cannabisnews.com: Should Marijuana Be Decriminalized?










††Should Marijuana Be Decriminalized?

Posted by CN Staff on March 28, 2008 at 06:15:06 PT
By Rick Ahrens, Daily News Correspondent†
Source: Daily News Transcript†

Boston, MA -- State Sen. Patricia Jehlen thinks the state is wasting time and resources and unnecessarily harming people over small amounts of marijuana.The Somerville Democrat wants to make possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a civil, rather than a criminal, offense. She is sponsoring a bill that would do just that. "I think the public supports this idea, and the public wants the commonwealth's money to be spent more effectively," she said this week.
Her bill is now under review. It got a State House hearing earlier this month at the Bulfinch hearing chamber, which was jammed to capacity with legislators, the media and proponents of the idea.Members of local motorcycle gangs in favor of decriminalization wore leather vests over shirts and ties as they shook hands with others who showed up in favor of the legislation.Jehlen said public support for decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana is widespread and should not be ignored. In the senator's own district, 66 percent of those who expressed their preference in a referendum said they favor the idea.Jehlen took up the issue of marijuana decriminalization when she found out that a constituent's husband was dying of stage-four melanoma and was only able to tolerate his treatments by using medical marijuana.She said she is also concerned about the creation of criminal records for minor drug offenses that may prevent people from getting jobs and in other ways haunt them the rest of their lives."Every time a bill like this has gone to referendum in Massachusetts, it has passed," Jehlen said.Jeffrey Miron, a professor of economics at Harvard who testified at the hearing, published a report last year analyzing the budgetary effects of marijuana decriminalization. Miron estimated that law enforcement would save about $29.5 million annually if the bill became law.The report also includes data that suggests there has been no measurable increase in marijuana use in states and countries that have already decriminalized marijuana.Using arrest data from Brockton and Barnstable, Miron said roughly one third of marijuana possession arrests involve only one charge. Those arrests were either for possession alone, or for possession that was discovered after an individual had been detained for a civil offense, like a traffic violation.In 2006, about 1.9 percent - or 2,474 - of the 130,219 arrests in the commonwealth were for one-charge, marijuana-related offenses. Miron said those arrests would have been unnecessary under the decriminalization bill.Miron did not estimate how state revenue would be affected by the use of a $100 civil fine for marijuana possession under one ounce versus current fines, which can go as high as $500. Currently, many offenders do not pay the fine. The possibility of that trend continuing makes any revenue changes difficult to predict.Miron thinks the move to decriminalize marijuana is worth making."I support this bill because I think it is bad policy to criminalize marijuana, or any other drug," Miron said. "Anything that moves in this direction is a positive step, although in this case, a small step."The argument over what is bad policy spurred passionate rebukes from opponents of the bill in the Legislature.State Rep. Martin Walsh, D-Dorchester, blasted decriminalization supporters during his testimony at the March 18 hearing. While he had not read the current bill itself, he addressed general concerns about how marijuana affects urban communities like his district."My community is among those hit hardest by people using drugs," Walsh said. "There is no one sitting in our jails today who has been arrested for an ounce of marijuana. I don't think the bill makes sense, and I don't think it's good policy."Walsh argued that marijuana is a gateway drug and that allowing the possession of small amounts of marijuana would be like allowing people to carry a small amount of heroin or OxyContin."I hope this legislation does not go anywhere, and I intend to do everything in my power as an elected official to fight this," he said.Walsh said his stand is a matter of conscience, and he knows that not all of his constituents share his view. He acknowledged at the State House hearing, that in a decriminalization referendum 57 percent of those from his district who voted did so in favor of decriminalization.Jehlen, the bill's sponsor, said she thinks her fellow legislators are "nervous" about coming out in support of the bill because they are afraid of being criticized for advocating drug use. She said decriminalizing marijuana would allow the criminal justice system to better use its resources fighting more serious crimes."This bill does not say it's OK to smoke pot," Jehlen said. "What it does is enforce our drug laws more effectively."The Legislature has until May 6 to send the initiative to the governor.Source: Daily News Transcript (Needham, MA)Author: Rick Ahrens, Daily News CorrespondentPublished: March 27, 2008Copyright: 2008 Daily News TranscriptContact:  bedwards cnc.comWebsite: http://www.dailynewstranscript.com/Related Articles & Web Sites:MassCannhttp://www.masscann.org/Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policyhttp://www.sensiblemarijuanapolicy.org/Time To Legalize Marijuanahttp://cannabisnews.com/news/thread23778.shtmlFrank Defends Proposal To Decriminalize Marijuanahttp://cannabisnews.com/news/thread23774.shtmlCommittee Passes Marijuana Billhttp://cannabisnews.com/news/thread23779.shtml

