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  Bill Would Make Pot Legal in State
Posted by CN Staff on January 19, 2007 at 10:50:14 PT
Source: Portsmouth Herald  

cannabis Concord, NH -- Using and selling marijuana would be legal under a bill debated by state legislators. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Charles Weed of Keene, told colleagues Wednesday that legalizing marijuana would give police more resources to tackle violent crime.

He also said that existing laws governing marijuana are too harsh and lead to users being jailed with people who use or sell much more dangerous drugs, such as cocaine and heroin.

"If people are convicted for soft-drug use, they're in a problem for the rest of their lives," Weed, a Democrat, told the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

The bill is co-sponsored by two Republicans: Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, of Manchester, and Rep. Paul Ingbretson, of Pike. Weed and Ingbretson are also sponsoring bills to legalize medical marijuana use and allow farmers to grow industrial hemp, which is not a drug.

Vaillancourt called marijuana possession a "victimless crime" and said the drug is less harmful than legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco.

However, even some advocates said the bill goes too far. Matt Simon, a spokesman for the Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy, said it should be amended, although the group is collecting signatures in support of the bill.

"The way it is now, you could grow a field of marijuana, drive it across into Massachusetts," he said. "This is a place to start the discussion of what the best way is to change the policies."

Similar proposals have failed before. The attorney general's office and state health officials oppose the bill, along with groups representing police chiefs and county sheriffs.

State police Maj. David Kelly said marijuana use often leads to people trying harder drugs. "Decriminalization will come at the expense of society, of public safety, of children and of you," he said.

Simon Brown, head of the attorney general's criminal justice bureau, said police resources would be further stretched by legalization, not decreased, as supporters argued. He also said marijuana use has been shown by researchers to impair driving and can even lead to violence.

But police Officer Bradley Jardis, speaking on behalf of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a national group the supports legalization of marijuana, questioned the link to violence.

"In my experience, I've never gone to a fight call or domestic violence call where it's only because of marijuana," he said.

He also cited federal statistics showing that marijuana use has never been a primary cause of death.

State Health and Human Services offficials say about 10 percent of state residents use marijuana, with higher numbers among teenagers and young adults.

Source: Portsmouth Herald (NH)
Published: January 19, 2007
Copyright: 2007 Seacoast Newspapers

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Common Sense Marijuana Policy

Bill Would Allow Marijuana Sales

Lawmakers Aiming To Legalize Pot

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Comment #6 posted by FoM on January 19, 2007 at 18:29:23 PT
California Dreamin'

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Comment #5 posted by mayan on January 19, 2007 at 18:24:23 PT
California Dreamin'
One of the best songs of all time, Imho.

R.I.P., Denny Doherty.


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Comment #4 posted by FoM on January 19, 2007 at 16:39:44 PT
Off Topic: Mamas and the Papas
For those who remember the Mamas and the Papas, Denny Doherty passed away today. I always loved their music.

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Comment #3 posted by FoM on January 19, 2007 at 14:07:41 PT
Isn't that the neatest thing! LOL!

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Comment #2 posted by Dankhank on January 19, 2007 at 14:01:02 PT
Believe It?
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Charles Weed of Keene.....

does it get any better than that?

surely there is Karma ...

Peace to Weed ...

so much in that ...

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by FoM on January 19, 2007 at 11:17:09 PT
Related Article from The Drug War Chronicle
Marijuana: Decriminalization Bills Filed in Massachusetts, New Hampshire


Drug War Chronicle, Issue #469

January 19, 2007

Twelve states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon) have enacted some form of marijuana decriminalization, all of them during the 1970s, but if legislators in Massachusetts and New Hampshire have their way, that number will grow again this year for the first time in decades. In the former, friendly legislators are reintroducing a decrim bill, while in the latter, a local group is allying with legislators to push new legislation.

In Massachusetts, Senate Bill 881, sponsored by Sen. Pat Jehlen, with four cosponsors, is a refilling of a bill that was approved last year in the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee. It specifies a civil penalty for the possession of one ounce of less of marijuana of $250.

The Massachusetts effort builds on years of work by the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts and the Bay State NORML affiliate, MassCann. The two groups have brought ballot questions urging their representatives to support various marijuana reform measures before more than 400,000 Bay State voters, and won every one of them. It remains to be seen if the popular support for reform can be translated into a new decrim law.

In New Hampshire, a new grassroots group, the Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy is urging support for HB 92, which was set for a Wednesday hearing in the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

"Despite the threat of severe penalties, many responsible, productive New Hampshire citizens continue to use marijuana. As long as these individuals do not harm others, we believe it is unwise and unjust to continue persecuting them as enemies of the state," the group declared.

Hopeful that the Granite State's "Live Free or Die" motto will resonate with their peers, Reps. Chuck Weed (D-Keene), Paul Ingbretson (R-Haverill), and Steve Vailancourt (R-Manchester) sponsored the bill. But even though Democrats took over both houses in the November elections, the measure's chances are uncertain. It will be opposed by the usual suspects in law enforcement and the Attorney General's office. The fate of a 2001 medical marijuana bill, which was overwhelmingly defeated, also signals potential problems.

Still, despite a decades-long hiatus since the decrim glories of the Carter years, legislators in at least two states will have the opportunity to renew a long dormant reform movement.

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