Pubdate: Thu, 23 Feb 2006
Source: Norwell Mariner (MA)
Copyright: 2005 Community Newspaper Company
Author:  Steven S. Epstein, Esq.
Note: Steven Epstein,  an attorney, is a founder of the Massachusetts 
Cannabis Reform Coalition and has long been active in the effort to 
loosen the laws regarding marijuana use. He is  the parent of two 
teenagers and a  pre-teen.
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Cited: Massachusetts Cannabis Reform  Coalition -


The thunderers want to continue threatening jail as the best  way to 
keep people off marijuana ("Pot possession decriminalization bill 
approved by Legislative Panel," Feb. 16) even though it is clear that 
current  criminal penalties for possessing marijuana reduce neither 
supply nor demand.  Anyone who wants it can get it. Close to 50 
percent of Massachusetts voters over  the age of 18 have tried it at 
least once in their lifetime. Most never try any  other illicit drug, 
almost all are good people and some are politicians. Since 2000, by 
substantial margins voters in three state senate and 23 state 
representative  districts, including Norwell in 2002, 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.

Legalizing,  taxing and regulating this agricultural commodity used 
in the past month by  about a tenth of Massachusetts' adult 
population, while prohibiting it to  children as we do tobacco and 
alcohol, is the best policy consistent with  securing the 
Constitution's promised blessings of liberty. Until the 
federal  prohibition is relaxed, the decriminalization proposed is 
fiscally responsible,  humane and sensible.

Steven S.  Epstein, Esq.

Georgetown,  MA
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman