I get a better view of US laws from Holland.
First, we have (via TM) a judge who is taking the cost of punishment into account, i.e., how much it costs to put someone away. This is a good use of cost-benefit that's been stripped from judges, via three-strikes type laws passed by populist politicians who think that "lock 'em up" solves problems.
Next, we have an interesting example of legal entrapment by a sheriff:
Third, I heard from a friend that her son was pulled over ("driving while hippie") in Tennessee. After heavy pressure, he admitted to possessing some marijuana. The fine was $2,400 plus one year probation. I'm going to call this "fiscal law and order." Nobody was harmed by this hippie van, but cops are pursuing easy targets for money, instead of solving crimes.
Fourth, Governor Schwarzenegger signed a law changing the penalty for possession of less than one ounce of pot from a misdemeanor to a citation (like a traffic ticket). The fine is still $100. Pot is now officially decriminalized (but not legal).
Fifth, here's a handy guide to the price of weed, updated by buyers wiki-style. It only covers the US. But weed costs about $10/g here (about $35 for an eighth). Good medical MJ costs about $44 in California (in fact, it's better than Dutch MJ). So much for a massive drop in prices fallowing decriminalization.
Sixth, I smoke marijuana here, in California and in other parts of the world. Nobody has died. Maybe that's because I have a PhD? According to this paper [pdf], more education means less crime. Hear that politicians?
Bottom Line: Laws should address actions that are harmful to society (murder, rape, theft), not actions that some people dislike (being gay, using drugs, driving "fast"). Can we get some more civilization please?
Addendum: Listen to this fascinating podcast on the "medicalization" of depression. It's not that you feel bad, but that we can sell you a drug that will treat your "disease." Wow.