Marijuana Law Advocates Seek Wider Change

  Marijuana Law Advocates Seek Wider Change

Posted by CN Staff on November 08, 2008 at 06:20:31 PT
By David Abel, Globe Staff 
Source: Boston Globe  

Boston, MA -- Advocates for the decriminalization of marijuana, savoring their success this week in Massachusetts, said they look forward to a day under an Obama administration and a Democrat-led Congress when it's no longer a federal crime to possess small amounts of the drug.They cited a bill introduced in the spring by Representative Barney Frank, which would decriminalize possession of marijuana in amounts of 3.5 ounces or less anywhere in the United States. The bill, if it became law, would end federal prosecution of such crimes, but it would not supersede state laws.
The advocates said they hope the bill would lead to hearings and spark more support from fellow lawmakers in the coming session."We anticipate the bill will be reintroduced fairly early in the next session," said Keith Stroup, legal counsel and founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), which has long lobbied for the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana. "Then what we expect is that we will be able to get legislative hearings this session, and maybe a vote on the floor of the House."He said his organization, which helped Frank draft his bill, is looking for a sponsor in the Senate.But Frank said in a telephone interview that he doesn't foresee his bill passing anytime soon. The Newton Democrat said it will take a lot more time before enough of his fellow lawmakers want to take a stand on the issue."What needs to happen is that constituents who support this need to make more calls," Frank said. "This is a case of people being ahead of the politicians."This week, Massachusetts became the 13th state in the country to decriminalize marijuana when voters approved Question 2 on the ballot, which made getting caught with less than an ounce of marijuana punishable by a civil fine of $100.The change in the law means someone found carrying multiple joints will no longer be reported to the state's criminal history board. The law will require those younger than age 18 to complete a drug awareness program and community service, and for those who don't, the fine will increase to as much as $1,000.The vote in Massachusetts follows a form of decriminalization that passed seven years ago in Nevada, where it remains a felony for anyone under age 21 to possess marijuana. The other states - Maine, New York, California, North Carolina, Oregon, Ohio, Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska - decriminalized marijuana in the 1970s, according to NORML.Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, said the only other statewide efforts he knows of are in New Hampshire, where a bill to decriminalize marijuana passed the House, and in Vermont, where a similar bill passed the state Senate. Both bills were tabled when they didn't receive support in the other chamber, he said.The group's main effort in recent years has been passing laws in municipalities such as Amherst, Mass.; Seattle; Oakland; Denver; Columbia, Mo.; Missoula, Mont.; Fayetteville, Ark.; and Santa Barbra and Santa Cruz, Calif. Those communities made prosecution of their state's marijuana possession laws their "lowest law enforcement priority."Some activists, however, argue that decriminalization efforts have hurt the larger goal of legalizing marijuana."Decriminalization does make it easier on the people who get caught, but it makes it harder to get activists on board to change the laws," said Don Christen, founder of Maine Vocals and Maine Citizens for Medical Marijuana. "When it's decriminalized, people just pay the fines and aren't as concerned about legalization."But Stroup said decriminalization is the right strategy.He hopes overturning the federal law, which makes marijuana an offense punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine on the first conviction, will prod more states to relax their laws."There are enormous costs simply to keep the pressure on for legalization," Stroup said. "Our goal is to stop all the arrests of responsible marijuana smokers."Source: Boston Globe (MA)Author: David Abel, Globe Staff Published: November 8, 2008 Copyright: 2008 Globe Newspaper CompanyContact: letter globe.comURL: Articles & Web Site:NORML Wants To Drop Federal Penalties for Pot Defends Proposal To Decriminalize Marijuana 

