Marijuana: Connecticut Decriminalization Bill Dead in Water Following Arrest of Activist

A bill that would have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana is effectively dead after it was filibustered by a key opponent in the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday. With an early afternoon deadline for committee action Tuesday, Sen. Toni Boucher (R-New Canaan) railed against the bill until the deadline had passed.

"This legislative body is proposing to take a substance that is proven to be unhealthy and dangerous and illegal -- schedule one drug, still so at the federal level -- putting us in direct contrast. And slap the hand of one who uses it just like another parking ticket," Boucher said. "This is just a minor step in a long progression," she added, calling marijuana a gateway drug.

The bill, SB 349 would have made the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana an infraction with a maximum $250 fine. It was supported by the legislature's Democratic leadership and the advocacy groups Efficacy and A Better Way Foundation.

While the bill appeared poised to pass last week, Boucher garnered some sympathy and attention after an officer in the newly formed Connecticut state NORML chapter got himself arrested for allegedly threatening her in an email message. Chapter vice-president Dominic Vita, a 28-year-old veteran of the Iraq war who testified in favor of the bill earlier this year, sent an e-mail in which he said he was about to "go postal" on Boucher. He was arrested on disorderly conduct charges Friday.

While national NORML quickly closed down the Connecticut chapter, the incident had fellow Republicans rallying to Boucher's defense. Connecticut NORML did not play a leading role in pushing for marijuana reform in the state -- it was only a month old -- but the incident was grist for the media mill over the weekend.

In comments posted to a local talk show host's blog, family members of Vita said he showed "poor judgment" in venting his feelings in that manner in an e-mail, but criticized the media's portrayal of it. Vita intended the e-mail to go to a friend and colleague, they explained, but accidentally used "reply" instead of "forward," sending it to the state's legislative "bill-tracker" reporting service instead. The e-mail was written in reaction to an unfavorable amendment Boucher had filed to the decrim bill, which Vita felt would prevent patients from benefiting from it. The staff person who received the e-mail forwarded it to the Capitol Police.

The talk show host, Shelly Sindland, wrote that she was "shocked" and that Vita had been "very articulate and polite" when he appeared on her show.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Of course boucher is an idiot and liar... a liartician in fact!

"This legislative body is proposing to take a substance that is proven to be unhealthy and dangerous and illegal -- schedule one drug, still so at the federal level -- putting us in direct contrast. And slap the hand of one who uses it just like another parking ticket," Boucher said. "This is just a minor step in a long progression," she added, calling marijuana a gateway drug.

The above scree would be more accurate if the drug alcohol were the topic instead of marijuana.

Q. "And slap the hand of one who uses it just like another parking ticket,"?
A. No you idiot! Just like you would for the irresponsible use of the drug alcohol... not a parking ticket. When you are ready to address your drug habit with alcohol I'll consider letting idiots like you talk to me about my safer drug of choice. Until then ignorant exceptianist authorian assholes like bouchers should shut the fuck-up before someone shoves her head permanently up her ass.

Boucher spouts propaganda nonsense.

The herbal curative gets maligned by unspecified parties in Boucher's rant against reason. A dozen states doctors and patients engaged in marijuana therapy and she is simply on another

page. Ms Boucher needs some cold water in the face. Marijuana is good medicine, not to be waylaid by her disparagement. Her ditch resort to filibuster indicates her awareness of lacking

credence or support in her minority fight.

One out of three is pretty bad

This legislative body is proposing to take a substance that is proven to be unhealthy and dangerous and illegal -- schedule one drug, still so at the federal level -- putting us in direct contrast.

I didn't see the part where the Senate proposed to take marijuana. I thought that they were only discussing decriminalizing it.

There is no truth in the statement that marijuana is unhealthy and dangerous. It is illegal. That's what the Senate was considering changing.

If the full Senate would " take" marijuana...

If the full Senate would " take" marijuana a few dozen times maybe they'd be discussing legalization. I'm thinking of the members smoking publicly under some research program's legal protection. The personal experience and knowledge combined with the public knowledge and observation of this use could make it difficult for a majority of the members to defend continued criminalization.

Just a little fantasy, of course. After so many decades of widespread use in the US and the ease of comparing relevant social/legal problems before and after criminalization (in the US as a whole and individual states) I don't really believe ignorance rather than corruption is the reason these terrible laws exist.

BTW, I think "decriminalization" is an absurd name for relatively small penalties for acts that remain illegal. The 18th Amendment had no penalties for simple possession or consumption of intoxicating liquors, didn't prohibit manufacture, sale, transportation, importation or exportation of intoxicating liquors for religious use, medical use or anything but "beverage purposes" and we call 1/16/1920-12/5/1933 Prohibition.

Medical Marijuana is not a Crime, and it's use is our right

Conn. voted to legalize medical marijuana a few years back BUT the peoples will was vetoed. Recreational use of Marijuana is a lot safer than booze, yet people are still fooled by the "facts" the government made up years ago during reefer madness. The fear of this "drug" even limits the industrial use of the plant. People die in SWAT raids, not from pot. Time to legalize...

Politicos & those like her---

She is-and always will be--an a--!!!!

filibuster

It sounds like Boucher is a little manic if you ask me.

Republicans

Well I hope the republican party loses more votes over this.

I lived in Massachusetts the

I lived in Massachusetts the last four years at college. I was there before we decriminalized and just after. Nothing changed for UMass students, we smoked pot before and continued to smoke pot after, we just didn't have the fear of getting arrested afterwords. The state sees the most of the benefits of decriminalization since they don't need to spend as much on combating something that will always be a losing battle. In fact now with a civil fine, they will generate money if they enforce it instead of losing money. Isn't this during a recession a win win situation?

Ignorance & failed policies don't help the state or its citizens

The biggest problem with marijuana laws is that are based on false findings and biased opinions that were forged by self interested parties years ago like Dupont, whom didn't want competition from hemp production, affecting the use of their chemicals to make paper from trees for example. Hemp and marijuana have proven useful for civilization for centuries in industry and as medicine. The plant is not useless and the stigma around it is propagated by self interest. The best thing would be for the federal government to regulate hemp and marijuana production and distribution appropriately so the plant can be utilized for the greater good. It is completely ignorant policy to continue to prosecute and punish citizens for marijuana use. Many countries around the world utilize the plant in industry, for medicine and yes for recreational use. The war on drugs is a failure and it is time to stop making non-violent users, etc. criminals. I really hope that the state and the Feds put an end to this nonsense.

Yet one more reason I'm packing up and leaving

I graduated with a BS in Business in Aug 2010 and was well on my way to obtaining fulltime employment and putting that degree to use.  In March 2011 I was arrested for having less than 2 grams ($30 worth) of pot in my pocket, while I was inside of my own apartment.  I am now facing possession and paraphernalia charges that could end up on my criminal record.  The fact that it's illegal in some places doesn't mean I'm going to stop using it.  Furthermore, I respect that I shouldn't have it on me in public places and do not carry it with me.  The only time I smoke pot is when I am in the privacy of my own home, or that of a friends.  Now, the police have come into my home and arrested me for doing this.  As a result, I no longer have a refuge where I can enjoy myself without having to look over my shoulder.  I have to say it's a miserable situation to be in.  It affects my sleep, my eating habits and my social life.

Due to the incident described above, I am taking my college degree and all the money CT could be collecting from me in taxes and moving to another state.  A state that respects the rights of American citizens to consume organic plants in the privacy of our own home.  Plants are what we're talking about here.  Not coke or heroin or pills; we're talking about a plant, that I like to consume in the privacy of my own home.  Now, I've had my life ruined due to an over zealous, over staffed government with too much time and money to waste. I am unable to tolerate the police being allowed to constantly try and ruin my life because they disagree with what I consume in my own privacy.  When I say ruining my life, I am referring to the debt I incur every time I have to hire an attorney, make bail and pay for court program costs for possession charges.  I am also referring to the fact that these charges will come up every time I apply for a job.  My well being is also an issue here due to the stress all this creates.  Furthermore, I fear for my safety because of the exigent circumstance suspicion of me consuming marijuana creates for the police.  God forbid I happen to be sharpening a knife while smoking pot and the police kick my door down, see the knife and shoot me dead.  Then they'd say to everyone, he was a drug user with a weapon in his hand so we were justified in breaking into his home and murdering him.  All this makes me sit back and reflect on the reasons I've put up with it for the past 15 years, I can not think of 1.

So, next time the state law makers are looking at this huge budget deficit and brain drain CT is facing please keep this posting in mind. 

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