By Phillip Smith
The Oklahoma Senate Wednesday passed a bill that would mandate a sentence of up to life in prison for making hashish out of marijuana. The House has already approved the measure, but it must go back to the lower chamber for a final vote.
The measure sailed through the Senate with little debate, passing on a vote of 44-2. The House also approved the measure by a large margin, passing it on a vote of 75-18.
The bill, House Bill 1798, creates a new felony of converting marijuana into hash. A first conviction could garner a $50,000 fine and prison sentence of two years to life. Second or subsequent convictions would net doubled penalties.
Oklahoma legislative analysts said the bill would cost the state $56 per day, or more than $20,000 a year, for each day someone is imprisoned. At that rate, if Oklahoma imprisoned five hash makers for 10 years each, the bill to taxpayers would be one million dollars.
The bill was the brainchild of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (OBNDD), which says on its web site that its mission is "to serve the citizens of Oklahoma in the quest for a drug-free state."
According to the Tulsa World, OBNDD said there have been "few" cases of hash making in the Sooner State. But OBNDD spokesman Mark Woodward said the goal of the bill is to "send a message" that illegal drugs won't be tolerated in Oklahoma.
Neither, apparently, will common sense or a sense of proportionality.