Pubdate: Wed, 10 Nov 2004
Source: Swampscott Reporter (Marblehead, MA)
Copyright: 2004 Swampscott Reporter
Author: Steven S. Epstein, Esq.


To the editor:

Thank you, North Shore voters for instructing Mr. Berry and Mr. McGee
"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 prosecutorial, public counsel
and judicial resources. The cost of current policy to just
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 Mr. Berry and Mr. McGee and ask them to follow the
instructions you have given them.

Steven S. Epstein, Esq.


Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition/NORML

A state affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of
Marijuana Laws 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake