Pubdate: Sun, 22 Aug 2010
Source: Patriot Ledger, The  (Quincy, MA)
Contact:  2010 GateHouse Media, Inc.
Author: Amy Littlefield


BROCKTON - Jean Augustin, 22, of Brockton, thinks using marijuana is 
OK, "as long as people don't get too messed up or get into a car when 
under the influence of it."

Dom Scolaro, 49, of Easton, used marijuana to ease the nausea from 
his cancer chemotherapy treatments. He says the Class D substance 
should be available to everyone, not just those who are sick.

"It's the only thing that worked for me," Scolaro said, "and I think 
it's a crime that it isn't legal."

Forty percent of Americans say they have tried it, 73 percent want it 
legalized for medical use, but more than 800,000 people still get 
arrested each year for carrying it.

Despite a growing trend toward legalization of marijuana for both 
medical and recreational use, people are still arrested for using and 
carrying the drug.

Marijuana, also called grass and pot, entered the spotlight after 
last week's arrest of Brockton photographer Tommy Colbert, who police 
allege tried to retrieve 700 pounds of marijuana from an Abington 
shipping facility. The pot was wrapped in Mexican newspapers and was 
worth $1 million on the street, police said.

While law enforcement authorities continue busting marijuana dealers, 
personal use is becoming more and more acceptable in mainstream culture.

Actress Meryl Streep, for example, is shown dragging on marijuana 
joints in the romantic comedy movie "It's Complicated." And before 
that film, the suburban housewife played by Mary Louise Parker was 
running a local marijuana business in TV's "Weeds" show.

Rhode Island, California and 12 other states, plus Washington, D.C., 
have legalized marijuana for medical use, and a California ballot 
measure this year would make it legal for adults 21 and older to grow 
small amounts of pot for recreational use.

In 2008, Massachusetts reduced the penalty for possession of less 
than an ounce of marijuana to a ticket and a $100 fine. The Bay State 
joined 11 other states that already had decriminalization laws on the books.

Law enforcement officials acknowledge the state measure created a 
contradictory scenario.

"That (one ounce of) marijuana comes from 700-pound shipments   one's 
legal and the other's illegal." said Raynham Police Chief Louis 
Pacheco. "How does that work? What's the rationalization of that?"

"I think they should either make it legal or not legal," he said.

A majority of voters in every community in The Enterprise coverage 
area supported the measure when it went before the voters two years ago.

Last week, according to a poll on The Enterprise website, 69 percent 
of those who participated supported having the state legalize 
marijuana and tax it as they do alcohol and cigarettes. The other 31 
percent of readers oppose legalization, saying marijuana is a gateway drug.

Legalization advocates argue that law enforcement is wasting 
resources on a drug that doesn't kill people.

In 2008, 847,863 people nationwide were charged with marijuana 
offenses, down slightly from 872,720 arrests in 2007. About 89 
percent of the arrests were for possession, not for selling the drug.

"It's a huge mis-allocation of resources," said Mike Meno, 
communications director for the Washington, D.C.,-based Marijuana 
Policy Project. "Meanwhile, there are murders, and rapes and 
burglaries that are going unsolved."

Mexican drug cartels reap about 60 percent of their profits in U.S. 
pot sales, taking in $8.6 billion in 2006 alone. As American 
pot-smokers fund the cartels, the U.S. government has spent billions 
fighting the unsuccessful Mexican drug war.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon said earlier this month that he 
would support a debate about legalization of all drugs as a way to 
address drug-related violence, which has killed more than 28,000 
people since 2006.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox later blogged his support for 

"Radical prohibition strategies have never worked, he said.



A Pew Research Center study found 41 percent of people surveyed 
nationally support legalization of pot   men, 45 percent vs. women, 38 percent.

By age groups: 18-29, 58 percent support; 30-49, 42 percent; 50-64, 
40 percent; 65-plus, 22 percent.

More than half of young people ages 18-29 say they have tried 
marijuana, according to research by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew 
Research Center.

More than 80 percent of 12th-graders  nationwide say the drug is easy 
to obtain, according to an annual survey by the University of Michigan.



Also called grass, pot and weed, it is the common name for a crude 
drug made from the plant Cannabis sativa.

The main mind-altering (psychoactive) ingredient in marijuana is THC 
(delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), but more than 400 other chemicals 
also are in the plant.

A marijuana "joint" (cigarette) is made from the dried particles of the plant.

The amount of THC in the marijuana determines how strong its effects will be.

The type of plant, the weather, the soil, the time of harvest and 
other factors determine the strength of marijuana.

The strength of today's marijuana is as much as 10 times greater than 
the marijuana used in the early 1970s.

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse



At least 11 pot busts have been conducted by local law enforcement 
since January 2009, including:

The seizure of more than 500 marijuana plants from a Brockton home in 
December 2009.

At least 11 pot busts have been conducted by local law enforcement 
since January 2009, including:

The  arrest that same month of an East Falmouth man who tried to 
retrieve  43 pounds of marijuana in a package addressed to "Pembroke 
Little League."

A November 2009 sweep of Bridgewater-Raynham High School that turned 
up eight students with marijuana or related paraphernalia.

The May 2009 arrest of a  17-year-old Kingston boy for an alleged 
text-message pot deal.

Last week's arrest of a Brockton man who authorities allege was 
picking up some 700 pounds of marijuana from an Abington shopping facility.
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