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Comment #21 posted by Shielde on November 10, 2008 at 17:01:30 PT:
The reason state laws mean nothing
"The bill, if it became law, would end federal prosecution of such crimes, but it would not supersede state laws."Just a random thought. . . if I remember correctly from most of the articles that I have read here . . Have people opposing cannabis not been saying the reason that decriminalization, legalization, and medical use cannot be done on the state or local level is that Federal Law trumps the lower level laws on these matters
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Comment #20 posted by museman on November 09, 2008 at 09:37:59 PT
99.9% of all cops are CRETINS. The proof is in the pudding.If their occasional assistance in times of disaster even closely balanced with their destruction, violence, and promotion of fear and loathing in america, then maybe they would deserve better reviews. However, as a group of people they are the most horrid, corrupt, evil beings on the planet, topped only by their corporate/political masters.So, though there are rare individuals within the ranks that believe in service, rather than petty power, for the most part they are cretinous, so calling a monster by any other name, it is still a monster, or a cretin as the case may be.FREE VAPE FOR EVERYONE
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Comment #19 posted by Hope on November 09, 2008 at 08:05:30 PT
Yes... I know... I lashed out...
I named called... which is something I studiously try to avoid. It just about overshadows anything else I might have said that might have made sense.I should rephrase that to keep my goal of personal behavior control in mind.Carnell... you're acting like a Cretin. Why? Oh right... you like arresting people. You like binding their hands behind their backs, handling them roughly, showing them who is the boss, and forcing them... a human being into a cage over personal possession of an unjustly prohibited plant and plant material.
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Comment #18 posted by Hope on November 09, 2008 at 07:58:10 PT
Sam's Comment 9
At one point Carnell says, "Few people, if any, who were arrested for simple possession were ever in any real jeopardy of a serious nature, provided they learned from past transgressions."He doesn't get the point about arrests at all. He likes arrests... for even matters so inconsequential as possession of cannabis. He sees nothing wrong with handcuffs and being made to go where you don't want to go and being caged.He get's all sarcastic, "Poor Biff and Muffy, arrested for simple possession of marijuana, would be saddled for life with a criminal arrest record, depriving them of college loans and jobs."Mr. Carnell, some of us care a lot about "Poor Biff and Muffy".... you Cretin!
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Comment #17 posted by FoM on November 09, 2008 at 06:47:44 PT
Thank you for the comment. I am hopeful that as a country we will take advantage of this brand new time in our government. One where people become more important then how people have valued society under the current administration. I am looking forward to a United States of America.
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Comment #16 posted by OverwhelmSam on November 09, 2008 at 06:38:45 PT
Change State Laws
It's relatively easy to get elected to the state legislatures. Some of these yokels get in with a few hundred votes. Anyone can find a couple of hundred people to vote for you. Change state laws and the federal government becomes irrelevant.
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Comment #15 posted by afterburner on November 09, 2008 at 01:32:28 PT
FoM #3 
Early yesterday morning I heard a documentary on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The following words struck me as very relevant to our currnet situation regarding the election of President-elect Obama and the need for continuing citizen actions to tame the war on cannabis."We must work passionately and unrelentingly to make the American Dream a reality." --Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.The documentary continued by stating that Dr. King was influenced by Gandhi. "I have found that life persists in the midst of destruction and, therefore, there must be a higher law than that of destruction." --My Faith in Nonviolence 
by Mohandas Gandhi"...for I can see that in the midst of death life persists, in the midst of untruth truth persists, in the midst of darkness light persists. Hence I gather that God is life, truth, light. He is love." --Gandhi's Voice - Spiritual Message (On God) marijuana, or medical cannabis, reform is a significant part of overall health care reform. Here are some general suggestions (How can the medical cannabis community build on these?):Can Obama's Win Lead to Meaningful Health Care Reform? 13 Urgent Suggestions for a Healthy USA. 
