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***Update*** – Nov 5, 2008 – Massachusetts is now the 13th state to decriminalize Cannabis (marijuana) and Michigan is the 13th state to legalize Cannabis as medicine! Read more on a post from NORML.

Headline: March 18.2008 MA: Lawmakers Consider Marijuana Legalization (Actually, the headline should read “Decriminalization” – more on the difference later)

maflag.gifMembers of the Massachusetts legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary are considering change in their state’s law on Cannabis possession, constitutionally bound to address an initiative brought by the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy(CSMP). The legislature has until May 6 to pass the initiative and send it to the governor, draft its own version to place on the ballot, or take no action and allow CSMP to continue the initiative process.

The initiative, House bill No.  4468, is titled “An Act Establishing a Sensible Marijuana Policy for the Commonwealth.”

csmp.jpg“By creating a civil penalty system for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, the initiative will greatly reduce the human and financial costs of current laws.  Massachusetts’ taxpayers spend $29.5 million a year just to arrest and book these offenders.  Even more costly is the creation of a criminal record for the approximately 7,500 offenders arrested every year”, stated Whitney A.  Taylor, campaign manager for CSMP

Predictably, the wailing and gnashing of teeth has begun, as seen in this video of a MA state representative regurgitating the “gateway drug” myth and even suggesting that alcohol could be prohibited again. This video provided by The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition (MASS CANN):MA State Rep- Martin “Mental Institution” Walsh on Decrim

Ironically, the only way Cannabis (marijuana) can be considered a “gateway drug” is in the context of its’ prohibition. That is, to obtain marijuana, one must contact a dealer in the “black market” – exposing one to the whole gamut of illegal drugs. If it were legal, no such connection need be made. Indeed, in European countries where Cannabis is legal or decriminalized, its’ use among teenagers is lower than in the U.S. Every American teen knows that it’s easier to buy marijuana than beer.

mag.jpgScientifically, it has been shown that physically addictive drugs like tobacco and alcohol actually wire the brain for addiction, especially in the young, thereby setting the stage for more addictions.  Real world data shows that marijuana users tend to not use hard drugs. Unfortunately, drug testing is driving more and more people to narcotics like methamphetamine, cocaine and alcohol, as these drugs pass out of the system quickly – enabling one to keep ones’ job.

A legimate concern for the citizens of Massachusetts is law and order, as some think that prohibition keeps crime down – contrary to logic and experience. leap.jpgOrganized crime; drive-by shootings; corruption of law enforcement and other government institutions; impure, contaminated products; lack of respect for the law – all these societal horrors were experienced during alcohol prohibition and our “drug war” alike.

 Jack Cole, a former undercover narcotics officer and an original signer of the initiative, is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and will be testifying at the hearing for MA House bill 4468. Dean Becker of the Drug Truth Network interviewed Jack Cole for this video:Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Interview

 If Massachusetts decriminalizes marijuana, it will join twelve states that have done so since 1973. Amazingly, civilization has endured and life goes on in these states.

Meanwhile, north of the boarder in New Hampshire…

 Headline:March 19.2008 – N.H. House OKs Marijuana Billnhempshire.jpgSparked by a backlash against tragic consequences resulting from the Higher Education Act (HEA), New Hampshire’s House of Representatives has voted to decriminalize possession of up to a quarter-ounce of marijuana (Cannabis). Currently, possession is a criminal misdemeanor that can result in up to a year in county jail and/or fines up to $2,000. If  HB 1623 makes it past the state Senate over the opposition of Governor Lynch, citizens of New Hampshire would  face a $200 fine for a 1/4 ounce or less.

“Our representatives in the House did the right thing for New Hampshire and especially for New Hampshire’s young people”, said Matt Simon of the NH Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy.

The New Hampshire Coalition has been working for three years to change state marijuana laws, but an infamous “drug warrior”- Rep. Mark Souder (R)IN, author of overreaching and unfair provisions in the HEA, is getting some of the credit for drawing attention to inequities needing remedy. The fact that a college student can lose access to student loans for a minor drug violation, while perpetrators of much more serious crimes face no such penalty,  is an inequity in dire need of correction and has been opposed byssdp.gif Students For Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and many other education advocacy organizations.

 SSDP has a Students for Sensible Drug Policy “Channel” on You Tube that features videos educating the public about the HEA provisions, including this one from the viewpoint of Rep. Mark Souder:Mark Souder expresses his love for NORML and SSDP

The Ridley Report on You Tube has several videos folowing this issue in New Hamphire:NH: State House passes marijuana decrim, but…

It is important to remember that alcohol was decriminalized during all of the prohibition of the 1920’s, so decrim’ is certainly not a satisfactory conclusion to Cannabis law reform.  (Decriminalization means that only dealers and manufacturers of a substance face criminal prosecution, whereas users face “only” fines, somtimes quite substantial.)

Many drug warriors will assert that few people go to jail just for small amounts of pot. Although these arrests/prosecutions are wildly arbitrary throughout America,  there is a “de facto” acceptance of decriminalization, even in non-decrim states.  In fact, the large fines Americans shell out for pot “offences” fill county coffers and long probations ensure warm bodies for the prohibition/industrial complex to consume for years to come. 

The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the Prohibition law. albert.jpgFor nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this.
Albert Einstein, My First Impression of the U.S.A., 1921

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3 Comments

  1. Wonderful videos and commentary. I find it astounding that given that some 100 million Americans have been or currently are drug users that more has not been done to undo the hypocrisy and propaganda of 100 years of hysterical and abominable drug war.

    It’s up to YOU to do something to end this new inquistion.

  2. Thanks for posting the blog. Great job.

    More video from the hearings in MASS has been posted at youtube.com/mikecann

  3. I wrote this is 1763, “We shall by and by want a world of hemp more for our own consumption.”


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  1. […] Marijuana Policy says that 71% of MA’s voters already support “Question 2″. (See our previous post from this spring), claiming wide based, mainstream recognition of the need for change. Economist Jeffrey Miron of […]

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