Pot Bill Authors Look To Appease Critics

Pot Bill Authors Look To Appease Critics
Posted by CN Staff on April 23, 2008 at 06:11:29 PT
By Kevin Landrigan, Telegraph Staff 
Source: Nashua Telegraph
Concord, NH -- The two, upstart Nashua authors of a marijuana decriminalization bill offered to restrict it to first-time offenders in hopes of overcoming the opposition of Gov. John Lynch to the House-approved measure.Reps. Jeffrey Fontas and Andrew Edwards said this would erase fears it would be a get-out-of-jail-free card for repeat offenders and do as intended, give a young person leniency single mistake.
But the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday heard two hours of the same arguments for and against this bill that stunned political observers when the House of Representatives passed it last month on a vote of 193-141.The bill would drop punishment for possession of up to a quarter-ounce of pot to a fine of no more than $200. Currently, the same offender can get up to a year in county jail or fines of up to $2,000. Matthew Simon, executive director of New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy said even opponents point out judges ignore the jail punishment and order fines for first-time offenders.“If nobody agrees the penalties are appropriate, why can’t we change that?” Simon asked.Proponents contend this would prevent New Hampshire from punishing students with the loss of college aid for a single conviction.But Karen Eckal, speaking for Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, urged the bill be killed outright.The college aid loss for one year is a federal law and this would not change that or do anything for New Hampshire students attending college outside the state.“There is no amount of tinkering with our law that is going to change that fact,” Eckal said. “As well shrouded as this is in good intentions, it doesn’t accomplish what the sponsors think it will.”Rep. Delmar Burridge, D-Keene, said his 35 years working the court system in Philadelphia convinced him that treating marijuana use lightly was the wrong direction for any state to take.“I would kill the bill and not put our youngsters behind the eight ball,” Burridge said.Sen. Robert Clegg, R-Hudson, said the bill is flawed in that drug users could face jail time for transporting the small amount of pot or possessing rolling papers.“Does that make any sense,” Clegg, a bill opponent, asked.Simon agreed those changes should be made.“I do not think that is a reason to kill the bill. I think it is a reason to improve it,” Simon said.Caladora Cala, of Nashua, a supporter, walked to the hearing table carrying two placards linked by two sets of handcuffs.“Prohibition is not freedom. We are going to stand up whether it’s with this bill or somewhere else,” Cala said. BILL AT A GLANCE: Bill No. HB 1623SPONSORS: Reps. Jeffrey Fontas and Andrew Edwards, D-Nashua.DESCRIPTION: The bill decriminalizes the possession of up to one-quarter ounce of marijuana to a violation that carries a $200 fine. STATUS: The authors offered Tuesday to scale the leniency in this legislation down to a first offense in hopes of winning over converts as Gov. John Lynch and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Foster, D-Nashua, have vowed to kill this House-approved bill. Source: Telegraph, The (Nashua, NH)Author: Kevin Landrigan, Telegraph Staff Published: Wednesday, April 23, 2008Copyright: 2008 Telegraph Publishing CompanyContact: letters nashuatelegraph.comWebsite: http://www.nashuatelegraph.comRelated Articles & Web Site:NH Common Sense The Right Move for N.H. Penalties Vary Widely Right To Reduce Marijuana Penalties 
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Comment #1 posted by museman on April 23, 2008 at 08:13:50 PT
criminalize the corporate rich
Better chance of catching and prosecuting real know the ones who enslave the working class and 3rd world, profit from pollution, imprisonment and war?Or we could just legalize freedom and be done with it.
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