cannabisnews.com: Question 2 on Marijuana Possession Heats Up Debate





Question 2 on Marijuana Possession Heats Up Debate
Posted by CN Staff on October 22, 2008 at 08:52:07 PT
By Peter Goonan
Source: Republican
Springfield, MA -- Two area district attorneys have stepped up their opposition to a Nov. 4 ballot question that would decriminalize possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, saying the proponents are spreading misinformation about the impact of the current law.Hampden County District Attorney William M. Bennett and Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth D. Scheibel said that proponents of ballot Question 2 falsely want voters to believe that people arrested for simple possession of marijuana are faced with a lifetime criminal record.
In fact, a first-time offender has the case continued without a finding for six months and it is then dismissed and the record sealed, Bennett said. Thus, it will not affect someone's future employment or student loans, he said."It is being suggested that one instance involving marijuana follows you the rest of your life. That is not the way it is," said Bennett, who was joined by Scheibel this week at an editorial board meeting at The Republican.Whitney A. Taylor, campaign manager for the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy, disagreed. Taylor said Tuesday that upon arrest and booking, a Criminal Offender Record Information document is created. Even if a person is ultimately exonerated on a charge of possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, the arrest remains on the document, which can be sealed.A future employer or college checking on the individual can find that there is a sealed, criminal record and eliminate the person from consideration for work or enrollment, Taylor said. She added that in certain situations, including adults seeking to adopt or to become a foster parent, the mere existence of a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) document is disqualifying."What we are saying is they are faced with the lifetime of the CORI," said Taylor, who added: "We want a punishment that fits the offense for this one simple offense."However, marijuana possession cases that are continued without a finding become sealed records, and can only be accessed by law enforcement officials, according to a general counsel official from the Criminal History Systems Board. Therefore, potential employers, school officials and others could not learn that a record exists, sealed or unsealed, she said.The question would replace criminal penalties for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana with a $100 fine. Both district attorneys said their offices have programs that divert a simple charge of marijuana possession out of the criminal justice system.In addition, Bennett said the idea that police resources are focused on people who only use marijuana is "just false." People with multiple charges, that might include marijuana, are the ones behind bars, Bennett said.In addition, Bennett and Scheibel said that decriminalization sends the wrong message. It is a "green light" for youth to use marijuana and that marijuana is not harmful, Bennett said.Proponents say the question would have no impact on arrests involving the sale, distribution or trafficking of any amount of marijuana."We do not promote or condone marijuana use," Taylor said at a recent editorial board meeting. She added that the question is "a simple, very modest proposal that can have a big impact."Staff writer Michael McAuliffe contributed to this report. Source: Republican, The (Springfield, MA)Author: Peter GoonanPublished: October 22, 2008Copyright: 2008 The RepublicanContact: letters repub.comWebsite: http://www.masslive.com/republican/Related Articles & Web Site:Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policyhttp://www.sensiblemarijuanapolicy.org/Vote 'Yes' on Question 2http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread24244.shtmlNo on Question 2http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread24242.shtml
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Comment #2 posted by John Tyler on October 22, 2008 at 18:45:34 PT
why is it still a crime?
In fact, a first-time offender has the case continued without a finding for six months and it is then dismissed and the record sealed, Bennett said. Thus, it will not affect someone's future employment or student loans, he said. (Donít you have to state that you have never been arrested for a drug law violation on you student loan application? (I donít remember seeing a part about except if the record has been sealed.) I think that there is also a law about not making false statements on state and federal forms too. Also a lot of job applications ask if you have ever been arrested for any reason, anytime, anywhere, and if so, fill in the details even down to traffic violations. If you lie, it is grounds for dismissal. Plus, a lot of employers will routinely do a pre-employment criminal background check.) Blah blah blah. However, marijuana possession cases that are continued without a finding become sealed records, and can only be accessed by law enforcement officials, according to a general counsel official from the Criminal History Systems Board. Therefore, potential employers, school officials and others could not learn that a record exists, sealed or unsealed, she said. And then both district attorneys said their offices have programs that divert a simple charge of marijuana possession out of the criminal justice system. And finally people with multiple charges, that might include marijuana, are the ones behind bars, Bennett said. OK. If they supposedly treat cannabis infractions so mildly already, why not take the criminal offense out of it altogether and avoid all if the unncessary and costly procedures mentioned earlier? Itís the right thing to do.
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Comment #1 posted by NikoKun on October 22, 2008 at 12:46:48 PT
They forget....
Even having the NOTE of a sealed record, on your profile, can appear in a background check or otherwise cause harm throughout your life in the future.A relative of mine had been arrested for pot once in college, had it on his record, then had that "cleared"... Yet a note of something having once been on his record, was still there, and it cost him a very good job opportune. The people who were going to hire him, actually mentioned it, but without any opportunity for debating it.Stupid bullshit prohibition. If weed is no worse for you than Alcohol... NO ONE can justify it being illegal.
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