Pubdate: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Source: Saugus Advertiser (Saugus, MA)
Copyright: 2004 CommunitysNewspapers Inc.
Author: Steven S. Epstein
Note: Steven Epstein is the treasurer of the
Massachusetts Cannabis  Reform Coalition/NORML
A state affiliate of the National Organization for the
Reform of Marijuana Laws


Thank you North Shore voters for instructing Sen. Berry and Sen.
Thomas McGee, D-Lynn, "to introduce and vote for legislation making
possession of marijuana a civil violation, like a traffic ticket
instead of a criminal  offense, and requiring police to hold a person
under 18 cited for possession  until the person is released to a
parent or legal guardian or brought before a  judge." Your "Yes"  vote
is a call for a return to the common law of arrest when the offense is
  marijuana possession, which by only the greatest stretch of the
imagination can  be considered by itself to be a breach of the peace.
If enacted  by the legislature it will conserve first responders'
time. The proposed policy  also conserves the prosecution, public
counsel and judicial resources. The cost  of current policy to adjust
first responder budgets is estimated at over $24  million a year.

It gives  back to cities and towns, as with traffic tickets in
general, one half of the  fines collected on citations issued in the
town. During the  campaign you heard from "thunderers," as
conservative icon William F. Buckley  calls them, who said we must
stay the course and continue to criminally  prosecute some 12,000 or
more people each year in order to show societal  disapproval or else
marijuana use will increase and become more available. Well, it is
clear that current law reduces neither supply nor demand. Anyone who
wants  marijuana can get it.

Close to 50  percent of you have tried marijuana at least once in your
lifetimes. Most of you  never tried any other illicit drug. Almost all
are of you are good people. Some  of you are politicians.

Please call  Sen. Berry and Sen. McGee and ask them to follow the
instructions you have given  them.

Steven S. Epstein
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