Pubdate: Fri, 27 Aug 2004
Source: Abington Mariner (MA)
Copyright: 2004, Tri-Town Transcript
Author: Max Bowen
Cited: National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Marijuana activists say the people have spoken. But are the
politicians listening?

The consensus among the members of NORML, the  National Organization
for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is no, the politicians  aren't
listening. But that isn't stopping the organization from putting 
decriminalization and legalization of marijuana for medicinal uses on
the  election ballot this November.

There will be three marijuana-related  questions for the voters to
consider when they go to the polls in November,  which if passed will
be voted on by members of the House and Senate. The first  question
calls for making possession of marijuana a civil violation like a 
traffic ticket, and requiring the police to hold a person under the
age of 18  cited for possession until they are released to a parent or
legal guardian or  brought before a judge. The second is along the
same lines, and asks for the  penalty of possessing less than one
ounce of marijuana be a civil violation and  subject to maximum fine
of $100 and not subject to any criminal penalties. The  final question
asks for seriously ill patients, with their doctor's written 
recommendation, to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana for
their  personal medical use. The third question is the only one to be
decided by  politicians representing Abington.

State Rep. Kathleen Teahan, D-Whitman, says  that while she is in
favor of people with cancer or AIDS being allowed to use  marijuana,
she isn't in favor of people growing marijuana, and thinks some 
changes need to be made to the questions in order for them to pass.

" 'To be prescribed by a doctor' is what it  should say," said
Teahan. "Then I'd totally be in favor."

While she believes the third question has a  chance of passing, she
thinks the first and second don't. Teahan said that she  has not heard
from anyone who says that the penalties need to be relaxed, and 
doesn't think the penalties should be lessened until cannabis is
legalized for  medical purposes.

Jim Pillsbury, the spokesman for Metrowest  NORML, says that while
people are outwardly silent about these issues, in the  voting booths
they want to see them passed. According to Pillsbury, the  lessening
of penalties has passed by at least 60 percent everywhere the question
 has been presented, but despite this support, the House and Senate
continually  ignore these bills when they are presented to them.

"The House ignores a lot of things. They  ignore the voters, court
rulings and they may ignore this," said Pillsbury.  "They've ignored
it up until this point."

Pillsbury says the support for allowing  marijuana for medicinal use
has also received huge support from the people. The  questions being
presented are related, he said, since people who use marijuana 
medically are often arrested, even though the drug can sometimes be
their only  relief from the disease or from the treatment they have to

The movement has made some progress so far.  According to Pillsbury
over 52 cities and towns have voted in favor of lessening  the
penalties, which a lot of people have seen as a way to save money in
law  enforcement.

"The law is wasting its time by trying to  lock up pot smokers," said

For the past 12 years the organization has  been pushing the medical
issue. and for longer than the 30 years the group has  been active,
people have been working to get the penalties lessened. The group 
started polling the public four years ago to get a better idea where
their  supporters were.

At this point, Pillsbury says the fate of the  questions will depend
on who is at the helm of the House and Senate after the  election in

"The winds of change don't change very fast  anymore," said
Pillsbury, "But that doesn't stop us from doing the best we can  to
change things."

Along with the 7th Plymouth House district,  which includes Abington,
question three will also go before Worcester and  Norfolk Senate, the
third Berkshire House and the 24th Middlesex House  districts.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin