Pubdate: Sun, 25 Oct 2009
Source: Eagle-Tribune, The (MA)
Copyright: 2009 The Eagle-Tribune
Author: Steven S. Epstein


To the editor:

I attended the senatorial candidate forum, "US candidates appear at 
North Andover forum," Oct. 19. I went because an earlier story 
publicizing the event led me to believe the candidates would be 
answering questions from the audience, albeit screened.

The screening process resulted in questions that might provide the 
candidates an opportunity to distinguish themselves substantively 
going unasked.

My question was: "Explain your position on the reform of federal 
marijuana policy as to its use as a medicine, hemp and 
recreationally." This question is relevant because their positions on 
pot present their understanding of the role of a senator.

This question was certainly newsworthy on the day Taylor Armerding's 
column, "Treat pot like gambling, all that matters is the money" was 
published. It became more so with the Justice Department's 
announcement that it will not seek to arrest medical marijuana users 
and suppliers as long as they conform to state laws, "Feds plan to 
issue new medical marijuana policy," Oct. 20.

Money, while important, is not all that matters. What also matters is 
that our laws comply with the federal and state constitutions; both 
suppose the consent of the governed. The vote on Question 2 
annihilated the notion that prohibition backed by criminal sanction 
had such consent. The vote on Question 2 and the rampant civil 
disobedience to the law -- more than 10 percent of Massachusetts 
voters consumed it last month -- establish there is not consent here 
for the prohibition of its commerce.

According to the U.S. Justice Department's medical marijuana policy 
memorandum, the black market provides, "significant source of revenue 
to large-scale criminal enterprises." So too did alcohol prohibition. 
The only constitutional policy toward marijuana consists of 
regulations and a level of taxation reasonable enough so that the 
people will generally send their money to the state rather than 
resorting to the black market in their pursuit of their subjective happiness.

Steven S. Epstein

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