Pubdate: Tue, 3 May 2011
Source: Standard-Times (New Bedford, MA)
Copyright: 2011 South Coast Media Group
Author: Steven S. Epstein


In its April 24 editorial, "Court ruling helps protect drug dealers," 
The Standard-Times turns the state's constitutional protections 
against unreasonable searches and seizures on its head, because some 
criminals will escape detection. The newspaper ignores the fact that 
the vast majority of citizens who possess marijuana are not now, and 
never were, deserving of criminal prosecution and punishment.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Supreme Judicial Court twice 
rejected constitutional challenges to marijuana prohibition, telling 
proponents of limiting the state's exercise of power to change the 
law. This they did in 2008 and the court recognized that, in voting 
for Question 2, the people recognized that, going forward, marijuana 
possessors would not be committing a crime.

Therefore, in the absence of "reasonable, articulable suspicion" of 
criminal activity the marijuana possessor, if encountered by the 
police, reasonably expects to pay a fine, as Chief Justice Ireland 
explained in a footnote: "We do not expect a significant intrusion 
into our privacy and liberty." This decision, issued on Patriots' 
Day, should remind all that in our state and nation, the purpose of 
government is "to furnish the individuals who compose it with the 
power of enjoying in safety and tranquility their natural rights, and 
the blessings of life."

It should also remind us that our rights exist independent of the 
state. In Massachusetts, our rights are set out in part in a 
Declaration of Rights and for the nation in the Bill of Rights. 
Finally, it should remind us all that when the smell of gunpowder 
lingered over battle road, the Spirit of 75 burned brightly.

Steven S. Epstein


Editor's note: Stephen Epstein is one of the authors of the friend of 
the court brief submitted by the National Organization for the Reform 
of Marijuana Laws in the Benjamin Cruz case and a longtime advocate 
of ending the prohibition of marijuana possession.  
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake