Pubdate: Tue, 25 Mar 2008
Source: Foster's Daily Democrat (Dover, NH)
Copyright: 2008 Geo. J. Foster Co.
Author: Adam D. Krauss
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Youth)


ROCHESTER - A vocal government watchdog is urging the  mayor to
consider seeking the resignation of two School  Board members who, as
state legislators, voted to  decriminalize marijuana. But Mayor John
Larochelle  isn't eager to take that road.

"I'd like to hear why they voted that way" instead of  "being reactive
and asking for their resignation," he  said.

In one of two e-mails fired off to Larochelle and the  City Council on
Monday, Fred Leonard said the mayor  should stand up for students and
"rid our school  leadership" of Bill Brennan and Pamela Hubbard
because  they lacked "good judgment."

The legislators voted last week in favor of House Bill  1623, while
School Board Chair Bob Watson, also a  Democratic representative,
voted against the proposal.

The city's legislative delegation, absent one member  who did not
vote, split 5-2 in favor of the measure.

The proposal would make possession of one-quarter ounce  or less of
marijuana a violation punishable by a $200  fine. Under current law,
possessing that amount is a  misdemeanor that carries a $2,000 fine
and could land  someone in jail for a year.

The bill now moves to the Senate, where chances of  passage appear
slim, and Gov. John Lynch has said he  would veto it if it got to his desk.

Hubbard, a retired teacher, said she stands by her vote.

"To have that on a young person's record, or to make it  impossible
for him or her to apply and get any sort of  federal money for
college, seems like a penalty that is  far greater than the crime,"
she said, stressing the  bill would not legalize the drug.

"In no way does it imply I condone the use of drugs,"  Hubbard added.
Leonard, who ran for School Board last  year and has two teenage sons
in the school district,  said Brennan and Hubbard sent a "terrible
message" --  that "it's OK if you have a small amount of pot."

That stands in contrast with the school district's  zero-tolerance
policy on drugs, he said.

First-time student offenders in possession of an  illegal drug are
suspended, with the ability to attend  the teen drug court, and a
second offense carries  expulsion, Hubbard said.

The proposal's supporters said young people caught with  a small
quantity of the drug should not lose the chance  for college aid and
other government assistance.

But Leonard said decriminalizing would create a  loophole for people
who get caught but escape having  the offense on their record and then
go to work in a  school.

"We can have drug abusers within reach of our  children," he said.

Larochelle said he's concerned with the fallout for  someone caught
possessing a small amount of a drug. He  said the repercussions could
lead to more drug use if  the person, with a criminal record, is
thrown off a  career track.

"It might be that this vote is a very good way to start  a dialogue of
what works for fighting drugs,"  Larochelle said. "This idea of
decriminalizing might  not be a bad idea."

A phone message left for Brennan was not immediately  returned.

Leonard's e-mails followed news Manchester Mayor Frank  Guinta called
for the resignation of his city's school  district spokesman who, as a
member of the House, also  voted for the bill, which passed 193-141.

Leonard said he requested Larochelle look into the  votes because he's
the city's chief representative.
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MAP posted-by: Derek