, 2014

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  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Be safe, be responsible

    The Independence Day weekend brought a brief respite in construction work on area roadways. In particular, it provided needed relief to the congested segment of Interstate 70 in Clay County that is undergoing resurfacing this summer.

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    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Celebrate your independence

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
    As eloquent and declaratory as that statement is, implementing its principles has been a decades-long pursuit for these United States of America. Our nation, it seems, is the quintessential work in progress, even though what this country has created in terms of a stable, collective society is, let’s face it, pretty darn good.

    July 3, 2014

  • Editorial: Texting law serves safety

    July 1 each year marks the day in Indiana when new laws take effect. But rather than focus on new laws today, let’s observe the anniversary of a law that went on the books three years ago this month — the law that barred texting while driving.

    July 1, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: For kids, an immediate need

    If you agree that not much is sadder — and potentially more unsettling to our society — than a child torn from his or her home, here is a way you can make a difference, one kid at a time.

    June 28, 2014

  • Editorial: A center for the future

    The Monday morning “groundbreaking” at the site of the new Vigo Schools Aquatic Center in Voorhees Park was largely ceremonial. It will still be a few weeks before work on the $9.8 million facility actually begins. But that didn’t stop the highly anticipated event from taking place, and it was clear from remarks made by a host of VIPs who took turns at the podium that this project is destined to produce great things.

    June 26, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A proud moment for Vigo County

    Most people, regardless of their personal opinions or beliefs on the matter, will admit that they knew the day was coming when Indiana’s law banning same-sex marriages would be overturned by a federal judge. It has happened in other states that have encountered the issue.

    June 25, 2014

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    When those “CSI” TV shows began to burst on the scene in 2000, viewers were mesmerized by the flashy scientific and technological methods police labs were using to build cases against criminals.

    June 21, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Forging ahead

    Life in the digital world has changed drastically for many community institutions. But the Vigo County Public Library, which has navigated various minefields of change in recent years, has shown it can adapt, even improve.

    June 19, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: More needed from Speaker

    Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma did what most people expected he would do in the wake of Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner’s ethics probe.

    June 18, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A woman in the House

    The twists and turns of politics can produce unpredictable results. Just ask Bionca Gambill.

    June 17, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Enticing more students back to campus a worthwhile initiative

    Of all of the educational initiatives paraded before Indiana residents in recent years — some ideas worthy, others flops — none seems more timely or more on point than one approved by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education last week.

    June 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Celebrating local success

    It’s always an uplifting occasion when good things happen to good people. And so we join in the celebration of three people who this week achieved a new level of success and recognition for their professional and personal contributions to life in Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley.

    June 12, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Shoring up the VA

    How America cares for its veterans is indicative of its values as a nation. We’re confident the vast majority of citizens agree that health care for military vets through the country’s network of VA hospitals should meet or exceed common-sense expectations.

    June 11, 2014

  • Editorial: Playing the Nazi card

    There was good news to report from the Indiana Republican Party Convention conducted last weekend in Fort Wayne. The GOP nominated three women to top its general election ballot in November. There isn’t much gender equity in Hoosier politics, so seeing these three rise to the top of the Republican ballot this year is refreshing. But perhaps the best news is that Richard Mourdock, two-term state treasurer and unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate in 2012, will no longer hold public office at the end of this year.

    June 10, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Cleaner environment will help boost city’s image

    In Terre Haute, the difference is becoming apparent between responsible stewardship of the environment and a look-the-other-way attitude about dumping harmful materials.

    June 7, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Ernie Pyle’s words told a personal story

    Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the day when Allied Forces led by the United States military invaded France on the beaches at Normandy. It was the crucial turning point of World War II against Nazi Germany. To observe this somber anniversary, we have given this page’s editorial space the past three days to the columns written by Ernie Pyle in the invasion’s aftermath. Pyle filed three columns about D-Day that were circulated widely in American newspapers beginning June 12, 1944. The first appeared Wednesday. The second appeared Thursday. This is the final column.

    June 5, 2014 2 Stories

  • EDITORIAL: Ernie Pyle walked the beaches of Normandy

    NORMANDY BEACHHEAD, June 16, 1944 — I took a walk along the historic coast of Normandy in the country of France.
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    June 4, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Remembering D-Day — in the words of Ernie Pyle

    NORMANDY BEACHHEAD, June 12, 1944 — Due to a last-minute alteration in the arrangements, I didn’t arrive on the beachhead until the morning after D-day, after our first wave of assault troops had hit the shore. By the time we got here the beaches had been taken and the fighting had moved a couple of miles inland. All that remained on the beach was some sniping and artillery fire, and the occasional startling blast of a mine geysering brown sand into the air. That plus a gigantic and pitiful litter of wreckage along miles of shoreline.

    June 3, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Rape, sexual assault demand greater attention

    When the facts, figures, commentary and analysis about the devastating impact of rape in our society have been consumed, the daunting, even haunting, question is: What can we do to stop it?

    May 31, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Editorial: GOP takes up marriage battle — again

    All eyes will focus on Indiana’s dominant political party next week as it meets to nominate candidates to statewide office for the fall election. But nominating candidates won’t be the item on the Indiana GOP convention’s agenda that garners the most attention. Rather, the public will be watching how delegates handle a proposal to reintroduce the concept of supporting the state’s same-sex marriage ban, which was deleted from the party’s platform during a previous convention.

    May 29, 2014

  • tstribunestar Editorial: Sycamores march on into NCAA baseball tourney

    The traditional academic year at Indiana State University ended earlier this month, so a quieter time has fallen over the Terre Haute campus. But Sycamore pride is swelling this week nonetheless. ISU’s baseball team was selected on Monday to the field of 64 for the 2014 NCAA Baseball Tournament.

    May 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Liz Ciancone: Jail? He’ll cross that bridge when he gets to it

    Sometimes when I’m feeling as if I’m running on empty, someone will toss me an offbeat idea I would never have been able to dream up on my own. And so it was when a friend brought me a clipping from her hometown newspaper over in Illinois.

    May 26, 2014

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