Wednesday, November 05, 2008 by: Mike Adams (see all articles by this author).
Key concepts: Health, Obama and Health care himself said, "What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you."So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers – in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people." --U.S. president-elect Barack Obama's victory speech,obama-vistory-speech-grant-park-110408.articleCarpe diem, my fellow Americans, carpe diem!
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Comment #14 posted by The GCW on November 08, 2008 at 22:10:20 PT
Wisconsin & Gary Storck
US WI: Michigan's Marijuana Law May Nudge Wisconsin
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Comment #13 posted by rchandar on November 08, 2008 at 21:20:48 PT:
My Sense
I didn't look at the link, but most of what a Boston cop will say will involve some kind of conspiracy theory or other. As in: we know all pot users are dangerous criminals, people who commit violent crimes. In reality, most of these "crooks" are kids or family heads who like to enjoy their recreational time......which brings me back to the example I posted two years ago. A black boy, nine years old, face down on the pavement, four police cars. His life is over. For what? For something so trivial, it's obscene. Remember, though--these are cops. They're used to having a complete monopoly of moral discretion. Television and community organizations preach their undisputed right. Scary, ain't it? A lot more scary if that type of control over a community could be modified or revoked.I have, of course, no sympathy. Not just because I support decrim; but mostly because I've seen how Miami cops live--usually, with the kind benefit of drug property seizures. Any trip around my parent's neighborhood will find at least half a dozen cops who have done well--perhaps, too well? Brand new boats, Ferraris, half-million dollar homes. Cops are paid WAYYY too much, and the bulk of this wealth comes from drug seizures--property, cars, money, anything. And nothing stops them, not just because good citizens are afraid of losing what they've got. It's also because we are indoctrinated on a daily basis to have this unqualified trust in the badge.--rchandar
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Comment #12 posted by rchandar on November 08, 2008 at 21:14:12 PT:
I Envy You
...because you're closer to the action than anything that I see. I moved to New Orleans; as far as MJ comes, it's like the Dark Ages unfortunately.--rchandar
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on November 08, 2008 at 18:56:09 PT
That's a down right nasty article. He doesn't seem to understand how a Democracy works or respect it either.
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Comment #10 posted by The GCW on November 08, 2008 at 18:37:41 PT
2 MIllion.
2 Million people going to the booth and speaking up is a lot of clout.And that's just voters; if there are another 1 million who didn't vote, that's another 65% of supporters and probably larger...It's hard to imagine cops et al. even considering anything but honoring the will of 2 Million people.With that in mind, what kind of occupation of people would attempt to disregard 2 million people who voted to in effect love one another?Isn't that what this issue is really all about; love one another. Don't put Your neighbor in a cage for using a God-given plant. Love one another.In My eyes cannabis prohibition is the work of the devil and the people who would consider repealing decriminalizaion are doing the work of the devil.-0-I AM one with Christ God Our Father; I AM a Christ. A Christ in the flesh.-0-The cannabis prohibitionists, doing the work of the devil is one with the devil; the devil in the flesh.-0-Many times I get anxiety thinking that it's just too easy to obey Christ God Our Father; to love one another. I expect evil things to end already. Then I realize I must be patient. The Christ will expose the works of the devil. In exactly the most God-Awesome perfect time.Sometimes though, inside Me, I want to wave My hand and rid of the devil.-0-The Father, The Son and I AM together as One. I know that I couldn’t support or enable cannabis prohibition and still be together with the Father and the Son.The devil separates people from the spirit of truth from the beginning; exactly where We're told God created all the plants saying they are all good.I'd like the power of the devil to end.GOOD exposes bad; not the other way around. -the Spirit of Truth!
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Comment #9 posted by Sam Adams on November 08, 2008 at 18:05:01 PT
more sour grapes
look at this - if it's as "bad" as he makes it sound, Boston is going to be a great place! that this guy is a union rep, what else would you expect - I think many of the actual street cops are in favor of this and probably even voted for it.
