Half-Baked Reasons For Opposing Pot Law

Half-Baked Reasons For Opposing Pot Law
Posted by CN Staff on January 15, 2009 at 21:20:38 PT
By Justine R. Lescroart
Source: Harvard Crimson
Massachusetts -- When citizens of Massachusetts voted yes in November to Question 2, the “Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative,” many of them thought that they were voting to legalize marijuana. Because marijuana is illegal under federal, not state law, this would be impossible—states can only choose how they punish use of the drug, not whether or not it is illegal. The new law, which was inserted into The General Laws of Massachusetts, chapter 94C, section 32L, actually reads, “possession of one ounce or less of marihuana shall only be a civil [rather than criminal] offense, subjecting an offender who is eighteen years of age or older to a civil penalty of one hundred dollars and forfeiture of the marihuana, but not to any other form of criminal or civil punishment or disqualification.”
In Massachusetts that is, small-scale possession became the legal equivalent of a bad traffic ticket. Law enforcement officers, however, worry that citizens’ first impression may prove all too close to correct—that the “marijuana ticket” will prove impossible to enforce and is thus a de facto legalization of weed. In the short run, officers should try to enforce the law as best they can, despite the enforcement challenges that it presents; it is, after all, law. In the long run, however, citizens and officers alike should consider the real reasons that officers hesitate to enforce the law, and what can be done to better the situation. It is essential to uphold the integrity of the law to the degree that law enforcement officers can. In a January 3rd article in the Boston Globe, “Police Balk at Ticketing Marijuana Offenders,” chiefs of police in the towns Clinton and Auburn stated that because of the flaws in the law’s wording, their forces would not even attempt to enforce it. Their line of reasoning here is faulty. Police are not hired to legislate, but to enforce legislation. One concern voiced by Wayne Sampson, executive director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association—that state law prohibits officers from demanding identification when dealing with civil infractions—is simply not true. Other worries, including those such as who will print the physical tickets, that current citation books lack a check-off box for marijuana possession, or that officers will be unable to identify “an ounce,” are simply laughable. Law enforcers in Massachusetts are trained to deal with life-and-death scenarios; they should have enough initiative and creativity to improvise physical tickets in the short-run and to Wikipedia “ounce,” as anyone can do with an internet connection. Despite enforcement issues, some users are sure to be compliant, which means that the law will be at least partially enforced. Officers must do their best to enforce this democratically-enacted legislation, even if a few marijuana offenders will slip through the law’s loopholes. It is worth noting, however, that some police officers’ reluctance to enforce the law as it now reads may be because citizens of Massachusetts on whole (police included) overwhelmingly believe that marijuana use should not be considered a crime. While it is understandable that the Massachusetts Sheriff’s Union and the Massachusetts’ Chiefs of Police Association opposed Question 2 (due of the enforcement challenges that it presents), these very organizations could make their own—and citizens’—lives much easier by supporting movements such as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), which seek to remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act Schedule I list. This list, which claims to include and does include drugs (1) with a high potential for addiction, (2) no medical use and (3) a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision. Schedule I is not the right place for marijuana—a drug no more addictive than cigarettes, that very arguably has medical uses (such as an anti-nausea medication) and is not unsafe under medical supervision. Question 2 raises several important issues for Law Enforcement Officers in Massachusetts. For now, officers should do the best that they can to enforce the existing laws. Eventually, however, officers’ organizations should realize that all would benefit from removing marijuana from the controlled substances act and letting states determine the actual legality of smoking pot. Law enforcement organizations would help citizens and themselves by getting behind the movement to legalize marijuana. Justine R. Lescroart ’09, a Crimson editorial writer, is a Romance languages and literatures concentrator in Quincy House. Source: Harvard Crimson, The (MA Edu)Author: Justine R. LescroartPublished: Friday, January 16, 2009 Copyright: 2009 The Harvard Crimson, Inc.Contact: letters thecrimson.comWebsite: Articles:Council Thwarts Marijuana Proposal Herb Not Necessarily a Road To Ruin 
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Comment #25 posted by tintala on January 17, 2009 at 09:54:50 PT:
They are going outa their minds trying to enforce and write tickets, i suggest they don't even entertain the idea, just don't write it, what a waste of time these cops are imposing.
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Comment #24 posted by FoM on January 17, 2009 at 08:29:37 PT
More Pot Cases Coming To Courts
Marijuana prosecutions rose by 60% in 2008, with average of 2 cases filed each day.Published: Saturday, January 17, 2009 URL:
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Comment #23 posted by FoM on January 17, 2009 at 08:25:58 PT
I didn't know that. Thank you. 
