Bill Would Allow Marijuana Sales

  Bill Would Allow Marijuana Sales

Posted by CN Staff on January 18, 2007 at 06:10:21 PT
By Walter Alarkon, Monitor Staff  
Source: Concord Monitor 

New Hampshire -- If Rep. Charles Weed's bill passes, selling marijuana would be legal in New Hampshire. Weed argued yesterday that legalizing marijuana use and sales would free up the police and government to tackle more violent crimes. In a hearing of the criminal justice and public safety committee, Weed said current laws are unfair to those who are convicted of marijuana use. They can be unfairly incarcerated with users of harder drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, he said.
"If people are convicted for soft-drug use, they're in a problem for the rest of their lives," said Weed, a Democrat from Keene. A person convicted of marijuana possession, a misdemeanor, can receive up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. A person convicted for the first time for the sale or cultivation of more than 5 pounds of the drug, a felony, can receive a sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of $200,000. Weed's bill goes further than the marijuana laws of all states. While several states have decriminalized penalties against marijuana users, none allows sales or the recreational use of the drug. Marijuana can be used in 11 states for medical purposes.  Matt Simon, a spokesman for Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy, said that the bill will be amended. "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." The bill is also sponsored by Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, a Republican from Manchester, and Rep. Paul Ingbretson, a Republican from Pike. Vaillancourt called marijuana possession "a victimless crime" and said some legal substances, such as tobacco and alcohol, are more dangerous. When asked by Rep. Jeffrey Fontas why the bill's language didn't address how legal marijuana would be regulated, Vaillancourt said the committee's amendments would do that. State law enforcement and health officials opposed the bill, saying that legalizing marijuana would only make the drug more available and further stretch their resources. Maj. David Kelly of the state police said that a person who tries marijuana often ends up 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 the police have their hands full regulating tobacco and alcohol. Like those two drugs, marijuana can also be harmful, he said. He cited federal studies that show the drug can impair a user's concentration and coordination, which are vital to driving, he said. Studies also connected marijuana use with violent acts, he said. But Bradley Jardis, a police officer in New Hampshire, questioned whether marijuana can lead to violence. "In my experience, I've never gone to a fight call or domestic violence call where it's only because of marijuana," said Jardis, who didn't give his department. He was speaking on behalf of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a national group of law enforcement officers who support legalizing marijuana. Citing the Federal Drug Administration, Jardis said marijuana use hasn't been the primary cause of any drug-related deaths. Committee members questioned whether federal law would trump the bill. Brown said it was "complicated" and something that would need to be resolved. But Ingbretson, a co-sponsor, said the state's decision could serve as a message for the federal government. "When they feel the heat, they see the light," he said. About 10 percent of New Hampshire residents use marijuana, said Joseph Hardy of the Department of Health and Human Services. More than a fifth of 12- to 17-year-olds use it, and almost a third of 18- to 25-year-olds are users. Weed and Ingbretson, along with two members of the criminal justice committee, have also sponsored a bill that would allow medical use of marijuana. Another proposed bill would allow hemp to be grown for industrial uses. The Legislature often considers bills trying to loosen marijuana laws, said Bill Knowles, chairman of the criminal justice committee. While those efforts have failed, Weed, who has sponsored a similar bill before, said a new majority and leadership in the Legislature might change things. Note: Legislation exceeds laws in other states. Source: Concord Monitor (NH)Author: Walter Alarkon, Monitor Staff Published: January 18, 2007Copyright: 2007 Monitor Publishing CompanyContact: letters cmonitor.comWebsite: http://www.concordmonitor.comRelated Articles & Web Site:Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy Lawmakers Aiming To Legalize Pot -- Cannabis Archives 

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Comment #5 posted by FoM on January 18, 2007 at 10:47:41 PT
Had Enough
You're welcome and have a good day at work.
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Comment #4 posted by Had Enough on January 18, 2007 at 10:45:39 PT
FoM re: #3
Just got back.You are so cool to put that on the front page. I know you don’t do many LTE’s, but this one is good, it should be in all the papers, over and over until things get right.My thoughts are, that if enough people see that, it might inspire others to write letters to their people too.I’m guessing about 175,000 people might see that, maybe more. Who knows how many will be inspired.Off to the daily grind again.Thanks again…
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on January 18, 2007 at 07:52:34 PT

Had Enough
I went ahead and posted it. I don't usually do LTE because that is Mapinc. speciality but I did with this LTE for you.
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Comment #2 posted by Had Enough on January 18, 2007 at 07:36:58 PT

Masked Men…. holding their breath
Who was that masked man who said that the front pages weren’t changing???Comment #1 would make a good front page.Need more LTE’s make print, just like that.

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Comment #1 posted by FoM on January 18, 2007 at 07:07:14 PT

LTE: Legalize Pot? I'm Not Holding My Breath 

By Bruce M. Carleton Jr., Henniker, For the MonitorJanuary 18, 2007 
Re "Bill aims to legalize marijuana use" (Monitor, Jan. 16): It won't happen - not with the mindset of our "leaders." The History Channel has shown and re-shown the story of marijuana and how it came to be illegal. Do congressmen ever watch TV (other than football)? Those who would rule us should be required to watch educational TV now and then and maybe read a book or two about the real world. Why is it, Mister Lawmaker, that you won't even allow medical researchers to study marijuana? What kind of evil do you think is in that flower anyway? I've done a lot of research into drugs. I've never heard of anyone dying, becoming ill or losing their minds and going starkers from eating or smoking marijuana. And how many people lie bleeding in the road at this very moment because of your drug of choice? Apart from the many humane reasons that exist, legalizing pot will bring down the price. You can tax it and pay for education. The police and courts will be able to concentrate on important things, like actual crime. 
Legalization would give millions of Americans reason to believe you guys are people, too. That alone should be a reason to consider it. The way you guys are running things, you need all the friends you can get. 
I have a personal stake in this bill. I have a condition listed on various marijuana bills. But it should be legal for healthy people, too. I am a peace lover and do not steal from or harm anyone. I am, if anything, a benefit to society. There are many more like me. Would you arrest us all for the crime of trying to feel good while we explore our minds? Legalizing marijuana might help some people get away from the drugs that really are harmful. BRUCE M. CARLETON Jr. Henniker 
Copyright: 2007 Monitor Publishing Company
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