Pubdate: Mon, 25 Feb 2008
Source: Concord Monitor (NH)
Copyright: 2008 Monitor Publishing Company
Author: Jack Ricker


For the Monitor February 25, 2008

I am writing to inform the public about HB 1623, the bill to reduce 
penalties for marijuana possession. As a taxpayer, I believe our 
limited law enforcement resources should be spent fighting serious crime.

This is not an effort to legalize marijuana, just to reduce penalties 
so the punishment comes closer to fitting the offense.

Twelve states have decriminalized marijuana since 1973, so it's not 
as if we'd be going first. (Oregon went first in 1973; Nevada was 
most recent in 2001.) The federal government has not interfered.

Does saddling a young (or older) person with a criminal record serve 
the interests of society? Will individuals be better off for having 
been arrested?

If harsh penalties are really a deterrent, why haven't states like 
Maine (where it's been a violation since 1976) experienced elevated 
rates of use? (They haven't.)

Society can discourage marijuana use without criminalizing 
responsible users. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition has a saying 
that applies strongly to this bill: "You can get over an addiction, 
but you can't get over a conviction."

It serves no benefit to society when individuals are strapped with 
criminal records for minor marijuana offenses, especially when 
students are denied financial aid for college.

Marijuana should be treated differently than "hard" drugs such as 
heroin; failure to do so undermines the credibility of drug education.

We should not make criminals out of people who merely enjoy unpopular 
vices in the privacy of their own homes.


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