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Comment #19 posted by Hope on March 30, 2008 at 12:51:34 PT
Walsh's conscience?
"Walsh said his stand is a matter of conscience, and he knows that not all of his constituents share his view. He acknowledged at the State House hearing, that in a decriminalization referendum 57 percent of those from his district who voted did so in favor of decriminalization."What about his conscience as an "elected official" REPRESENTATIVE of the people who elected him? Did they elect him to be their representative or their master and dictator...according to his sensitive, shadenfruede polluted "conscience"? Could it be he's more concerned about the one's among his constituency that give him the most money and support for his campaigns and expect him to uphold the injustice of cannabis prohibition against their fellow man?I have trouble understanding a man's "conscience" that directs him to persecute, prosecute, and lord it over others over consuming, possessing, growing, selling, trading, gifting, or sharing of the non-lethal and often very, very beneficial plant, cannabis.
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Comment #18 posted by museman on March 30, 2008 at 07:27:09 PT
Donald#17
You are absolutely correct. And all it would take to end cannabis apartheid is a little more 'american courage' on the morally and ethically right battlefield of human rights and liberties.Standing on firm moral and ethical ground will win the day, as oppposed to 'towing the line' 'you can't fight city hall' 'that's just the way it is' and all the other plattitudinal cliche phrasology used to confuse the truth and common sense about everything from cannabis to sex.People need to see who is doing what in this society, and realize that they've been taken for a ride.I'm glad to see that the fact that our "representatives" are no such thing is beginning to dawn.
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Comment #17 posted by Donald B Parsons on March 30, 2008 at 05:26:08 PT:
JOIN the COALITION OF FREE SPEECH
WALSH is a "REEFER MADNESS" PROHIBISIONIST. In spite of 57% of his costituency "VOTING" FOR Medical Marijuana this (AN "ELECTED" SERVANT) has decided that HE doesn't believe marijuana is a medicine. "HE" is going to do EVERYTHING in "HIS POWER" to see that this legislation goes nowhere.
I'm VERY HAPPY that there are TRUE (FIGHTERS FOR THE PEOPLE) like REP. BARNEY FRANKS, whether he believes marijuana has medical value or not HE is LISTENING to what AMERICANS far and wide are saying.
It is NOT politicians jobs to determine the medicinal values of anything, it IS THEIR "DUTY",no OBLIGATION to PUSH the legislation that "WE THE PEOPLE" want VOTED on.
I PRAISE MR. FRANKS and ADMIRE him for doing something that alot of others FEAR. IT IS O.K. TO SAY YOU ARE FOR RE-LEGALIZING MARIJUANA without FEAR of PERSECUTION or PROSECUTION, That is what PROHIBITIONISTS want you to do. FEAR OF PROSECUTION is ONE of their TOOLS to KEEP US QUIET, and as far as I am concerned IT AIN'T GONNA FLY NO MORE. NO ONE is going to throw me in jail for simply saying I SMOKE MARIJUANA DAILY. NO ONE is gonna throw me in jail for saying I BELIEVE IN RE-LEGALIZING MARIJUANA AS IT SHOULD BE. SOMEONE WILL throw me in jail if they SEE me actually SMOKING MARIJUANA, but I WOULD NOT DO THAT. What I'm trying to say is that it is O.K. to come out of the closet (so to speak) and speak up without incriminating yourself. PROHIBITIONISTS WANT TO KEEP US QUIET....               PEACE
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on March 29, 2008 at 10:22:09 PT
Had Enough
Last night on National Geographic we watched Dogtown. If you haven't ever seen it I think you would appreciate it. Working for an organization like this one when I was younger would have been a wonderful thing to do. http://www.bestfriends.org/dogtown/
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on March 29, 2008 at 09:37:48 PT
Had Enough 
Thank you. That big field could be fun to use for a group of people. We just mow it and mow it and mow it. Soon it will be time. A few more weeks and spring will really be here unless we have a fluke April snowstorm! I'm glad our tractor is fixed and working well. It makes the mowing take much less time then when we just use a riding lawn mower that we have to use when the old tractor doesn't want to work. Over the last few years it has been almost totally rebuilt so I have high hopes this mowing season. We have a number of acres that we must mow. 
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Comment #14 posted by Had Enough on March 29, 2008 at 09:17:05 PT
Pictures...
Pictures, thousands of words at times. That picture is a good one.It would even make a good postcard too!!!Looks just right for the ĎVictory Jam Gathering' after this unjust and unnessesary madness about a plant is over with.
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on March 29, 2008 at 08:41:11 PT
museman
Art and music are very important to the wholeness of people I think. I love programs about ancient archaeology and what I see is Art. Music calms people or inspires people if made with the correct intentions. I am not an ant but a human being and that is how we all are. Some don't seem to understand what I mean though.Glad you liked the picture.
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Comment #12 posted by museman on March 29, 2008 at 08:04:18 PT
FoM
Nice picture. Looks like a place I could relate to."I marvel at man's capabilities but not more then the creation around me."The only capabilities of man that are worth aknowledging are the arts -not the 'arts' of manipulative controlling behavior-Science is not an art, though tinkering is. Knowledge and information is not art, but the way it is used can be.The arts should be the major focus in our education system, because it is the arts that make life better. Isn't it funny how high a proportion of cannabis users there are amongst all forms of artists? Not many drunks (except 'performing artists'-and then only after preliminary success) accomplish much in the creative department.Art and music are the only real distinction between us and a hive-mentality. Without the individuals ability and freedom to express themselves artisticly -which includes philosophical and spiritual activities- there is no redeeming aspect of life amongst humans, just 97% of the population serving and entertaining the other 3%. It is also notable that the ruling powers have produced very little art and music in their bloodlines, they rely on their servants to provide it for them.
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Comment #11 posted by The GCW on March 28, 2008 at 22:00:32 PT
Should Marijuana Be Decriminalized? NO!
Should Marijuana Be Decriminalized? NO!It should be completely RE-LEGALIZED.
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on March 28, 2008 at 18:41:32 PT
museman
I have also been in big cities. I'm not afraid of them either but I know what you mean about the vibe. This is a picture of us plowing our road to get to another gravel road during our surprise snow in March that we had. Deer were grazing in our front yard the other day. I find that my spiritual life is content in the country. I relate to the creation but not man made objects. I marvel at man's capabilities but not more then the creation around me.http://www.freedomtoexhale.com/MarchSnow.JPG
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Comment #9 posted by museman on March 28, 2008 at 18:12:53 PT
FoM
Sanity and big-city life just don't seem to be in the same boat - for me at least. I did get a good taste of the midwestern cities, and the california cities - I made a conscious choice and effort, one that cost me much in terms of jobs and economic opportunities, to get out of the city and find a way to raise my family as close to nature as possible.I've made a few forays into Babylon over the years, for different reasons, and I have to admit I've completely lost any desire to compromise with the comfort of my spirit for the uptightness of the city. I am extremely uncomfortable in the city -not because of the number of people, but because of the intensity of the vibe. To think I used to trip and walk down those city streets as if they were my own. These days the city is a frightening place, a pergatory where people turn into numbers and statistics, and don't seem to want to relate on the freeways of their lives. I wouldn't want to have to die in one, let alone attempt to live in one. 
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on March 28, 2008 at 17:11:27 PT

