I don’t know precisely why I find it so sad to see Amish kids mixed up with drug use, but I do. I suppose I have a tendency to harbor the notion that Amish people are set apart for a higher purpose. To be sure, they are. But they are also just people, like any of the rest of us, and although they may strive for an unusually high standard of saintliness, they sometimes do not achieve it. Such is the case recently in Holmes County, Ohio, of a young Amish man who has now been sentenced to thirty days in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of trafficking in drugs. He sold marijuana and spice to an informant.
Spice is a mix of dried plant material and synthetic cannabinoids that affects a user as if it were concentrated THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. It is quite popular these days, along with other synthetic marijuanas like K2, Blaze, Yucatan Fire, Skunk and Moon Rocks.
Fifty years ago, would anyone have believed that Amish youngsters would get involved with drugs like this? Don’t answer too quickly. Amish people sometimes smoke and drink beer and wine. And Amish teens have gotten into their share of trouble with law enforcement. They always have. In truth it is nothing new. It’s just that it seems to be happening more these days than it used to.
The man in this case has cooperated with officials, and he has gone home to his family. Perhaps his Rumspringe is over. At the time of his sentencing, he declared that it was his intention to join the Amish church. That is a good thing, but it could have been worse for him. He was originally sentenced to nine months in prison, but that sentence was suspended. He also was fined $600 and ordered to pay $60 in restitution. Also, his license was suspended for a year, he was placed on three years of community control sanctions, and he will have a year of electronically monitored house arrest. During his thirty day jail sentence, he was given work release. If he violates probation, his original sentence will be reinstated. Any way you look at this, that is a stiff sentence for an Amish lad.
But what of the larger question about Amish people who find themselves in trouble with the law? Should we be surprised when it happens? Increasingly, I am afraid, the answer is ‘no.’ It seems every month there is more news about one kind of criminality or another somewhere in the country involving Amish people. As hard as they try to hold themselves apart from the rest of modern society, the Amish still prove themselves to be just people, human like the rest of us.
Is that sad? Surely. But perhaps it is inevitable. At least to some extent. Still, Amish people do strive for a higher religious standard. Maybe that’s why the rest of us are so taken when they fail.