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Comment #22 posted by afterburner on January 17, 2009 at 08:02:18 PT
San Diego Is a Border Town
Border towns are notoriously intolerant of what's on the other side. Mexico, with its drug war violence and illegal immigration, is just what the border prohibitionists fear, so they cause trouble in their own state. San Diego has lots in common with Ted Nugent!
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Comment #21 posted by John Tyler on January 17, 2009 at 08:01:59 PT
I hope Obama and his staffers get the message that the people want the cannabis industry legalized. This a change we can all live with.
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Comment #20 posted by Hope on January 17, 2009 at 07:44:45 PT
San Diego
Where are the old time political cartoonists when you need them?
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Comment #19 posted by charmed quark on January 17, 2009 at 05:34:26 PT
Supreme already decided this
By refusing to hear the Garden Grove, CA, case the Supreme Court let stand the 4th District Court of Appeals ruling requiring the police to return medical marijuana to a patient.The appeals court said that California's law does not "exempt medical marijuana from prosecution under federal law ... it merely exempts certain conduct by certain persons from California drug laws." So, what we are left with is a state statutory scheme that limits state prosecution for medical marijuana possession but does not limit enforcement of the federal drug laws. State and local police can obey the mandate of 215 without conflict.San Diego's petition is already moot.
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Comment #18 posted by fight_4_freedom on January 16, 2009 at 21:58:29 PT
Can't they take a hint
The People of San Diego want Safe Access to their medicine. What don't you understand??? The People of California voted to make it legal across the state! How hard is that to understand???
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Comment #17 posted by Storm Crow on January 16, 2009 at 21:41:33 PT
San Diego- At it again!
Busy throwing away taxpayer's money in a financial crisis! County asks U.S. Supreme Court to erase state's medical marijuana law
Officials argue federal law against its use trumps state's OKBy TERI FIGUEROA - Staff Writer | Friday, January 16, 2009 6:08 PM PST ∞  San Diego County filed papers this week asking the U.S. Supreme Court to erase California's medical marijuana law, arguing that federal prohibitions outlawing the substance supersede California's law allowing sick people to use it.The county is asking the nation's highest court to overturn a state appellate court's July decision upholding the voter-approved law legalizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes."You have a conflict here between federal and state law, and we are in the middle," 5th District Supervisor Bill Horn said Friday. "What we have been asking all along is which takes precedence here. We will take it as far as we can take it and get a definitive answer."Horn's district encompasses much of North County.County officials sued the state in 2006, arguing that federal law that makes marijuana illegal should trump the 1996 passage of state Proposition 215, which legalized it for patients to use with a prescription. Patients who use marijuana say it helps them treat chronic pain.In July, California's 4th District Court of Appeal handed medical marijuana users a victory when it rejected the county's contention that the state law flies in the face of federal pot prohibitions. The appellate court found that the purpose of the federal law "is to combat recreational drug use, not to regulate a state's medical practices."In October, the California Supreme Court rejected the county's request that it review the ruling. That left the county with the option of asking the nation's highest court to step in.San Diego Deputy County Counsel Tom Bunton said the U.S. Supreme Court might decide by June if it will take the case.The county's filing was met with a thumbs down but no surprise from Adam Wolf, the lead attorney for medical marijuana patients opposed to the challenge. Wolf on Friday called the county's request "a waste" of taxpayers' money."This is an ill-fated and doomed lawsuit," Wolf said. "These are the same recycled arguments that have been rejected by the Superior Court, the Court of Appeals and the California Supreme Court.(snipped) 
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Comment #16 posted by fight_4_freedom on January 16, 2009 at 20:12:57 PT
I will always miss our old wood stove
Egore we called it. lol It's always nice to fill the stove, sit around it and reminisce. And those things can truly put out some heat, I'll tell you what!I absolutely love that movie by the way! It probably looks even better with your upgraded T.V. :)I'm just watching some Basketball. I'm a sports junkie. And there is no cure. I'm addicted for life. lolStay safe out there everybody!
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on January 16, 2009 at 19:59:21 PT
It's 5 below now and going down. It seems we are going to get more snow too. Be careful out there. Our woodstove is working overtime these days. LOL! We're watching Jurassic Park on tv. That was a good movie and it's nice to see it again. 
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Comment #14 posted by fight_4_freedom on January 16, 2009 at 19:22:24 PT
In the Top 10 once again!
We Cannabis Activists are relentless! And I LOVE IT!Let's hope they give us more than a one line answer this time.
