Voters Asked To Soften Tough State Drug Laws

Voters Asked To Soften Tough State Drug Laws
Posted by FoM on November 01, 2000 at 07:51:28 PT
By Jan Cienski, National Post
Source: National Post
Drug laws are under attack in a series of ballot initiatives across the United States aiming to loosen tough regulations and allow marijuana smokers to breathe a little easier. The most radical initiative is in Alaska, which is considering a proposal to fully legalize marijuana."This is about justice and common sense," said Mitch Mitchell, a volunteer with Free Hemp in Alaska, one of the groups pushing the proposal. In 1975, Alaska's Supreme Court ruled people can have up to four ounces of marijuana in the privacy of their homes. Marijuana was recriminalized in a 1990 ballot measure, but this year decriminalization backers claim their initiative is ahead in the polls.
Opponents warn that passing the initiative would make Alaska a haven for drug tourists, a prospect Mr. Mitchell greets with equanimity."Tourists would be able to come and smoke some pot instead of drinking whisky," he said.But it is the ballot measure in California that really worries drug warriors. Voters there are being asked to drop prison terms for most non-violent drug offenders.California leads the United States with a drug offender imprisonment rate of 115 per 100,000, compared with a national average of 44.6, according to a study by the Justice Policy Institute, a San Francisco-based think-tank. The number of people sent to prison for drug possession has risen from 379 in 1980, to 12,749 in 1999."Californians instinctively understand that treatment works better than prison to address drug addiction," said Dave Fratello, who runs the California Campaign for New Drug Policies.Instead of locking them up, the initiative would sentence drug users to probation and mandatory drug treatment. Recidivists could get 30 days in jail.Backers claim the state will save more than US $1.5-billion over 10 years in reduced prison costs.Opponents argue eliminating prison amounts to legalization.Actor Martin Sheen, whose son, Charlie, nearly died of a drug overdose in 1998 and received court-ordered rehabilitation, is campaigning against the measure, along with the Drug Free America Foundation, the Betty Ford Center and law enforcement groups.Oregon, Utah and Massachusetts have initiatives that would change forfeiture laws, which allow police to seize a person's house and other assets after a drug arrest, but before a conviction.Nevada, Colorado and Florida, will vote on measures to allow medical marijuana.Source: National Post (Canada) Author: Jan Cienski Published: November 1, 2000Copyright: 2000 Southam Inc. Address: 300 - 1450 Don Mills Road, Don Mills, Ontario M3B 3R5 Fax: (416) 442-2209 Contact: letters Website: Forum: Related Articles & Web Sites:Free Hemp in AlaskaAl Anders, Chair2603 Spenard RoadAnchorage, Alaska 99503 (907) 278-HEMP E-mail: freehempinak gci.netVisit their web site: http://www.freehempinak.orgHemp 2000R.L. Marcy, ChairP.O. Box 90055Anchorage, AK 99509907-376-2232 (p)Fax: 907-376-0530 (f)E-mail: marcy hemp2000.orgVisit their web site: Justice Policy Institute Campaign For New Drug Policy War Won't End Issue Can End Wrong, Ineffective Marijuana Ban At The Root of Radio Ad Battle Articles - Proposition 36:
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Comment #1 posted by legalizeit on November 01, 2000 at 12:16:20 PT
hypocrite celebs
>Actor Martin Sheen, whose son, Charlie, nearly died of a drug overdose in 1998 and received court-ordered rehabilitation, is campaigning against the measureI wonder if Mr. Sheen would be campaigning against this if his son were in jail now or awaiting a jail sentence? (Actually if his son weren't a white celebrity he would have gone to jail.) Guess daddy wants to keep the po'folks locked up.>Opponents argue eliminating prison amounts to legalization.If only...!
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