Live Free or Die, But Don’t Touch That Plant
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Live Free or Die, But Don’t Touch That Plant
Posted by CN Staff on December 28, 2018 at 16:56:26 PT
By Naomi Martin, Globe Staff
Source: Boston Globe
New Hampshire -- Live free or die. Unless, that is, your idea of freedom involves marijuana.New Hampshire’s libertarian streak has long been a source of pride for residents, but for cannabis users, that self-image isn’t living up to reality. With pot legalization sweeping through New England, New Hampshire is now an island of prohibition. “The only thing libertarian about our state is the motto,” said Greg Raymond, 30, a ski resort server in Whitefield. “Now it’s become an embarrassing motto: ‘Live free or die, but don’t touch that plant.’ ”
Even as carloads of New Hampshire residents head to Massachusetts, where five recreational pot stores have opened since November, Governor Chris Sununu is staunchly opposing legalization, declaring it “the next major battle” and recruiting a lobbyist to help him spread the message that legal pot would hurt the state’s efforts to fight its devastating opioid crisis.“What we are facing in the next six months is the most significant, substantive change potentially to the negative, I believe . . . to what we’ve been doing” on the opioid front, Sununu told a state drug-abuse panel on Dec. 14, according to the Concord Monitor. “The states who have fallen to it kind of have not pushed back strongly on it.”Sununu’s spokesman did not make him available for an interview or respond to multiple requests for comment.Unlike Rhode Island, whose governor recently said the tiny state could be driven by peer pressure into legalizing the drug soon, Sununu wants to hold out against the rising political tide. His state is surrounded on all sides by Vermont, Canada, Maine, and Massachusetts — all of which have legalized marijuana.Though it’s a relatively short drive for New Hampshire residents to get to a place where they could lawfully purchase marijuana, it’s a federal crime to bring the drug across state lines.Next month, control of the New Hampshire House and Senate will shift to Democrats, whose platform calls for cannabis legalization.State Representative Renny Cushing, a Democrat, has proposed a bill that would legalize and regulate cannabis. The measure is cosponsored by 11 other lawmakers, including Senator John Reagan, a Republican, and Senator Martha Hennessey, a Democrat.Sununu has vowed to veto any legalization bill that comes to his desk, so lawmakers in each chamber would need a two-thirds majority to override him.“That will be the battle,” said Matt Simon, a Manchester resident and New England political director with the Marijuana Policy Project. “It’s in the realm of possibility. The governor seems to agree, which is why he says he’s waging this campaign.”To keep marijuana illegal, Sununu has enlisted the national antimarijuana activist Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug policy analyst who founded Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group that advocates against legalization.Sabet said he will work with Sununu to publicize his message that cannabis today is more potent and addictive than “your grandpa’s marijuana” and that legalization is being pushed by companies that seek profits over health and safety.“We know that Big Tobacco and Big Pharma are morphing into Big Marijuana, so we’re going to be working together to get that information out to the citizens of New Hampshire,” Sabet said. “At a time when New Hampshire is grappling with the opioid crisis, the last thing the state needs is more access to more drugs.”New Hampshire ranks second in the country for opioid overdose deaths, with a rate nearly triple the US average, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 2016, 437 people died of opioid overdoses — three times 2013’s death toll, a rise that experts attribute to fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid.Sununu, a Republican and, at 44 years old, the nation’s youngest governor, has aligned himself with law enforcement and the state’s police chiefs, who this month voted overwhelmingly to oppose legalization.“In our eyes, it’s still a gateway drug and it’s not something that I want my child or grandchild going, ‘Oh, it’s OK now,’ ” said Pat Sullivan, executive director of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police. “We have a huge opioid crisis. Not everyone that uses marijuana turns to opioids, but I would guess that the vast majority of people addicted to opioids may have started with marijuana.”Research has shown a correlation between cannabis legalization and a reduction of opioid use. Two papers published in April in the Journal of the American Medical Association analyzed more than five years of federal prescription data and found that states that legalized marijuana saw drops in daily opioid doses and prescriptions. In 2014, a JAMA paper reported that states with medical marijuana had nearly 25 percent fewer opioid overdose deaths. New Hampshire began opening medical dispensaries in 2016, and the state’s medical cannabis program has about 7,120 patients enrolled.Simon, with the Marijuana Policy Project, said legalization would have a positive effect on the opioid crisis because some drug users find cannabis eases withdrawal symptoms. Plus, he said, fewer pot smokers would be going to drug dealers, where they could be introduced to harder drugs.“Marijuana’s already ubiquitous in New Hampshire, and it’s completely unregulated,” Simon said. “This would take hundreds of millions of dollars out of criminals’ pockets and divert them into a regulated marketplace where it would create jobs and produce tax revenue.”Currently in New Hampshire, marijuana possession up to three-quarters of an ounce is decriminalized — punishable with a fine.Nearly all the states, including Massachusetts, that have legalized marijuana have done so through voter ballot initiatives. New Hampshire’s political system does not allow for that option, Simon said. This year, Vermont became the first state to pass legalization — just possession, not retail sales, regulation, or taxes — through a legislature.New Hampshire’s political isolation on the issue is notable considering that in 2014, the state’s House became the first legislative chamber nationwide to pass a cannabis legalization bill. It later died in the Senate.The issue is gaining political momentum, said Steve Marchand, a former Portsmouth mayor and Democrat who ran for governor against Sununu twice.When Marchand first ran in 2016 and supported legal marijuana, “People thought I had two heads,” he said. “In the last two years, there’s been a realization on the part of many politicians across the aisle that not only was it good public policy, but it was politically a comfortable place to go.”House Speaker Steve Shurtleff, a Democrat, said the chamber would have the votes to override Sununu’s veto, and he predicted the Senate would, too. He said the governor should quit fighting and spend the next few months working with lawmakers on how best to regulate the drug.