Editor's Note: Hundreds of Ann Landers' loyal readers have requested that newspapers continue to publish her columns. These letters originally appeared in 1999.
Dear Ann Landers: I just got a phone call from my son. He said, "I've been arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute." I knew he had used marijuana on occasion, but I'm sure he never tried to sell it. A lawyer told me if someone is caught with marijuana, chances are, the police will add "intent to distribute" even in the absence of supporting evidence. The accusation of intent changes the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Ann, my son is a good kid who attends college and has a part-time job. He didn't hurt anyone. He didn't steal anything. He didn't cheat anybody. He was caught with marijuana for his own personal use, and for this, he could get 30 years in prison. He has never gotten so much as a parking ticket.
I don't approve of smoking grass, nor do I approve of smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. But this punishment seems excessive. I can't help but think of the thousands of families that have suffered this same horror. These harsh laws hurt us all. People who criminalize marijuana believe that users are dangerous addicts in dark trench coats, lurking near playgrounds, ready to pounce on young children.
I plead for compassion for those who are hurting only themselves when they use dangerous substances. What they need is counseling and medical intervention, not prison. Harsh laws don't work. Furthermore, they cost us a fortune in taxes to prosecute and incarcerate people who pose no danger to society. Enough. — A Sad Mother in Va.
Dear Sad Mother: I'm sad about your son's predicament. If the police added "intent to distribute" without real evidence, your son will need the help of a competent lawyer who can get those charges dismissed.
I have long believed that the laws regarding marijuana are too harsh. Those who keep pot for their own personal use should not be treated as criminals. Thirty years in prison makes no sense whatsoever. I'm with you.
Dear Ann Landers: I am a male responding to the letter about women who fake orgasms. In order to demonstrate how ridiculous your response was, I am violating the most sacred secret of the male sanctuary. The truth is that men fake orgasms, too. One sure clue of faking is that immediately after the "performance," he will pretend to be totally exhausted and go right to sleep. By so doing, he leaves his woman fulfilled and happy and avoids any kind of confrontation regarding the legitimacy of his performance. Clever? — Phoenix
Dear Phoenix: I can't resist the temptation to make a lame joke about Phoenix rising — from the ashes, that is. Let's just say that your duplicity is noble, but I doubt you are getting away with anything.
Ann Landers' booklet "Nuggets and Doozies" has everything from the outrageously funny to the poignantly insightful. Send a self-addressed, long, business-sized envelope and a check or money order for $5.25 (this includes postage and handling) to: Nuggets, c/o Ann Landers, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
ANN LANDERS (R)