Pubdate: Thu, 23 Sep 2004
Source: Reorgetown Record (Beverly,  MA)
Address: 72 Cherry Hill St., Beverly, MA 01915
Copyright:  2004 Community Newspapers Inc.
Author: Steven S. Epstein
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


I understand the term  "citizen legislator" to refer to a
representative in a state like New Hampshire  where they receive
little pay and work only a few months each year.  Massachusetts
legislators work almost year round and receive a salary and  benefits
package worth well over $50,000 per year. A true  citizen politician
would eschew campaign contributions from Political Action  Committees,
PACs, because of the influence buying it implies.

Her campaign  committee's reports available on line at reveal thousands  in contribution from public
and private sector PACs, whose members depend  directly or indirectly
on state spending.

She understands their issues and with  her Democratic colleagues in
the legislature delivers results for them. Now they  are helping her
recover the more than $29,000 she loaned her campaign in  2002.

As for her  being a "responsive leader," in 2002, the 18th Essex voted
to repeal the  personal income tax and for legislation making
possession of marijuana a civil  violation.

More than 1,000 more voters favored the marijuana instruction than
voted for Ms. L'Italien. Yet this "responsive leader" ignores our
advice on  marijuana policy and her voting record indicates she is a
spendthrift with our  money.

I will  blank the ballot before I will vote for a politician who
believes it good policy  to handcuff and criminally prosecute
marijuana users. As  serendipity would have it, a second letter very
much related to the foregoing  appeared in the pages of the Record,
Mr. Collins' criticism of my avocation. A more  gifted word-smith than
I, Conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr. recently  wrote,
"thunderers who tell us to stay the course can always find one man or
woman who, having taken marijuana, moved on to severe mental disorder.
. . .  General rules based on individual victims are unwise.

And although there is a  perfectly respectable case against using
marijuana, the penalties imposed on  those who reject that case, or
who give way to weakness of resolution, are very  difficult to defend.

If all our laws were paradigmatic, imagine what we would do  to anyone
caught lighting a cigarette, or drinking a beer. Or - exulting in life
  in the paradigm - committing adultery.

Send them all to Guantanamo?" ("Free  Weeds," National Review, June
29-July 12, 2004 online at
Marijuana  use by children is wrong, but adults should be able to make
that choice without  fearing criminal sanction.

As Mr. Buckley describes the current situation,  "Today we have
illegal marijuana for whoever wants it. An estimated 100 million
Americans have smoked marijuana at least once, the great majority,
abandoning  its use after a few highs.

But to stop using it does not close off its  availability. A Boston
commentator observed years ago that it is easier for an  18-year old
to get marijuana in Cambridge than to get beer. Vendors who sell  beer
to minors can forfeit their valuable licenses. . . . . Still, there is
the  danger of arrest (as 700,000 people a year will tell you), of
possible  imprisonment, of blemish on one's record.

The obverse of this is increased  cynicism about the

As for  speculation that there will be more users if we reform the
marijuana laws Mr.  Buckley wrote, "Such reforms would hugely increase
the use of the drug? Why? It  is de facto legal in the Netherlands,
and the percentage of users there is the  same as here. The Dutch do
odd things, but here they teach us a lesson." The  fundamental
principals of the constitution and those of justice, moderation and
frugality demand a reassessment of current marijuana policy.

A majority of the  voters of Georgetown agree that the criminal
prosecution of 14,000 in the  commonwealth each year at a cost of $24
million in this age of terror is not  money well spent.

The results in Georgetown are no fluke, a majority of voters  in 51
other Massachusetts communities agree.

They rationally conclude that it  would be better to treat marijuana
possession as a civil violation punishable by  a monetary fine, with
that fine split, like a speeding ticket, between the state  and the
municipality in which the offense occurs.

They agree that when a child  is caught with marijuana the child's
parents or legal guardian be made aware of  it and advised of what
assistance is available, besides criminal punishment, to  prevent
their child from repeating their disobedience of parental rule and
law.  The questions on the ballot elsewhere this fall will add to what
Mr. Buckley  calls "a genuine republican groundswell" calling for
marijuana law  reform.
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MAP posted-by: Derek