“It’s going to pass,” Shurtleff said. “It’s burying our head in the sand to think that if we continue to make it illegal in New Hampshire that people won’t be using marijuana.”But Representative Patrick Abrami, a Republican who this year chaired Sununu’s commission to study marijuana legalization, said the governor’s veto would probably withstand a vote to overturn.About 68 percent of the state wants cannabis legalized, a 2017 University of New Hampshire poll found. But Abrami, who opposes legalization, believes that claims of its popularity are overblown. The polls, he said, “never ask the second question: ‘Would you want a marijuana store in your town?’ ”He acknowledged the cash-strapped state with no income tax could benefit from the tax revenue from pot sales, but his commission decided, “We shouldn’t do it for the money.”For marijuana advocates, it’s a puzzling dichotomy for a government that embraces sales of liquor — which they argue is more dangerous than marijuana — through state-run stores.“The hypocrisy is through the roof,” said Raymond, the ski resort server. “All our borders are shared with people who have legalized, and we’re just not. It feels like we’re living in Alabama.”Source: Boston Globe (MA)Author: Naomi Martin, Globe StaffPublished: December 28, 2018Copyright: 2018 Globe Newspaper CompanyContact: letter globe.comWebsite: http://www.bostonglobe.comURL: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on January 05, 2019 at 18:02:29 PT
Jughead guessing game? Why? Because they can.
“In our eyes, it’s still a gateway drug and it’s not something that I want my child or grandchild going, ‘Oh, it’s OK now,’ ” said Pat Sullivan, executive director of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police. “We have a huge opioid crisis. Not everyone that uses marijuana turns to opioids, but I would guess that the vast majority of people addicted to opioids may have started with marijuana.”
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Comment #3 posted by afterburner on December 31, 2018 at 10:12:32 PT
Hope #2
Amen, Sis!Also, Kevin Sabet plays a broken record about Big Marijuana. If you really want to stop "Big Marijuana" Kevin, then support the activists' quest for small scale cannabis, craft and organic.
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on December 30, 2018 at 15:02:21 PT
Prohibitionist are minions to a lie. A big lie!
They have always served a lie and they still do. It's scary how their brains are taken over and their consciences are truly "Seared over"... in the Biblical sense. Big time. I guess it's not unnatural for them to be afraid to step up and take responsibility for the failure and injustice of their beloved prohibition of cannabis. It is hard to say, "I was wrong. I didn't know. I didn't really understand". But they can't heal and be a really decent human being with compassion for their fellow man unless they do that. Nobody said it would be easy. It is apparently very easy to persecute others, especially those they can look down on. They apparently like to have someone they like to whup on for some ungodly and unreasonable reason. A shame they don't feel like that about real crime, like murder, rape, and theft. There's something really sick about going after people that just want to feel better by using a plant. It's sick. Those who want to keep cannabis prohibited are emotionally, mentally, and spiritually sick. They are a truly nasty bunch. No doubt it. Look what they've done. Look what they've accomplished. Yet they carry on. Refusing to accept the truth of their awful mistake. Why didn't they know? Why didn't they know when that first body fell?There's not as many that just follow it all blindly, like there used to be, but they still exist. They've been so thoroughly brainwashed and indoctrinated into something that they think elevates them above others. It doesn't. It just looks like an open window into their stupidity. They apparently cling to their misguided beliefs because they caused great grief to people they were supposed to love and care about. They can't say they were wrong... because then they would have to take some responsibility for the hardship and real grief they have caused. Oh my gosh! They might have to say they are sorry! That's not easy for those who elevate themselves above others.When their kid or relative or neighbor got busted and committed suicide, went to a cage, or lost everything... including their future... they were able to think it wasn't their fault and they could blame the evil plant. They should have been there to support the people they supposedly cared about. But they weren't. They threw stones at them, too. Their self-righteousness keeps telling them they weren't responsible for the suicides, deaths, and imprisonments that were a direct result of prohibition. They want to blame cannabis or the person that dared to not obey an unjust law. They're wrong. Many will go to their graves, and reward, if any, believing in their own self-righteousness and lies. Prohibitionists, the remaining ones, aren't helping or protecting anyone with their support of a bad, bad law. I wish the scales of hatred, arrogance, pride, and fear would fall from their eyes and they could really see.
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Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on December 29, 2018 at 09:42:02 PT
Boston Globe
haven't we come a long way? This formerly hardcore Prohibitionist newspaper now has friendly writers covering the issue and making fun of New Hampshire. Happy Green New Year!
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