Politicians have a knack for banning things, making them illegal.
Many of those things are deemed “dangerous” and laws are written in the name of “safety.” For some reason, they believe words on paper, coupled with extortion (fines) will keep people from taking risks that could cause some type of bodily harm.
But the punishments doled out for these illegal things are not equal.
Let’s compare two things. One is an explosive device; the other is a plant.
Certain types of fireworks, those that explode or leave the ground, and cannabis are both illegal in North Carolina. Both are reasonably easy to purchase. However, while the possession of illegal fireworks is a misdemeanor and may result in short jail stay a modest fine, the possession of certain amounts of vegetation can land you behind bars for years with a felony conviction, causing you to lose the rights* to vote and own or possess a firearm.
(*If someone can take away your “right” to do something, is it really a right or just a privilege?)
We would argue that cannabis is less dangerous than are fireworks.
An individual smoking a joint in the comfort of his or her own living room isn’t doing damage to anyone else’s person or property.
Conversely, people setting off Roman candles could potentially start a fire or severely harm themselves or someone else. The noise alone, with fireworks going off in the wee hours of the night, interferes with neighbors’ need for sleep, frightens pets that may run away and possibly die, and triggers reactions in those with post-traumatic stress disorder or just bad nerves.
Whenever the public cries out against marijuana prohibition, officers of the law drag out the tired old line, “We may not agree with it, but it’s still the law and we have to enforce it.”
Despite this, the state’s fireworks laws seem less enforced.
You don’t see ATF checkpoints near the South Carolina border for bootleg bottle rockets. (Crossing state lines would make it a federal matter.) SWAT teams aren’t kicking down doors searching for unlawful mortars. Confidential informants aren’t involved in undercover operations to purchase firecrackers.
Hamlet Police Capt. Marc Terry gave a reasonable explanation when he said enforcement of illegal fireworks is tough because, despite complaints being made, offenders would have to be caught in the act, even if the evidence is clearly visible.
But drug warrants have been issued and raids conducted — and some people and pets injured or killed — by evidence (even if it turns out being completely unrelated to drug activity) being found in someone’s garbage or by someone else’s word.
Don’t get us wrong — we’re not in favor of stricter enforcement of fireworks laws. In fact, just the opposite.
We believe the people of this state should be able to possess any type of fireworks, as well as any amount of cannabis, as they please. We also feel that the mere idea of outlawing nature is absurd.
The only time they should face punishment and lose their liberty is if, through neglectful use of these things, they cause harm to others.
To the politicians: Embrace and encourage freedom — and stop banning things.