by James A. Bacon
Enforcement of the laws of Virginia may become optional in Fairfax and Arlington Counties when newly elected Commonwealth’s Attorneys — Steve Descano in Fairfax and Parisa Dehghani-Tafti in Arlington — take office. Both have promised to stop prosecuting marijuana possession, reports the Washington Post.
Descano and Dehghani-Tafti said pot possession prosecutions do little to protect public safety, disproportionately fall on people of color, saddle defendants with damaging convictions and can be better spent on more serious crimes. …
Descano said the policy brings Fairfax County’s values into the courthouse. “I traveled around Fairfax County for over a year listening to people,” Descano said. “The thing that came up time and time again was simple possession of marijuana — how it was a waste of resources and led to unjust outcomes.”
The arguments against prosecuting pot possession are not unreasonable. Indeed, Governor Ralph Northam has proposed decriminalizing the offense. What’s disturbing is that the two prosecutors aren’t willing to wait for the General Assembly to enact a law this session, which would go into effect in July. They feel compelled to take legislative matters into their own hands and nullify the state law now in effect.
First sanctuary cities. Then second amendment sanctuaries. Now pot possession. The conviction is spreading across Virginia like a mutant flu virus that local officials are free to ignore laws they don’t like.
Regardless of your sentiments regarding illegal immigrants, gun rights or pot possession, every Virginian should find this trend alarming. If there’s one issue that transcends all others, it is that the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia are subject to the rule of law, not men. When government officials — especially when those in charge of enforcing the law and prosecuting violators — pick and choose the laws they enforce and prosecute, we are hurtling toward anarchy.
Every argument Descano advanced could be replicated with minor alterations in the 100+ localities in Virginia that have declared themselves to be Second Amendment sanctuaries.
Local prosecutor So-and-So had traveled the length and breadth of [insert name of rural county] for over a year listening to people. The thing that came up time and again was gun rights — how it was a waste of time to prosecute people for possession of arms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. So-and-So said his policy of non-prosecution of gun crimes brings [name of rural county]’s values into the courthouse.
Governor Northam will face a choice. He has expressed his determination to enact new gun-control laws and then to enforce them. Given the hyper-polarized times in which we live, he had better not crack down on local officials in “red” Virginia for failing to enforce the law while overlooking similar failures of local officials in “blue” Virginia. Refusal to uphold all local officials accountable, not just those with whom he disagrees philosophically, will only feed the widespread alienation in “red”‘ Virginia against the ruling elite, with potentially dire consequences.There are currently no comments highlighted.