Legal Pot Debate Could Find Its Way to R.I. & Mass
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Legal Pot Debate Could Find Its Way to R.I. & Mass
Posted by CN Staff on February 24, 2011 at 19:03:22 PT
By Ronald Fraser, Ph.D.
Source: Taunton Daily Gazette 
Massachusetts -- For the time being, folks in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island can consider last November’s defeat of Proposition 19, a California ballot initiative to legalize and regulate the personal use of marijuana, as none of their business. But as this debate spreads outward from California it will, sooner or later, reach Massachusetts, Rhode Island and the rest of New England.Having started the war on marijuana, the federal government is the enforcer of the status quo — even as opinion polls show the public’s desire for change.
So, it is up to the states, one-by-one, to replace failed drug war policies with something that makes sense. To see how the future marijuana legalization debate might spread, let’s consider the work of professor Everett M. Rogers.Based on hundreds of case studies, Rogers says the launch of a new idea requires an adventuresome idea champion willing to deal with a lot of uncertainty. A handful of “early adopters” will follow suit. Then, after waiting and carefully watching what happens, the majority of the potential “late adopters” are likely to give the new idea a try. A few “laggards,” might never adopt it.  Proposition 19 nearly passed in 2010 with 46 percent of the vote. Let’s assume in 2012 a similar initiative wins 51 percent and California becomes the first state to legalize marijuana.Shortly thereafter, if Rogers is right, states already familiar with marijuana policy issues — states like Rhode Island and Massachusetts — will take a fresh look at marijuana legalization. Massachusetts citizens became familiar with marijuana issues during the debate leading up to the state officially reducing the possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use from a criminal act to a finable civil infraction. In Rhode Island, citizens became acquainted with marijuana issues during the debate leading up to approving the use of marijuana for medical purposes statewide.Other potential early adopters include Alaska and Nevada, where past attempts to legalize marijuana failed but medical marijuana laws have been adopted, and those states that have also approved medical marijuana: Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Washington State and the District of Columbia. Connecticut, New Hampshire and Minnesota passed medical marijuana bills only to have them vetoed by the governors. Other states that have reduced the possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use from a criminal act to a finable civil infraction are also early adopter candidates. In addition to several of the above states, these include Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina and Ohio. After watching what happens in these early adopter states, according to Rogers, the remaining “late adopter” states will finally consider whether or not to legalize and regulate the personal use of small amounts of marijuana in a manner similar to the way alcohol and tobacco are now regulated. The marijuana legalization debate in California is a public education process in which fear of the unknown is being replaced with understanding.  Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Drug Policy Alliance, puts it this way, “The greatest challenge is to break the taboo on vigorous, honest and open debate about all drug policy options, that’s what drug war advocates most fear.” And that is exactly the service Proposition 19 delivered last year in California. It got people talking about the issue in an open and honest way. In the weeks leading up to the vote, scores of newspapers across the state ran hundreds of news and editorial stories, some in favor and some against legalization. Millions of voters were called upon to think long and hard about the costs and benefits of legalization. As long as no one knows how to curb America’s urge to use alcohol, tobacco — or marijuana — legalization and regulation is a common sense alternative to the current, endless drug war. Wars, both foreign and domestic, are easy to start and hard to stop. For this reason, California is doing the entire nation and the people of Rhode Island and Massachusetts a great service by seeking common sense drug control policies that will greatly reduce criminal violence, increase tax revenues and permit sensible regulation of a substance that is now acquired through illicit, underground channels.Ronald Fraser, Ph.D., writes on public policy issues for the DKT Liberty Project, a Washington-based civil liberties organization.Source: Taunton Daily Gazette (MA)Author: Ronald Fraser, Ph.D.Published: February 24, 2011Copyright: 2011 Taunton Daily GazetteContact: eic tauntongazette.comWebsite: http://www.tauntongazette.comURL: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on February 25, 2011 at 05:57:49 PT
The title says it all.
US CO: Author: Racial caste system redesigned as criminal-justice system Webpage:
Pubdate: 25 Feb. 2011
Source: Denver Post (CO)Jim Crow laws that promoted segregation and stripped blacks of voting rights during the past two centuries were wiped off the books by 1960s civil-rights legislation, but they have reappeared in another guise, a race expert argued in several Denver forums this week.Michelle Alexander, a civil-rights lawyer turned scholar, said America's racial caste system didn't disappear — it's just been redesigned as the criminal-justice system.It continues to control and oppress young men of color, said Alexander, author of the 2010 book "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness."The "war on drugs," three-strikes laws and other mandatory-sentencing measures instituted since the 1980s disproportionately punish poor minorities, she said.In the past 30 years, the U.S. prison population has exploded from about 300,000 to more than 2 million, with drug convictions accounting for most of the increase. While denying any conspiracy, federal sentencing councils have nonetheless recognized that laws requiring harsher punishment for crack-cocaine possession than the powder version disproportionately affected black males, and some have been rolled back.The racial dimension, Alexander said, is the most striking feature of mass incarceration.What she calls selective prosecution has led to an astounding percentage of the African-American community being warehoused in prisons, she said.Many are imprisoned for minor drug offenses committed just as frequently by white Americans, but the laws are enforced more often against minorities, she said.Cont.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on February 25, 2011 at 05:28:55 PT
It sure is! 
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on February 24, 2011 at 23:54:40 PT
That's a new twist.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 24, 2011 at 19:07:17 PT
Minn. Bill Sees Medical Marijuana as Export Crop
February 24, 2011St. Paul, Minn. -- A Minnesota lawmaker sees an export market for medical marijuana - even though the state has never allowed its use.Rep. Phyllis Kahn introduced the Medical Marijuana Production and Export Act in the House on Thursday.The bill from the long-serving Minneapolis Democrat would authorize the cultivation and processing of marijuana for export to states and countries where its medical use is legal.Kahn proposes a system regulated by the state agriculture commissioner, where growers would have to pass background checks and account each year for all the marijuana they cultivated.The proposal says such an industry would strengthen Minnesota's economy and agriculture.The bill would shield authorized marijuana growers from penalties for possessing the drug, but there would be no legal protection for unauthorized possession or consumption of medical marijuana.Copyright: 2011 The Associated Press
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