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Comment #13 posted by fight_4_freedom on January 16, 2009 at 19:20:00 PT
Cold isn't the word
I warmed my car up for almost 20 minutes this morning before I headed off to work. And I didn't have my car fully heated up until I pulled in the parking lot at work. lolAnd now the snow is headed our way on top of these frigid temperatures. A good time for some hot chocolate and some kind herb :)
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on January 16, 2009 at 17:48:28 PT Offers 10 Ideas for Obama
Frank Greve and David Coffey, McClatchy Newspapers 
Published: Friday, January 16, 2009 Excerpt: Some winning ideas seemed fresh, such as granting citizenship to young illegal immigrants who graduate from college or serve in the military. Others, such as legalizing marijuana, have been perennials among progressives since the days when they called themselves liberals. Complete Article:
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on January 16, 2009 at 17:10:08 PT Announces Winners Announces Winners of Ideas for Change in AmericaWASHINGTON, DC -- (Marketwire) -- 01/16/09 -- today announced the winners of its Ideas for Change in America competition at an event at the National Press Club and attended by nonprofit leaders, grassroots activists, and members of the Obama campaign and incoming administration.The competition was the first nationwide grassroots response to President-elect Barack Obama's call for greater citizen participation in government, and since Election Day more than 650,000 votes have been cast for more than 7500 ideas for how the Obama administration and 111th Congress should change America.The 10 winning ideas reflect the diverse interests of the millions of people calling for change across the country, including ideas for securing universal heath care, LGBT rights, and sustainable green energy. The list of winners also includes ideas often left off of the national agenda but with powerful grassroots support, including those for restoring civil liberties, ending the prohibition on medicinal marijuana, and advancing peace through new government institutions. All winning ideas can be viewed at: Article:
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Comment #10 posted by OverwhelmSam on January 16, 2009 at 16:26:37 PT
With Every Ticket They Write
In a way, this seems like a punishment for law enforcement. They are basically being told that all you can do is write a ticket if you catch someone with pot. No need for the no-knock warrants if it's just pot, there goes the overtime pay.In Other News: Four Billion going to Byrne Grant for anti-narcotic squads. Call your Congressfool.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on January 16, 2009 at 16:12:39 PT
That's tragic. I read of a couple more people who froze to death. It's 1 here now going down to probably 10 below tonight. Going out in this weather is very dangerous. 
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Comment #8 posted by Sam Adams on January 16, 2009 at 15:48:02 PT
Another one bites the dust
ring up another one for Big Pharma, what a shame, too bad he didn't have a nice indica for bedtime:Authorities investigate freezing deathJanuary 16, 2009HAYWARD, Wis. - A man who froze to death while sleepwalking outdoors sometimes took a sleeping pill, and authorities suspect he had also been drinking before he died.Investigators found a bottle of Ambien in Timothy Brueggeman's bedroom, but they have not determined whether he took the medication on the night of his death. Brueggeman, 51, was found outside his home Tuesday morning - hours after the temperature plunged to minus 16. He was wearing only underwear and a fleece shirt, and died of hypothermia, authorities said.Sawyer County Chief Deputy Tim Zeigle said investigators believe Brueggeman may have been drinking before he died. They were awaiting test results to determine whether he had taken Ambien and alcohol together.Ambien, the most-prescribed sleeping pill in the nation, has been linked to hundreds of cases of sleepwalking, sleep-driving, and even sleep-shoplifting. Sanofi-Aventis, which makes the drug, maintains it is safe when taken correctly.ASSOCIATED PRESS 
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Comment #7 posted by observer on January 16, 2009 at 15:34:51 PT
Law Enforcement Stands Against Prohibition 
"Law enforcement organizations would help citizens and themselves by getting behind the movement to legalize marijuana."One way for law enforcement personnel to do that is to check out LEAP -- Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. http://LEAP.ccLEAP even has professional, law enforcement speakers. They are current and former police that can be invited to schools, civic clubs, festivals, events, etc. These officers will eloquently explain why prohibition is, was and will be a bad idea and isn't working. 
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on January 16, 2009 at 09:43:09 PT
That cat is not only out of the bag, it's been crawling all over them, trying to get their attention, riding their shoulders, squalling in their ears, batting their noses, and peering into their eyes for quite some time now. 
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Comment #5 posted by Hope on January 16, 2009 at 09:38:22 PT
Justine did a powerful good job.
I don't know what makes her believe that about the cigarette comparison .
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Comment #4 posted by runruff on January 16, 2009 at 09:19:37 PT
It's time to find a new boogy man!
I wonder what part of, " the cat is out of the bag", they don't understand?
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on January 16, 2009 at 08:39:00 PT
Cigarettes are much harder to quit then marijuana. I agree with you.
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Comment #2 posted by afterburner on January 16, 2009 at 08:04:47 PT
Partly true, partly misleading. Good effort though
"Schedule I is not the right place for marijuana [true] —a drug no more addictive than cigarettes." Cigarettes are highly addictive. Cannabis is not. Check the scientific medical research.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on January 16, 2009 at 07:53:05 PT
HBO Is An Open Channel This Weekend
What an amazing time we live in. HBO: We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial
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