Woman faces 30 years in prison for bong water 

Even though the Minnesota legislature passed a law last year decriminalizing drug paraphernalia even if it had drug residue, prosecutors charged a woman for possession of bong water, and she now faces 30 years in prison. From Christopher Ingraham's article in the Minnesota Reformer:

For charging purposes under state law, 8 ounces of bong water is considered the same as 8 ounces of pure methamphetamine. That's well over the 50-gram threshold necessary to trigger a first-degree felony offense.

"The legislative intent behind the weight-based thresholds is to approximate whether a person is an end user or a dealer," said Kurtis Hanna, a longtime Minnesota drug reform advocate. "The fact that some county prosecutors are subverting that clear intent and are charging end users as though they are wholesalers, ruining their lives in the process, is shameful."

The police also took the woman's car and cash:

Deputies also seized Beske's car and $2,400 in cash and intend to permanently forfeit them under a state law that allows authorities to take vehicles used to transport controlled substances "intended for distribution or sale," and cash that represents "the proceeds of a controlled substance offense."

Beske says she won the cash at the casino that night, and when she was pulled over she had a tax form from the casino to prove it. 

It makes you wonder if the prosecuting attorney is a sociopath who gets pleasure from destroying people's lives:

Scott Buhler, the assistant county attorney prosecuting Beske's case, said "I will not comment on any pending cases. The criminal complaint filed in Ms. Beske's case speaks for itself." He added that his office "simply enforces the laws of this state as written."

Buhler gained statewide attention in 2014 when the Star Tribune reported he was one of the few attorneys in the state charging people for violating an archaic law requiring them to pay taxes on illicit drugs. 

"I simply charge it a lot because it leaves all options available regarding plea bargaining and sentencing," he said at the time. Lawmakers tried, but ultimately failed, to repeal that tax during this legislative session.

Beske is distraught by the prospect of spending the rest of her life in prison:

Beske admits to having a substance abuse problem. She says it started while she was in the process of leaving an abusive ex.

"The only thing I am guilty of is using substances to ease my mental suffering from a sick and abusive predator," she said. "Drug addicts – especially women – are made to feel like public enemy number one, when in fact most of us have been victims of serious crimes that will never be prosecuted."

The thought of 30 years in prison makes her despair. "It's just going to make my life worse and make me want to do more drugs," she said. "That's why people do more drugs, it's to cope."

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