cannabisnews.com: Prosecuting Pot is a Waste of Time and Money





Prosecuting Pot is a Waste of Time and Money
Posted by CN Staff on March 30, 2008 at 06:22:28 PT
By Taylor Armerding
Source: Eagle-Tribune
USA -- This is historic. Barney Frank and I agree on something.Actually, I probably agree with at least 10 percent of what the now-veteran, hard-left Massachusetts congressman says and does. It's just that there are few places where the views of the liberal and the libertarian converge so perfectly. And this place would be the insane, unaffordable War on Drugs  specifically as it pertains to marijuana.
Frank said on national television last week that he intends to file a bill to get the feds out of the business of busting pot smokers. No longer would it be a federal crime to possess "small amounts" of the intoxicating weed. He didn't define "small," but I'm willing to bet he means what most people mean  the amount somebody would have for personal use, instead of running a dealership.He points out the obvious  that most crimes aren't federal crimes, including mugging, which is far more of a threat to others than lighting up a joint.And such a bill, if it gained any traction, would dovetail nicely with the effort now underway in Massachusetts to put a question on the ballot this fall that would make simple possession of marijuana a civil, rather than a criminal, offense. Instead of facing criminal penalties, including jail time, an offender would pay a $100 civil fine, like a traffic ticket.It's about time. My only objection is that none of this goes far enough  pot ought to be legal for anybody older than 21. Either that, or let's punish possession of alcohol by a $100 fine as well. I mean, they're both drugs, both intoxicants. This is massive hypocrisy. Let's at least be consistent.And it is worth noting that plenty of people have died of alcohol poisoning. Nobody has died from overdosing on pot.The congressman pitches his initiative with the same talking points used by most marijuana advocates. And they're all good points. It would save millions, if not billions at the federal level, in law enforcement time and effort. It would free up federal agents to go after real threats to public safety, instead of spending their time prosecuting people for giving themselves no more of a buzz than a couple of glasses of wine.In Massachusetts alone, the estimate is that the change could save almost $30 million a year. That's not much of a dent in a budget of more than $30 billion, but it would also let the cops concentrate on things that are more important.And it would spare harmless and productive citizens from carrying criminal records for the rest of their lives.It's just that none of this goes far enough, and doesn't confront the absurdity of the way we treat different drugs. If alcohol is legal, there is no good reason that marijuana shouldn't be legal. If gambling is legal, not to mention heavily promoted by the state, there is no reason pot should be banned for adults.If you haven't done so already, read the Forum essay by state Sen. Steve Baddour, D-Methuen, on casino gambling that appeared in last Sunday's Eagle-Tribune. He argues that only 3 percent of the population falls victim to problem gambling, compared to 10 percent who are problem drinkers and 18 percent addicted to tobacco.He talks about the benefits of jobs, of tax revenue, and of money set aside to address the inevitable social costs of people pouring their "hard-earned" money into the glittering, but black hole of gambling palaces.And if you substituted "pot" for "gaming," you could make most of the same arguments. Think of the tax revenue, think of the jobs for cannabis farmers, distributors and retailers, think of the "entertainment" for adults getting a nice buzz instead of staring, half catatonic, at a video poker machine.Even the pot advocates aren't pushing for that much, of course. While the public supports, by an overwhelming margin, the decriminalization of marijuana, it is less receptive to giving it the same status as alcohol.But, at some point it should. It is indefensible not to do otherwise.I've got no personal stake in any of this. I don't gamble and I don't smoke pot. I wouldn't smoke it even if it were legal. But whatever happened to giving emancipated adults freedom of choice?Here we are in liberal, government-has-no-business-in-your-private-life Massachusetts, where I can't count the number of politicians who have told me they are firmly pro-choice  that they believe absolutely that a woman has a right to choose what to do with her own body. What a load of effluent. The only thing they think a woman should be allowed to choose is to abort a baby. No choice about inhaling the smoke from burning a plant.If none of that is persuasive, consider this fact: The War on Drugs doesn't work. It never has. It never will. But it would have a better chance if pot was taken off the enemies list.Taylor Armerding is associate editorial page editor of The Eagle-Tribune. Source: Eagle-Tribune, The (MA)Author: Taylor ArmerdingPublished: March 30, 2008Copyright: 2008 The Eagle-TribuneContact: letters eagletribune.comWebsite: http://www.eagletribune.com/Related Articles:Common Sense on Marijuanahttp://cannabisnews.com/news/thread23790.shtmlTime To Legalize Marijuanahttp://cannabisnews.com/news/thread23778.shtmlFrank Defends Proposal To Decriminalize Marijuanahttp://cannabisnews.com/news/thread23774.shtml 
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on April 01, 2008 at 14:30:29 PT
unkat27 
I believe that is what happened in Mass. It wasn't that way back when the Kennedy's were running the show I don't think. It was a liberal state but we know how it is now. 