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Comment #8 posted by ekim on November 08, 2008 at 17:32:39 PT
65 % of voters or 1,938,366 registered voters
Pot Policy at The Federal Level 
Posted by CN Staff on November 07, 2008 at 14:23:30 PT
By Paul Armentano, NORML 
Source: AlterNet USA -- We've had our celebrations; now the real work begins.
In Massachusetts, where 65 percent of voters mandated an end to minor marijuana possession arrests, police and pundits are already calling on lawmakers to amend -- or even repeal -- the new law. Therefore, if you reside in Massachusetts, it is critical that you contact your state elected officials, as well as Democrat Gov. Deval Patrick and Attorney General Martha Coakley, and demand that they fully implement the will of 1,938,366 registered voters of the commonwealth of Massachusetts who voted "yes" on 2.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++David Blume author of Alcohol Can Be A Gas. Will be on Coast to Coast 
Nov 13
(COAST to Coast Radio with George Noory David on for a 3 HOUR Special Call In welcome program 
Start: 23:00
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Comment #7 posted by rchandar on November 08, 2008 at 10:05:31 PT:
Criticisms of the Drug War
I wish John Steinbeck was still alive to comment on the Drug War, a la Grapes of Wrath. There's a terrible completeness in his writings about exploitation.
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Comment #6 posted by rchandar on November 08, 2008 at 09:59:13 PT:
Thanks For Helping Me Get My Stats Straight...
...but that doesn't matter. Nevada is a very small state, whereas Massachusetts is symbolic for many reasons. This is an important battle in the world of legalisms. Traditional logic is that: users and small-time dealers get the book thrown at them, whereas big mafia leaders solicit elaborate legal defenses to keep them out of jail. Evening the playing field is not only fair, it is necessary--and for us, the primary responsibility which we expect from Barack.Now--Frank's legislation should not be dismissed so soon. If federal penalties are brought in line with decrim, it too sets a precedent which is useful to us. There are numerous federal cases which involve small amounts of MJ. But more than that, it will trump state cases--in other words, if the Feds don't have a big problem, why should the states?State Troopers and cops will cry foul: they will cite the usual examples of "buzzed driving." The key thrust of our argument should be: "no one goes to jail for small-time usage, without correlative damage or crime."It's an unique and historical chance. What with the Senate and House being fully in the hands of Democrats, and Obama in the White House, we would be insane to blow this chance.No Surrender!--rchandar
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on November 08, 2008 at 08:07:43 PT
Just a Comment
I remember very well when Keith Stroup helped get my state's marijuana laws decriminalized and I was so happy. That experiment from a 20 to 40 year sentence to $100 fine for anything under 100 grams has worked all these years. It takes the sting out of the harsh marijuana laws that so many states still have.
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Comment #4 posted by HempWorld on November 08, 2008 at 07:34:45 PT
Hello Boston Globe boneheads ...
Marijuana advocates seek complete legalization!If cigarettes, the most toxic, deadly and addictive substance known to man (nicotine) with absolutely NO medial use, killing about half a million Americans alone, every year, are legal. Then marijuana, which is non-toxic and non-addictive with MEDICINAL USE DOCUMENTED GOING BACK 5000 YEARS OR MORE, NEEDS TO BE LEGAL ASAP.This obvious thruth seems so simple yet, after more than 70 years of stupidity and blatant racism we cannot 'understand' this.
On a mission from God!
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on November 08, 2008 at 07:29:48 PT

There you go! Now you are looking forward like we really should right now. We haven't had any hope for so many years. When we lose hope we dispair. When we dispair we defeat ourselves and they win in my opinion.
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on November 08, 2008 at 07:16:47 PT

Ah, maybe the Globe is starting to realize that Mass. and New England can lead the US in MJ reform. Whether the stodgy grumps on the editorial board like it or not!RI nearly became the first state to legislate medical dispensaries last year, and VT and NH nearly passed decrim. CT is one bad Republican governor away from medical MJ. And Maine may have a big medical dispensary referendum in 2009.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on November 08, 2008 at 06:26:24 PT

Barney Frank
Barney Frank's Bill is what I am waiting for. 
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