Pubdate: Sat, 18 Feb 2006
Source: Metrowest Daily News (MA)
Copyright: 2006 MetroWest Daily News
Author: Steven S. Epstein


So, Tom Reilly thinks threatening teenagers with jail is the best way
to keep them off drugs ("Reilly slams soft bill on pot," Feb. 15). Was
he firing from the hip, as in his first choice for a lieutenant?
Opinion polls  nationwide reveal that most oppose arresting and
jailing nonviolent marijuana  smokers.

In Massachusetts elections since 2000, the majority of voters in three
senate and 23 representative districts have supported making
marijuana  possession a civil violation and not a crime. The voters
recognize the criminal justice system is not the place to express
disapproval.  They understand that parents are the best anti-drug.
Parent-imposed punishments  and voluntary counseling are more likely
to rehabilitate the child than  state-imposed punishments. When they
do not, the police or parents of a child  below the age of 17 may
petition the Juvenile Court that the child is in need of  services.

The Court can then use the coercive power of the state to help the
parents and child.

The best policy  for marijuana is to legalize, tax and regulate this
easily grown plant, used in  the past month by about 10 percent of
Massachusetts adult population, while  prohibiting it to children
as we do tobacco and alcohol. Until the federal  prohibition is
relaxed the decriminalization proposed is humane and sensible.

Steven S. Epstein