Pubdate: Thu, 13 Nov 2008
Source: Salem News (MA)
Copyright: 2008 Eagle Tribune Publishing Company
Author: Steven S. Epstein


To the editor:

Unlike the editors of The Salem News, I do not see the vote on 
Question 2 as "puzzling considering recent history."

I expected the margin of victory to be at least 65 percent given the 
similar magnitude of support votes on non-binding public-policy 
questions around the state obtained beginning with the general 
election of 2000.

It was that year that the first petitions for marijuana law reform 
using public-policy questions appeared and won on the ballot in one 
Senate and two state representative districts. In 2002, voters in 19 
districts petitioned their representatives. In 2004, voters in Sens. 
Fred Berry and Tom McGee's districts and four House districts 
petitioned, and it was "dACopyright jA  vu all over again" in the 
election of 2006 as two more representative districts petitioned 
their representatives. These petitions passed each time with an 
average margin of 60 percent.

The Legislature had time and opportunity to enact reform legislation. 
Its final opportunity came after more than 105,000 voters petitioned 
to place the bill, now known as Question 2, before the Legislature in 
January 2008.

In March, the Joint Committee on the Judiciary held the 
constitutionally required hearing on the proposed law. The committee 
was well acquainted with the magnitude of public support for reform 
and of ways other than that presented in Question 2 to accomplish it, 
having held three hearings on the concept of marijuana 
decriminalization since 2001. The Legislature chose not to exercise 
this opportunity.

Looking in the rear-view mirror, what is puzzling is that the elected 
district attorneys didn't see the tidal wave approaching and work 
with advocates and the Legislature in passing reform sooner; thus 
saving thousands from criminal charges we now know the people do not 
want to impose upon the marijuana users among us.

Steven S. Epstein
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake