More Views On the Pamela Davis CaseA recent court decision...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 23, 1993

More Views On the Pamela Davis Case

A recent court decision in Carroll County has caused me to be concerned about certain trends that I perceive to be threatening some of the freedoms that are of most importance to me.

A local businesswomen, obviously a vocal proponent of the legalization of drugs, particularly marijuana, was sentenced to two years in prison for the apparent possession of a small, but illegal, amount of the plant. The method used by the Carroll County Drug Task Force to establish probable cause was to intercept a UPS delivery of supposed marijuana from California, pose as a legitimate UPS employee and deliver the substance. When a resident signed for the package, the task force obtained a legal search warrant, performed a search and seized items in the home.

This performance by the task force and its sophomoric perpetration of a crime to establish probable cause for one ounce of a weed that can be grown in a closet, much less California, is precisely what troubles me. This incident, unfortunately, appears to be a vendetta directed toward a citizen who has a legitimate belief that the use of marijuana should be legal. . . . This recalls a similar incident that occurred several

years ago in Westminster when a former county commissioner was strip-searched. This commissioner was often a target of many who opposed his views and he was very strong in his opinions. His vehicle was searched for drugs on the tip of an "informer" and none was found. . . . Since he was running for state senator, the event was a major blow to his campaign and was certainly a low point in Carroll County politics.

It disturbs me that drug enforcement procedures are being used against citizens that make legitimate use of their First Amendment rights. . . .

In our zeal to identify and punish drug offenders and to give police more power to enforce the unenforceable, we have allowed the erosion of other rights, particularly the sanctity of our homes, all in the name of drug enforcement. A recent story covered in the local newspapers told of a Vietnam veteran in Kentucky who, through the use of government drug forfeiture laws, lost his farm when he was convicted of growing marijuana for his own use. It was the only drug that would ease the pain he was suffering from a severe injury he received in the war. . . . Had he been growing tobacco, the government would have paid him a subsidy. . . .

I find it very difficult to support our current policies on drugs, particularly when alcohol is sold legitimately, across a counter in daylight, and I benefit to an extent by the heavy tax collected on the sale. Should we expect less from drug sales?

With these conclusions, am I to expect the same results as the women and the politician? Should I expect my door to be battered down, a victim of probable cause? (Incidently, having lived in Manchester all my life, the door will probably be unlocked).

Having expressed my concern, and since it appears that a new sense of leadership has overtaken our state and nation, perhaps it is time for debate and action on this very troubling problem.

Vince DePalmer

Manchester

Kudos to Judge Raymond E. Beck for the sentence he handed down to Pamela Davis for her conviction for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, as well as maintaining a common nuisance.

Your editorial in The Sun May 4 states that "compared with other recent sentences the judge had imposed, Davis' was unquestionably harsh." It was further commented that the punishment didn't fit the crime. I couldn't disagree more.

Judge Beck's sentence in this case was totally appropriate. Pre-trial comments made by Ms. Davis, in which she attempted to make a folly out of this most serious of matters, clearly demonstrated not only her unwillingness to accept culpability for her illegal conduct in this offense, but her apparent reluctance to live within the parameters of society's laws in the future.

While Ms. Davis apparently believes she should be able to sit around the farm house and get mellow by smoking a little dope, an overwhelming majority of her fellow Carroll countians don't buy into her argument that this is acceptable behavior in their community.

Laws, after all, are but extensions of society's . . . philosophies and convictions. Ms. Davis apparently does not understand that the whims of a single part are never more important than the interests of the greater whole. Judge Beck's sentence in this case, and in every case, must serve as a reminder that no one is above the laws which we in the community have put into place.

While Ms. Davis has received less than an enthusiastic response in her attempts to make us in Carroll County see the errors of our ways, she may find some comfort in knowing that a larger segment of the community in a place called Berkley, Calif., fosters a similar attitude in the smoking of a little marijuana.

David Russell Etheridge

Hampstead

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