State Considers Decriminalizing Pot

State Considers Decriminalizing Pot
Posted by CN Staff on March 24, 2009 at 17:02:22 PT
By Ken Dixon, Staff Writer
Source: Connecticut Post
Hartford, C.T. -- The legislative push began Tuesday for a Massachusetts-style law to decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, making it punishable by a small fine and removing the lifetime stigma of a misdemeanor arrest. Led by Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, the bill would save the state an estimated $11 million a year in police, court and incarceration costs and produce about $320,000 in revenue from fines.
More than a dozen people, including college students and drug-policy advocates, from throughout the state testified in favor of the legislation during an afternoon-long hearing before the powerful Judiciary Committee.If approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. M. Jodi Rell - who last year vetoed legislation to allow medical uses of marijuana - Connecticut would join a dozen other states with reduced penalties for marijuana kept for personal use.But Chief States Attorney Kevin Kane said that there are as many as five programs that divert small-time users from state prisons and that current law essentially decriminalizes small-time possession.Kane contested that even Looney's definition of a "small" amount of marijuana is flawed, because an ounce -- about 28 grams -- is a hefty weight among cannabis users that commands prices in the hundreds of dollars.Looney said that he submitted the bill after an overwhelming, 65-percent statewide referendum last November in Massachusetts made the penalty for less than a ounce punishable by the equivalent of a traffic violation of no more than $120.He said that legislative researchers have found that about 3,200 arrests a year occur under the statute that makes possession of a four ounces of pot a misdemeanor, so they estimated that a quarter of those would include defendants with an ounce or less.Looney said that in Massachusetts, an estimated $30 million a year would be saved in law enforcement costs because of the referendum, so the $11 million seems a good estimate since Connecticut is less than half the size of our northern neighbor.He said there are currently 1,300 people on probation for misdemeanor possession, so researchers estimated a $425,000 savings there. In addition, there are 57 prison inmates serving possession sentences.In 2007, there were 9,928 misdemeanor possession arrests - 7 percent of total arrests statewide -- and about a third of them were for amounts less than an ounce, Looney said quoting legislative staff.Rep. Arthur O'Neill, R-Southbury, ranking member of the committee, said that it appears the state's laws for simple possession are tantamount to decriminalizing it. "It seems like we're only codifying current practice, which is almost no one goes to jail for marijuana," O'Neill said. Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, said marijuana is a "gateway" drug that leads to narcotics."If we decriminalize marijuana, would that not have the effect of encouraging drug dealers?" asked Sen. John A. Kissel, R-Enfield, ranking committee member."I don't think it would necessarily alter consumption patterns," Looney responded. "People are either going to use the substance or not, based upon other factors in their lives, but I think what it would really do, as the people in Massachusetts were persuaded, is it will save the casual user from having a criminal record that will follow him throughout his whole life for something that is I think a very minor offense that is more properly treated as an infraction rather than a criminal violation."James Meickle, a member of Central Connecticut State University's chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, said that prescription drugs are being easily diverted for recreational use that have much more potential for health damage than marijuana.Rep. Michael P. Lawlor, D-East Haven, who teaches at the University of New Haven, said that while students are fairly routine victims of mixing pills and alcohol and end up in emergency rooms, while marijuana users don't end up hospitalized.Source: Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, CT)Author: Ken Dixon, Staff WriterPublished: March 24, 2009Copyright: 2009 MediaNews Group, IncContact: edit ctpost.comWebsite: Articles:Legislators Discuss Changes To Marijuana Law Connecticut Should Legalize Marijuana
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on March 25, 2009 at 06:26:20 PT
Over the last few years we have seen vegetables getting people sick so we need to do something. Can you imagine my shock when I was told that milk trucks also haul hazardous material. They flush them out but residue will still stick. No one wants diseased fruit and vegetables to go unchecked but people growing their own vegetables will not contaminate the produce because it stays local. 
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on March 25, 2009 at 06:19:33 PT
What they're trying to do... I think..
is create a new more powerful food police, a new, bigger more powerful agency... inspectors and methods, which it looks like we might need. The FDA hasn't really got time to do it, apparently, what with all the pharma duties.It's a huge bill... and I'm sure somewhere it probably says "no compost"... but I couldn't find anything exactly like that.They better not waste time and money inspecting home gardens. It could get dirty... and pitch forky. I can just see it now. 'Grandmother, armed with garden hoe, tasered as she tried to chase fertilizer inspector out of her garden.'
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on March 24, 2009 at 19:16:11 PT
I really do not know what they are trying to do. I believe people who have farm land and grow a vegetable garden and share some with friends and neighbors should be left alone. I am familiar with produce since my husband hauled it from Mexico (at the Nogales, NM border) to Pittsburgh and from Florida to California and to Connecticut. The produce we consume needs to be policed better then I ever saw it was. We don't need people who buy produce getting sick. That area needs food police. 
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on March 24, 2009 at 18:33:34 PT
Family farmers work hard to grow their own vegetables and use seeds saved from the previous year. I think this is ok to say.You can have my seeds when you pry them from my cold dead hands.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on March 24, 2009 at 18:16:26 PT
This is crazy
House and Senate will vote on bill to end organic gardening... is an enormous rush to get this into law within the next 2 weeks 
before people realize what is happening.The bill is proposed by Rep. Laura DeLauro whose husband works for Monsanto.
 The bill will require organic farms to use specific fertilizers and poisonous insect sprays dictated by the newly formed agency to "make sure there is no danger to the public food supply".
    This will include backyard gardens that grow food only for a family, not for sales.There is a video on the subject: May Be Arrested Soon For Growing A TomatoeAs our government hands over billions to Wall Street bankers, jobless Americans live in tent cities and collect food stamps in record numbers. Now when we need it the most, growing our own food may be against the law and punishable by a fine of up to $1,000,000. Think I’m joking? Meet Bill HR 875, The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, introduced by Rosa DeLauro whose husband Stanley Greenburg works for Monsanto. The insanity doesn’t stop there—fishing boats, hotdog stands, neighborhood vegetable booths and farmers’ markets will be federally regulated under the same draconian law. As always, the spin is designed to make you (the public) believe these new provisions are for your own good. Under the deceitful guise of protection, the goal of this bill is crystal clear: to prevent us from locally growing our own food so multinational agribusiness can completely control the production and distribution of our food supply. I refer you to the usual suspects—Monsanto, ADM, Sodexo, Tyson, and Smithfield.
This bill is designed to allow corporations, with the help of their hired government guns, to force small competitors (you and me) out of business. This is as evil as it gets, folks. Since the dawn of man we have hunted and farmed our own food——it’s second nature. To be stripped of the most fundamental act of survival is equivalent to the kind of mass enslavement you only read about in history books, like the kind under Pharaohs in ancient Egypt. FULL STORY
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