Pubdate: Mon, 25 Jan 2010
Source: Herald News, The (Fall River, MA)
Copyright: 2010 The Herald News
Author: Steven S. Epstein


In your view that "Rhode Island can learn from Massachusetts pot 
laws" (OUR VIEW: "Decriminalize pot in RI," Jan. 23, Page B2) you 
assert that any Rhode Island decriminalization legislation must 
address three supposed defects in Massachusetts' law.

These defects only exist in the minds of law enforcement who, having 
lost the power to handcuff people for possessing marijuana, continue 
to wage a campaign against the new law.

Although "Massachusetts' law does "not require offenders to correctly 
identify themselves or show identification," as a practical matter, 
this does not prevent police from enforcing the law as most 
possession offenders are captured, as before passage of the 
initiative, because they committed another crime for which they may 
still be handcuffed and are required to correctly identify 
themselves. Furthermore, those who would remain silent or give a 
false name are very rare, as the natural response when asked by a man 
with a badge and gun your name and address is to provide it. The 
claim the law does not "provide a way to force them to pay the fines" 
is false. The offense being a civil matter, a small claims complaint 
is the collection mechanism.

Massachusetts lead the way to independence in 1775. In 1911, it lead 
the way to demonizing cannabis. In 2008, it joined Maine as the only 
other New England state to decriminalize. With the Massachusetts 
Legislature facing a $2 billion budget deficit, and the nation a 
multi trillion-dollar debt, it is time to recognize that 
Massachusetts and the Union cannot afford to prohibit commerce in 
cannabis by adults and finally cure the "reefer madness"

After all, we are writing about the same plant, which in 1763, 
writing above the nom de plume, Humphrey Ploughjogger, John Adams 
wrote, "We shall by and by want a world of hemp more for our own consumption."

Steven S. Epstein, Esq.


The author practices law in Georgetown, and is a founder and officer 
of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition.
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