Pubdate: Mon, 26 Jan 2009
Source: Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)
Copyright: 2009 Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Note: Letters from newspaper's circulation area receive publishing
priority - requires 'Letter to the Editor' in subject
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


The Worcester City Council wisely has tabled two orders that sought
ordinances imposing fines of up to $300 for anyone caught smoking
marijuana on city streets, sidewalks, parks or other public spaces.
Their action should serve as an example for other area cities and
towns as Massachusetts adjusts to the decriminalization of the
possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The words to bear in mind are decriminalization and

The ballot question passed in November does not legalize marijuana
but decriminalizes possession. It remains to be seen whether that
approach is more sensible than previous policies, but the voters'
action  did not change the fact that it is still illegal to grow,
possess, smoke or distribute marijuana.

In this context, the word small means one ounce or less of marijuana
held for personal use. Those found to be in possession of more than
that, or those observed selling or distributing the drug, remain
subject to arrest and conviction on serious criminal drug charges.

Massachusetts is not the first state to have chosen the path of
decriminalization, and probably will not be the last. We do not
condone the consumption of marijuana, and continue to believe it may
serve as a gateway to more serious drug abuse. But neither have we
seen any evidence of public pot smoking warranting enactment of new
local laws.

Besides being hard to enforce evenhandedly, such measures would tend
to divert enforcement from more pressing criminal violations.
Moreover, those inclined to flaunt their marijuana habit hardly will
be deterred by a local ordinance or bylaw.

Worcester  has shown wisdom by not making more of this issue than is
necessary. They and other area communities are better off focusing on
drug-abuse prevention and education.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin