A Responsible Change To An Unfair Law

A Responsible Change To An Unfair Law
Posted by CN Staff on October 05, 2008 at 08:05:45 PT
By Tom Kiley
Source: Boston Globe
Boston, MA -- By ending the creation of permanent criminal records for minor marijuana offenders, dealing with juvenile marijuana use in a stricter yet more responsible way, and saving taxpayers an estimated $30 million a year, Question 2 will work for Massachusetts.Question 2 creates a civil penalty system for personal possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. It replaces arrest with a citation similar to a speeding ticket, and ends the creation of permanent arrest records known as Criminal Offender Record Information reports. CORIs are particularly damaging:
They're generated solely upon arrest - meaning that a person can be exonerated or have the charges dropped yet still carry the record for years, imperiling the ability to gain employment, housing, and other necessities. And while CORIs are supposed to be removed after a set period of time, the system is broken: There are 2.8 million records in the database, in a state with just over 6 million residents.CORIs and the collateral sanctions resulting from the 7,500 low-level marijuana arrests each year also cost individuals their ability to adopt children, get bank loans, and participate in many community activities.Question 2 will rectify this by eliminating CORIs for low-level marijuana possession offenses. Marijuana remains illegal under Question 2, and all related laws - including laws banning sales, distribution, and trafficking - remain unchanged. Additionally, Question 2 in no way affects laws or regulations prohibiting driving under the influence or workplace intoxication.Question 2 takes a more proactive approach to juveniles than does the current law. Offenders under 18 will have the citation delivered to a parent or guardian, so the family is immediately involved - which isn't necessarily the case currently. Instead of worrying about attorneys, court dates, and navigating the criminal justice system, families can focus on the young person.Under Question 2, those issued a citation must complete a drug awareness program and community service.Eleven states have enacted similar laws. The National Research Council concluded that "cross-state comparisons in the United States have found no significant differences in the prevalence of marijuana use" between those 11 states and the rest of the country. The World Health Organization released a study this year saying that "countries with stringent user-level illegal drug policies did not have lower levels of use than countries with liberal ones."According to Harvard economist Dr. Jeffrey Miron, Question 2 will save taxpayers almost $30 million a year in arrest, booking, and basic court costs alone. And this doesn't include any additional court costs, probation costs, or loss of taxable earnings due to a person's inability to work or to go to school after the loss of a driver's license.Question 2 will keep these funds where they belong - in community coffers, where they're needed for local programs and to fight violent, serious crimes. Additionally, all fines generated will stay in the community where the offense occurred.Question 2 is a good, modest public policy proposal that will conserve taxpayer resources and remove these outrageous, unfair lifelong penalties.Tom Kiley is a former first assistant attorney general and a practicing attorney for 38 years.Source: Boston Globe (MA)Author:   Tom KileyPublished: October 5, 2008 Copyright: 2008 Globe Newspaper CompanyContact: letter globe.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy Opens The Door To More Problems Backers Aim High
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on October 06, 2008 at 07:49:46 PT
OT: Stock Market
The news is slow so I am watching the numbers on the stock market. It was down near 600 and recovered a little. It is now in the 9 thousand area. This whole things doesn't surprise me at all but it is interesting to watch.Also at 12 noon this web site will be launched for those who are following politics closely.
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Comment #1 posted by John Tyler on October 05, 2008 at 20:03:52 PT
in the news
Stuff is happening around the world also. The Mexican President is calling for decrim of cannabis and coke. from England, the head of some big legal study committee will be recommending to the UN that cannabis should be a legal item of international trade. 
(I apologize if this article has been mentioned before.) US prohibitionists are going to be worked up over this and the other cannabis items on several state ballots this November, but cannabis is a valid and useful product that has been maligned unnecessarily for decades. It is time to change that and try to put things right again. 
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