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Comment #14 posted by unkat27 on April 01, 2008 at 14:18:19 PT
Mass dominated by Fascists
Being a long-time resident of Mass, I had to say something to add to Sam Adams. According to the masscann and mass-norml stats, the majority (appx. 70 percent) of its citizens have been voting in favor of decrim, reforms, and legal medical mj for over a decade now.But coincidentally, around 2001, when the majority was really beginning to push for such reforms, Boston was tied into the 9/11 tragedy, the repugs pushed out the democratic governor, and the repug Romney, a favorite of Bush, took over, and the very first thing he did was increase the police-state budget, including more officers and higher pay-rates, at least for the state and Boston police. Iow, 9/11 made things much more difficult for the Mass cannabis reform movement.Even before this occurred, cannabis-friendly communities were generally also limited to high-rent districts, such as the college towns around UMASS in Amherst and Boston's suburbs. Unfortunately, I tried to get into the community in Amherst but couldn't meet the high rental-rates. I spent some time in Northampton in the mid-90s, and during that time I tried to peddle a small-press zine (Zineo Madnest) which promoted enlightenment and legalization for cannabis, but it was killed by local young republican fascists and their usual lies (they said I was promoting legalization of all drugs, including the hard ones). Local morons were turned against me and I was driven out of town by a combination of filthy lies and a DARE office that just moved in to dumb-down the kids. Cannabis-friendly communities continue to be very high-rent college towns, and I continue to reside below the poverty-line, so I'm outa luck there. I've had no more than a couple of joints in the past 4 years, due to the fascist nature of the community I am forced to reside within. But I don't want to complain anymore, I'm just telling it like it is for me. Most poor residents of Mass are in the same boat, unless they are willing to risk everything by trusting neighbors or friends that could snitch on them anytime.The majority of mass residents want cann reforms, but the local plutocrats and police veto theeir votes every year. Too much profit in prohibition for them. 
My Blog
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on March 31, 2008 at 16:49:16 PT
augustwest 
I was very young and spent the summers with my sister and her family that lived in Kensington. I helped my nephew delivery papers and the vice president's house was very close. I went to the top of the Washington Monument and it made me dizzy. I minded the slugs that came out at night. Once the sun set the big ugly nasty slugs came out so we had to stay off the grass. It seemed like all it was was politics and I never thought about politics at all. There again it was a personal experience. When I was married I went back and lived there for 6 months while my son's father was in the Army. I didn't like the damp climate or all the traffic and freeways. I am a country person and would much rather see an amish buggy on the road.
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Comment #12 posted by augustwest on March 31, 2008 at 16:24:48 PT:
dc and mass
Sorry to hear you didn't care for the dc area fom. I grew up there and would recommend it to anyone who can afford it. After 9/11 things got a little weird but the job market is great and the live music scene for baltimore and anapolis rocks. I was caught with weed by maryland and dc police many times and was never charged for it but I have been charged for 3 grams in mansfeild, mass and been harrassed in boston were I saw a cop shoot a girls dog for growling. My experiences in mass have all been bad(mostly grateful dead and phish shows) The term massholes seems to be pretty well. no offense sam.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on March 31, 2008 at 11:17:49 PT
Sam
Since you are from Mass. could you tell me if the mandatory  health insurance makes it easier to afford health insurance? Basically is it working?PS: When I compared the states it was because of what those states mean to me personally. Those 3 states are special is what I mean. Totally different but special. They have their own spirit.
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on March 31, 2008 at 10:28:28 PT
Sam
When a state runs out of room for all the people class wars will happen. I love preppie clothes but I was raised Catholic and that's the way we dressed. I personally don't mind paying for other people's children to go to school. That's how we should be if we value human beings. At least that is how I feel. I went to Parochial School but my father had to pay for public schools. I don't understand why money is so important to people. I am happy to be able to pay my bills and my taxes. Taxes are deductible. I think James Taylor is a preppie hippie type.http://www.jamestaylor.com/
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Comment #9 posted by Sam Adams on March 31, 2008 at 10:19:54 PT
mass.
FOM there are lots of great things about Massachusetts, I just hate to see anyone equating it with CA OR or WA. The vibe here is very different. Mass. is the opposite of being laid back.  They get behind the wheel of a car and think it's OK to try to kill you.  It's very much an uptight "me" state. "I've got 2 little kids, so I think the entire rest of the town should pay $10,000 a year in property tax to educate them. And we should run all the bars out of town, and put gates on all the public spaces and woods so we can close them at 5:00 PM.  I just paid $1 million for a condo in the city and I don't like noise, so I think we should shut down the bars and live music clubs, and cancel the big festival they've been having for 50 years."  That's the sort of thing that's been happening here for the last 25 years.To sum it up, yes, the people are are liberal and don't like wars or Dick Cheney.  But, tattoos were illegal here until a couple years ago, and the vast majority of towns and neighborhoods won't even allow a tattoo parlor to open up. Everyone looks and dresses the same preppy, boring way. Even though the people are liberal, if you walk down the street in Boston you'd think you were at a Young Republican retreat.We may be the first to legalize marijuana, but that will probably be the same year they ban tobacco and drinking in bars. I wouldn't be surprised.This is the same place that was the center of the Abolishonist movement, but we also had laws that forced people to go to Church.  Why do you think the Transcendentalist movement (Thoreau, Hawthorne, etc) started here? Their Puritannical neighbors were driving them nuts!