museman
The politicians are almost people. That's priceless. I think that Oregon is a special state because many people who didn't like the way things were back in the 60s moved to your state I read one time. It's where many Hippies decided to live. They couldn't live on the east coast and remain sane in my opinion.
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Comment #7 posted by museman on March 28, 2008 at 16:26:47 PT

FoM
Oregon is an island in sea of federalized states. In the 60's and 70's there was an exodus of 'hip' types from many of the cities of both california, and the east coast. It took years to establish continuity with the GOBs, but cities like Portland and Eugene settled a lot of liberal minded folks.The Rainbow Gatherings were born here. The 'back to the land movement' was centered here. The environmental movement was centered here. Recycling, alternative energy, and wholistic medicine began here first, even if it took a while for the local redneck governments to recognize the value of recycling beyond aluminum cans. There were other small isolated islands of alternativism scattered across the country, but it took in Oregon.Oregon is the heart of the State of Jefferson -a mythical independant nation that some few actually take into serious consideration.I guess that's why I favor Oregon over the many other states I've visited. If the infrastrucure came crashing down tomorrow, many people in Oregon know how to live without it, and we'd get by a lot better than some states.The politicians are almost people here, but they are still politicians -they serve the money and the status quo first -it's the nature of the game, but Oregonians know they have power so the politicians are a little more in the people's pockets than the corporations.Oregon is a good state, as far as they go.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on March 28, 2008 at 11:19:58 PT

museman
I found this on the link I posted. He sounds level headed. I'd like a Senator like that.Medical Marijuana Where do you stand on the issue of medical marijuana in your state? For ten years, use of marijuana has and created [redorbit.com]a legal vacuum for the public interest versus the private use issue [nwsource.com]. Would you protect growers of medical marijuana in your state from federal prosecution when such situations occur? Do you support the free and open use of a chemical that has no known addictive qualities, no known adverse health effects and broad, diverse public support for its decriminalization? Novick: Excerpt: I don't think it is the business of the federal government to second guess Oregon's voters and doctors, who in 1998 approved the creation of a controlled medical marijuana program, 55-45 percent. Since then Oregon voters and legislators have proven more than capable of weighing the merits and challenges of the program, suggesting that if a real problem emerges with medical marijuana in Oregon, we'll be able to fix it ourselves. I resent the Bush Administration's "big brother" attitude on both this program and our physician-assisted suicide law. It indicates they believe voters here are too ignorant to make informed decisions on these tough medical questions. I firmly disagree and will fight in the Senate to make sure that Oregonians, and residents of all states, have the prerogative to make these decisions for ourselves. I favor Oregon's sensible laws on the regulation of marijuana itself. http://interviews.slashdot.org/article.pl?no_d2=1&sid=08/03/28/1445207
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Comment #5 posted by NikoKun on March 28, 2008 at 11:19:32 PT

The uneducated are the ones determining our laws
"My community is among those hit hardest by people using drugs," Walsh said. "There is no one sitting in our jails today who has been arrested for an ounce of marijuana. I don't think the bill makes sense, and I don't think it's good policy."
Communities are only negatively effected by Marijuana, BECAUSE IT'S ILLEGAL... Which creates black markets, gang drug dealers, drug cartels, and the violence associated with that. Prohibition is what causes these problems, not the drug."Walsh argued that marijuana is a gateway drug and that allowing the possession of small amounts of marijuana would be like allowing people to carry a small amount of heroin or OxyContin."
Marijuana is NOT a gateway to anything, except an altered state of mind. Calling Marijuana a gateway drug, is based on nothing more than a Logic Fallacy, and backwards correlations which don't stand up. Marijuana can not make you move onto any other drug, or make you do something against your will. It is merely the outcome of the choices individual's make, if they do end up using harder drugs.And legalizing/decriminalizing Marijuana, doesn't legalize anything else.. And it doesn't even have to support the use of Marijuana, merely allow it, for people who want it, without criminally punishing them, when they don't deserve that. Marijuana is a safer drug, than even Alcohol, nevermind heroin or OxyContin... This bill does not legalize recreational use of those drugs. Totally different topic, which he's trying to twist into this one.
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Comment #4 posted by ripit on March 28, 2008 at 10:47:15 PT:

so when walsh...
  says " marijuana is a gateway drug and that allowing the possession of small amounts of marijuana would be like allowing people to carry a small amount of heroin or OxyContin".is he not aware that oxycontin is allowed? just how the hell do we educate him and ppl like him!
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Comment #3 posted by museman on March 28, 2008 at 08:10:16 PT

my answer to the question
"Donít we have more important criminal justice priorities than prosecuting marijuana users?"Yes, like presidents and politicians who owe their livelihood to corporate polluters and destructors. All war makers are the greatest criminals. Those who believe in war support war, go to war, and send their kids to war. (And hand out medals as if that was some kind of compensation) Ignorance and stupidity is a good defence in some cases, but once the deed is done there is no getting it back. Those young men are just as dead and maimed.How about those who carelessly trod on others on their way to their entertainment, wielding power that is theirs by virtue of birth and inheritance? Their upholding of evil for the sake of their own comfort is criminal on a cosmic scale, yet they are the ones who control the economics, the law, the religions, and by virtue of non choice -the peoples lives. Criminals all.The very people who claim to be 'servers of justice' are in fact criminals of insidious proportion.If you turned the prisoners out to be jailers for the guards, the guards stand a better chance of being treated as human.Cops are trained predators, by and large are all alcoholics, their IQ is usually about 12 points above brain - dead, and they are loose cannons. They inspire fear and loathing, and are the revealing fact of the loss of our liberty.And then there are the preachers and teachers who defend the status quo and assist in the confusion of young minds with BS propaganda about this 'glorious nation' and the 'opportunity' to become a slave to the rich, and how that is 'serving god.' Criminals deserving of justice.There is a line drawn between the Corporate, Political Lords and the people. The distinction is obvious. If you are on the status quo side, you are either a modern-day feudal lord (corporate or political) or a slavering dog serving its masters, if you are on the other side, you are just a slave. No matter how talented or skilled, or how much intelligence you may posess, until you bow to your 'betters' no doors open in this world, no 'opportunity' is available without the consent and endorsement of the Lords of the Status Quo.In the eyes of these monsters posing as humans, there is no greater crime than consiousness. Cannabis is known to invoke consiousness in its more spiritual and intelligent users, unlike alcohol which is known to produce stupidity and unconsciousness -guaranteed every time. -CANNABIS IS NOT 'EQUAL TO ALCOHOL'!!!-Of course the catch 22 is that people believe in the status quo. They can't possibly envision a world where Big Brother isn't there to wipe their asses for them, where they might have to "save themselves" instead of 'waiting for jesus.'The only solution is for intelligent people to get THC in their bloodstream, into their head. Maybe then they'll get the courage to point out -like the uncontaminated child- that the emporer is naked......
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on March 28, 2008 at 07:47:28 PT

Press Release From The Drug Policy Alliance
Medical Marijuana Closer in New JerseyThursday, March 27, 2008 http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/032808njmmj.cfm

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Comment #1 posted by FoM on March 28, 2008 at 06:33:19 PT

Reflections on War, Race and Pot 
March 28, 2008Excerpt: Finally to Rep. Barney Frank, the Massachusetts congressional delegationís brightest and most verbally facile congressman. Like Sen. Obama, Congressman Frank recently showed some of that political courage just referred to above by sponsoring a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. 
 He should be commended for saying publicly what so many criminal justice and medical experts have been saying for years: Why would we waste precious criminal justice resources and prison space on those who consume a product which by every anecdotal and scientific standard is less toxic and addictive than either alcohol or tobacco? 
Since the early 1980s, more than seven million Americans have been arrested for marijuana possession offenses. In 2006 alone, according to the FBIís Uniform Crime Reports, 738,916 were arrested for simple possession Ė not trafficking or sale. Nearly 80 million of our fellow citizens admit to having tried it, while 11 million admit to using it on a monthly basis. The war on marijuana users costs taxpayers more than $10 billion annually. 
 Congressman Frank poses a good and important question with his proposed bill: Donít we have more important criminal justice priorities than prosecuting marijuana users?    Complete Article: http://barnstablepatriot.com/home2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14639&Itemid=112
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