Marijuana: Decriminalization Bills Filed in Massachusetts, New Hampshire

Twelve states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon) have enacted some form of marijuana decriminalization, all of them during the 1970s, but if legislators in Massachusetts and New Hampshire have their way, that number will grow again this year for the first time in decades. In the former, friendly legislators are reintroducing a decrim bill, while in the latter, a local group is allying with legislators to push new legislation.

In Massachusetts, Senate Bill 881, sponsored by Sen. Pat Jehlen, with four cosponsors, is a refilling of a bill that was approved last year in the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee. It specifies a civil penalty for the possession of one ounce of less of marijuana of $250.

The Massachusetts effort builds on years of work by the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts and the Bay State NORML affiliate, MassCann. The two groups have brought ballot questions urging their representatives to support various marijuana reform measures before more than 400,000 Bay State voters, and won every one of them. It remains to be seen if the popular support for reform can be translated into a new decrim law.

In New Hampshire, a new grassroots group, the Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy is urging support for HB 92, which was set for a Wednesday hearing in the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

"Despite the threat of severe penalties, many responsible, productive New Hampshire citizens continue to use marijuana. As long as these individuals do not harm others, we believe it is unwise and unjust to continue persecuting them as enemies of the state," the group declared.

Hopeful that the Granite State's "Live Free or Die" motto will resonate with their peers, Reps. Chuck Weed (D-Keene), Paul Ingbretson (R-Haverill), and Steve Vailancourt (R-Manchester) sponsored the bill. But even though Democrats took over both houses in the November elections, the measure's chances are uncertain. It will be opposed by the usual suspects in law enforcement and the Attorney General's office. The fate of a 2001 medical marijuana bill, which was overwhelmingly defeated, also signals potential problems.

Still, despite a decades-long hiatus since the decrim glories of the Carter years, legislators in at least two states will have the opportunity to renew a long dormant reform movement.

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Way to go, Chuck

Way to go, Chuck Weed!


Bud Green

The 100 Year War on Reason

What does it mean to represent the American people? What do the American people expect from their representatives? How well do you feel your Representatives in Congress are doing the job of representing you, your children, your future? How much longer are we as a people going to allow the two party system of Democrats and Republicans to prevent any real changes in the fabric of our society? When each party pulls its Freshmen Representatives and Legislators into private sessions and tells them they are going to vote the party line or be opposed in the next elections by the party itself, what real change can be expected from them? Such a state of affairs creates an atmosphere in which each party must steadfastly and consistently denounce the other parties’ ideas as a matter of course, regardless of the merits to be found in the oppositions ideas.

What does the future hold for an America trapped in a 100+ year war on drugs and facing the reality that we have never even been close to winning? How many futures have been lost or compromised by the tendency of the judiciary to throw the harshest sentences at non-violent crimes and a penal system that plays favorites with murderers, rapists and pedophiles? I believe that there are very simple things that can be done that would provide incredible results in a timescale of weeks and months rather than years and decades!!!

Imagine if you will a national drug policy that would immediately take billions of dollars out of the hands of Hostile Governments, Terrorists, Organized Crime Cartels, Gangs, and corrupt Politicians, Peace Officers, Judges and Lawyers and put that money into practical use by the people and for the people! Imagine a policy that would allow for an evolution in the tax code making it possible to eradicate the property tax on U.S. citizens and for the first time in the history of our country provide Americans the opportunity to truly own the property they have paid for. Imagine a public policy that would provide for the downtrodden, the weak, the elderly and the mentally disabled and addicted, without demanding that more capable and or responsible American’s be held back by being made to pay for those that can’t or won’t pay for themselves.. Imagine a national drug policy that made sense and created results that could be immediately seen and felt throughout the country and the classes!!!

All of these things are completely possible, but not until we shed some very old and destructive ideas. The first and most damaging belief that neither Republicans nor Democrats seem to be willing to let go, is the idea that you can control an addictive commodity by criminalizing it. For over 100 years we as a nation have continued to believe that by making the most addictive commodities illegal to possess or distribute that we can eradicate the desire for the commodity itself. When that has failed to work we have continued the lunacy by increasing the fines and penalties for dealing in addictive commodities. However, all that these laws have done is increase the demand and the supply by making addictive commodities so lucrative that even people not considering such wares from a point of desperation have been hard pressed to stay away from them. Furthermore the policy trend has brought about an open fear and deep-seated contempt for police officers and law enforcement agencies that have had to become paramilitary organizations to keep up with the gangs and cartels that these policies have created!!!

Imagine what the reality of decriminalization for addictive commodities would be. I am referring to ALL ADDICTIVE COMMODITIES. If marijuana, heroin, cocaine and other such addictive commodities were decriminalized, HEAVILY taxed and the proceeds for those commodities were used to eradicate the property tax, several things could be reasonably expected to immediately follow. First and foremost, terrorists, organized crime cartels and gangs would lose control of the most lucrative commodities the world has ever known and the best market for such commodities in the world. Property values in the United Sates would soar, and agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Agency that cost American taxpayers billions of dollars annually without providing comparable results could be closed down. Last year the D.E.A.’s budget was two and one half Billion dollars. How many busses, computers, textbooks, and other educational expenses could that single budget pay for? How many addicts could be brought back to a more productive and healthy lifestyle with an annual budget of 2.5 billion dollars?

How many Americans are arrested and given criminal records each and every day as a result of our current policies? Between January 12, 2005 and September 30, 2005, there were 4,396 Federal offenders sentenced for marijuana-related charges in U.S. Courts. Think about that for a moment, almost 4,400 people incarcerated just on federal charges and only related to marijuana, in only 9 months! California alone averages 400,000 drug related arrests every year. What would the national impact of immediately ceasing such arrests be? It is time to use public policies at state and federal levels to moderate the use of the most damaging and destructive substances while using the proceeds to help those who want to quit get all the help and care they require to get clean and stay clean.

History has given us all the lessons we should require on this subject. The criminalization of alcohol created the highest crime and murder rates known to this country until the cartels and gangs made addictive commodities their stock in trade. Now with our National Security threatened by the liquidity of such commodities and the attraction of terrorists to such revenue streams, the war on drugs must be ended to prevent inadvertently aiding the terrorist war against western civilization. It is time to control the commodities and the proceeds in the only manner possible. By legalizing the sale and distribution of these commodities through state controlled and federally monitored retailers and taxing these commodities 300% or more.

The United States of America could see crime rates drop as much as 50%, possibly more within one year, and I would also expect the same rate of decrease in the national murder rate within a mere matter of months. The men and woman who represent us and our individual states owe it to each constituent to have an honest debate about this issue and to shed the ignorance and fear that has cost so many Americans their lives and the freedom of so many citizens for over 100 years and counting.

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