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on March 31, 2008 at 09:58:05 PT
Sam
I guess I don't know much about your state. My opinions are based on my memory. James Taylor is from your state. It seems conservative and liberal from what I remember. It just is a pretty state too. The Kennedy's have always held a special place in my heart and that is important to me. I am not political as much as I am a romantic. I'm in love with love ya know. LOL!
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Comment #7 posted by Sam Adams on March 31, 2008 at 09:49:51 PT
mass.
I wouldn't get too carried away about Mass.- it is NOTHING like the West Coast. People here are liberal in their political views, but very controlling and socially conservative when it comes to living their lives. It's very much like Sweden, everything must be safe and quiet or they'll pass an ordinance and lock you in jail. for example, there used to be a huge Gay Pride parade in Boston in the 90s. It was very festive and many people really got into extravagant costumes. There were always a few women going topless.Mayor Menino heard about it and send a large contingent of police, decreeing that any woman showing her breasts would be arrested. The Gay Pride parade has shrunken every year since. Compare that to San Francisco, where each year they hold the Bay to Breakers race where many people run stark naked. Or the huge outdoor festivals in many cities, like Portland Oregon where they have 50,000+ for a 3 day Beer Fest every year.  That would NEVER be allowed in Boston or anywhere in Mass. And the govt. here is one of the most corrupt and least efficient in the USA, so most public services and facilities are poor, not like California or Oregon at all.  Think Louisiana of the North.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on March 31, 2008 at 05:03:59 PT
Keith Richard Says!
'I Smoke Weed All The Damn Time': Keith Richards***Posted March 31st, 2008 Rolling Stones rocker Keith Richards refuses to steer clear of drugs completely, admitting that he still smokes marijuana "all the damn time".The guitarist was addicted to heroin at the height of the legendary band's 1970s glory days.However, Richards confessed that his bad experiences with drugs haven't dissuaded him from upholding one last illegal vice."I smoke my head off. I smoke weed all the damn time. There, you've got it. But that's my benign weed. That's all I take, that's all I do. But I do smoke and I've got some really good hash," The Sun quoted him, as saying.Keith and Stones singer Mick Jagger were famously arrested in 1967 when police raided Richards' country home in Sussex."People thought I was going to die. I never did - as you can see. The drugs? Oh yeah, they were great. "Drugs now... it's a very dodgy subject," he said.Richards also expressed his resentment towards officials who have banned smoking in public spaces in Britain, Ireland, California and New York."This worldwide smoking ban is draconian, socially, politically-correct bullshit. They'll get over it. It's like Prohibition - they tried to stop booze once. Ha! Look what happened. It ruined America," he said. URL: http://tinyurl.com/2c8hrt
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Comment #5 posted by OverwhelmSam on March 31, 2008 at 04:59:22 PT
Sam
Sounds like you've got it in the bag, unless your state uses Diebold voting machines.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on March 30, 2008 at 20:19:03 PT
Sam
Certain states have always stood out to me. Massachusetts, California and Oregon are three of them. Those three states have their own sense of freedom that I found very interesting. I've spent summers in Washington DC when I was growing up and it never impressed me. It made me think of indifferent people doing the same thing and not really going anywhere but in circles. I haven't been to Oregon but I think people went to Oregon to grow the best Pot. Massachusetts was because of the love of the Kennedys that I had. California was for young hippies to get as far from the eastern part of the USA and find a different way to live then what the establishment wanted them to believe. You live in a great state in my opinion.
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Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on March 30, 2008 at 19:59:09 PT
editors
as someone who lives in this state, it is really exciting to see two VERY supportive editorials on decrim. These are not college newspapers, they're both mainstream media papers, and it seems like the actual opinion editors are making a special effort to throw down the gauntlet and loudly proclaim support.The best thing is that we know these papers will likely be publishing favorable articles as coverage heats up in advance of the referendum. The guys who write the editorials are making their views clear now.  No doubt another goal of coming out early is to influence the state's larger media outlets. These mid-sized papers can only give courage to the larger ones.The prohibitionists are working to make up a 20+ point lead on this referendum, I'm sure a highly critical media storm is the first thing they need to compete, and just the opposite is happening, papers are lining up to approve the idea of decrim. Great stuff!
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Comment #2 posted by runruff on March 30, 2008 at 19:47:03 PT:
DEA [again]
Have ya'll heard about all the guns and laptops missing at the DEA?It's no wonder they need a billion dollars per year to spend on PR an propaganda!
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Comment #1 posted by mykeyb420 on March 30, 2008 at 15:02:49 PT
wtg barney !
Gee, I wish barney was my congressman,,,Im stuck with this nancy pelosi dude.Nancy can't even protect us against the DEA,,,or won't
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