Blunt Object

Blunt Object
Posted by CN Staff on September 25, 2008 at 06:02:16 PT
By Chris Faraone
Source: Boston Phoenix 
Massachusetts -- These days, Howie Carr is not the only smug bully stereotyping pot smokers as dangerously naive dingbats. With Election Day’s Question 2 ballot initiative threatening to reduce the penalty for less than one ounce of weed to a mere civil slap and $100 fine, Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe is leading a coalition of the Commonwealth’s heaviest hitters — including the other 10 Massachusetts district attorneys, Governor Deval Patrick, Mayor Tom Menino, and Attorney General Martha Coakley — to stand united against marijuana reform. But, as the state’s fiercest civic power brokers are quickly finding out, the war over Question 2 is not your typical suits vs. stoners scrum.
Firstly, operatives with the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy (CSMP) are hardly Spicoli-styled dimwits. Together, they gathered signatures from more than 125,000 constituents representing all but one Massachusetts municipality (Mount Washington in the Berkshires) to actually get Question 2 on the November ballot. They’ve also raised nearly $650,000 since 2007, which is a major bummer for Question 2 opponents, who have stashed fewer than $28,000, and who resent CSMP’s feasting on out-of-state contributions, such as the $400,000 the committee received from billionaire Wall Street–tycoon-turned-liberal-activist George Soros.The CSMP accuses O’Keefe’s organization (dubbed the Coalition for Safe Streets) of more than just openly opposing statistical evidence, scientific research, and the will of Massachusetts residents. In a press conference held outside the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse this past Thursday morning, CSMP Campaign Manager Whitney Taylor claimed the district attorneys committed “at least 15 violations of Massachusetts campaign-finance and election laws.” Among the alleged infractions: the Coalition for Safe Streets began accepting contributions and spending funds before it registered with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF), and the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association (MDAA) published lies about the CSMP initiative on its Web site.“Their opposition statement against Question 2 promoted false statements about what the question would do if passed,” says Taylor, who stressed that CSMP is not a libertarian group looking to get high, but is instead seeking to minimize consequences for small-time offenders who are often denied access to student loans, housing, and employment due to Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) reports that are filed upon arrest. Currently, even first-time pot offenders are placed on probation.Although the OCPF press liaison will neither confirm nor deny that it received the CSMP complaint, and therefore cannot comment on whether O’Keefe’s coalition is indeed in violation, evidence gleaned from public documents sure makes it look that way. The Coalition for Safe Streets accepted its first contribution — $2,272.73 from a committee formed by Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett — on July 18, 2008; its first expenditure — $21,000 to the Boston-based consulting firm O’Neill and Associates — came on August 21, 2008. OCPF records also confirm that the coalition neglected to file a statement of organization until September 5, 2008. Prior to that date, the coalition did exist as a Political Action Committee (PAC), but not as a designated ballot-question committee, which is required for this sort of effort.A statement released by the coalition counters: “The actions of the District Attorneys and the Coalition for Safe Streets have been vetted and approved by the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance. This is a desperate attempt by out-of-state pro-drug interests to intimidate those who oppose their efforts to eliminate drug laws in Massachusetts.”As for Taylor’s accusation that the MDAA posted misleading information regarding Question 2 on its Web site, well, that depends on whom you ask. Some argue that statements such as “There is a direct link between marijuana use and criminal activity” are unfounded; the district attorneys, on the other hand, believe that finding dime bags on murderers proves direct links (a coalition press release claims that “Question 2 constitutes an endorsement of substance abuse and dangerous criminal activity” and “benefits drug dealers and dangerous criminals.”) Furthermore, the site mischaracterizes the reform group’s intentions, stating that, under CSMP’s proposal, “any person may carry and use marijuana at any time”; in reality, the initiative calls for minors who get busted with less than one ounce to receive drug treatment and have their parents notified, while adults are to pay the $100 fine and forfeit their weed. Penalties for smoking in public and driving under the influence would remain unchanged under the binding resolution.Attorney General Coakley’s office acknowledged that it received the CSMP complaint, which specifically accuses the MDAA of violating Massachusetts General Law by publishing false statements designed to affect a ballot question. Spokeswoman Jill Butterworth said Coakley was not prepared to comment on the pending investigation, but noted that the attorney general would consider her potential conflict of interest, as well as the fact that the election is fast coming up. In reviewing the case, Coakley should consider that the MDAA’s published statement against Question 2 heavily cites an Office of National Drug Control Policy report that questionably claims, among other things, that marijuana “is a dangerous drug that has no recognized medical value.”  Blowing Smoke  Despite its relatively empty war chest, the Coalition for Safe Streets recently launched a sophisticated spin battle to rally voters against marijuana decriminalization. Nearly every legal, legislative, and spiritual authority has joined the chorus, never mind a 7News/Suffolk University survey conducted this past July and August that found 72 percent of registered voters favor the proposal. With O’Keefe guiding the fold, this past Thursday the coalition held a press conference on the State House steps, where anti-pot reformers, such as Boston Ten Point Coalition Executive Director Reverend Jeffrey Brown and Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley delivered tough speeches stuffed with hysterical rhetoric. Calling Question 2 a radical and extreme measure that fosters “violent business,” O’Keefe right away linked marijuana to addiction, death, and homelessness.Since relevant facts condemning marijuana use are inconvenient to find, coalition members relied on token stories and anti-drug generalities. District Attorney Conley reeled one off about a pot dealer whose jonesing customers strapped him to a chair and incinerated his house when he couldn’t fix them up; Dorchester Youth Collaborative executive director Emmett Folgert attacked so-called gangsta rappers.The coalition had a strong showing; in addition to clergy stars, such as Brown and Reverend William Dickerson, O’Keefe dressed his cause with police chiefs from Revere, Chelsea, Winthrop, and Needham, as well as with state troopers, park rangers, Salvation Army soldiers, and a guy who looks like Karl Rove. They’re also getting organized; following its press conference, the coalition launched — a much more comprehensive condemnation of marijuana decriminalization than the MDAA site.Aside from CSMP’s financial edge and the coalition’s possible campaign-finance infringements (that will almost definitely amount to nothing), the battle over Question 2 is really little more than a democratic street fight. In the end, the will of Commonwealth residents shall prevail; unless, of course, the majority of them vote yes on Question 2. In that case, according to Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone, “We will attempt to defeat it in an appellate process.”Note: The political fight over a November marijuana-reform ballot question has sparked a Battle of the Bong.Source: Boston Phoenix (MA)Author: Chris FaraonePublished: September 25, 2008 Copyright: 2008 The Phoenix Media/Communications GroupContact: letters phx.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy 'Question' About It Should Marijuana be Legalized? Yes or No
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on September 27, 2008 at 09:14:43 PT
I went out to the kitchen because I'm making vegetable beef soup and it dawned on me I heard about Libertarians before CNews but I never heard of them before getting online. There I feel better. LOL!
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on September 27, 2008 at 08:41:23 PT
I'll try to answer about Libertarians as far as how I see it. First I never heard of a Libertarian until CNews. I didn't know what they stood for. I was raised in a 2 party system. My family voted for the best person not a party. Politics have always been a social issue for me. Being raised Catholic that was what was taught and I got the reasons embedded into my head. My father was an accountant and told me how to go thru life and get by. He said never invest in the stock market unless you are rich and can afford to lose the money you invest. He told me it was really gambling. He said buy a home and as inflation happens your home will go up with it and you will have money when you retire if you sell or use your home to have extra money. He said money depreciates but home values will go up slowly but in the end it is sound. He said that we don't have a gold standard so that is what he suggested.
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Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on September 27, 2008 at 04:38:37 PT:
Some bones to pick, here
"“Their opposition statement against Question 2 promoted false statements about what the question would do if passed,” says Taylor, who stressed that CSMP is not a libertarian group looking to get high...Pray tell, when did the term 'libertarian' come to fall into such disrepute? Since when is it a swear word? Considering that the Founders were all classic 'liberals', meaning they favored libertarian causes such as this effort, why then slap those who seek to follow in their footsteps and carry on the proud tradition of personal freedom balanced by responsibility with what amounts to an epithet? 'Libertarian' dose not equal libertine. Yet that is the impression that certain political forces basically inimical to personal freedom and preferring The State to rule over every aspect of your life (for your own good, of course) want you to think. Remember that the next time you hear the word 'libertarian' used sneeringly.And as to proof that the minions of The State have contempt for the democratic process - and the liberties that it is supposed to protect - one need only re-read the last sentence of the last paragraph. Such are our supposed 'servants'...seeking to maintain themselves as our masters.
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Comment #2 posted by JohnO on September 25, 2008 at 10:32:08 PT:
Perhaps it's time 
for another Boston *tea* party. 
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Comment #1 posted by dongenero on September 25, 2008 at 08:22:56 PT
Mass. District Attorney Ass.
It's been a long time since they've had some good tar and featherings in Boston. It may be time for more if these DAs buck the will of the voters.Campaign finance infringements, I think, only work against those trying to change the status quo. These DAs are most certainly immune to the laws.Interesting that these DAs, who would usually be making disparaging, stereotyped comments about their opposition, seemed to have been caught out short on this one, as planning and fund raising goes.
They were probably drinking Gin on Pete's couch. Hey, wake up there, ya drunks! You've got a Govt. welfare salary to protect.
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