Marijuana Vote Draws Fire

Marijuana Vote Draws Fire
Posted by CN Staff on March 20, 2008 at 04:42:09 PT
By John Whitson and Scott Brooks
Source: Union Leader 
Manchester, NH -- Mayor Frank Guinta has asked state Rep. David Scannell to resign as spokesman for the Manchester school district after Scannell voted Tuesday to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.Scannell insisted he will not resign, saying his vote is a form of political speech protected by the U.S. Constitution. He also raised the possibility he would take legal action against the mayor or anyone who tries to strip away his job.
In a letter signed yesterday, Guinta said Scannell's vote on the bill, which passed the House but is unlikely to become law, "permanently and irrevocably harms" Scannell's ability to serve Manchester's schools. The mayor argued Scannell's resignation is necessary to "help restore the integrity" of district anti-drug policies."He's the face of the district," Guinta said yesterday. "He interacts with kids on a daily basis, and he is taking a position to decriminalize marijuana. That is counter to logic, in my view."Scannell, 41, has been the district spokesman since March 2004. He also heads the district's safe schools program, an anti-violence initiative. A Democrat, he won the Ward 2 House seat in a special election last May.In interviews, Acting Superintendent Henry Aliberti and several city school board members said they consider Scannell an upstanding employee. Guinta, too, said he had no qualms with Scannell's performance as the district's coordinator of community relations. The city charter does not authorize the mayor to fire school district employees. Only the school district holds that power, Aliberti said.Scannell stood by his vote yesterday, saying he believes the bill would allow young people to "get into a rehabilitative system that enables them to become functioning adults.""We're not condoning drug use in any way, shape or form," he said.The bill would make possession of up to one-quarter ounce of marijuana a violation punishable by a $200 fine. Under current law, a person could face a $2,000 fine and jail time and may not be eligible for some forms of college aid.The bill passed the House by a vote of 193 to 141. It has yet to go before the Senate, and Gov. John Lynch has said he would veto the bill if it reached his desk.Three Manchester Fire Department employees who double as state representatives also voted in favor of the bill: Jeff Goley, Patrick Garrity and Daniel Sullivan. All three are Democrats.Guinta has not asked for their resignation and declined to say whether he would."I'm focusing on the school district," said Guinta, a Republican considering a run for governor. "We have drug policies that the district is responsible for adhering to, and the person who is responsible for public relations is taking a completely counter view. I think that is going to impact (his) credibility with parents and students."Guinta said he left a voice mail for Scannell but did not speak with him before he sent the letter asking for his resignation. The mayor sent a copy of the letter to Aliberti.Aliberti declined to say whether he thinks Scannell should keep his job. He called Scannell a "fine employee" and said he has, in the past, kept his legislative responsibilities separate from his duties as a district employee.Some members of the Manchester school board rose to Scannell's defense yesterday. Joyce Craig, the committeeman representing the North End, said Scannell's politics should not have any bearing on his job.Chris Herbert, a Republican representing Ward 4, said he disagrees with Scannell's position on the bill but would not want him to lose his job because of it."I don't know what the mayor's deal is. A majority of the House voted for it," Herbert said.Scannell is a Central High School graduate and has a law degree from the University Maine. Before taking the school district job, he spent several years working as an aide to Mayor Robert Baines.He currently sits on the board of directors for Makin' It Happen, an organization that discourages children from using drugs, tobacco or alcohol. The group's executive director, Tym Rourke, said Scannell asked to be taken off the board at least a month ago because he took a position with the Bean Foundation, which provides funding for groups like Makin' It Happen. No action been taken yet.The organization has not taken a position on the bill, but Rourke said he thinks it sends a "dangerous" message that marijuana use is "not a big deal."Source: Union Leader (Manchester, NH)Author: John Whitson and Scott BrooksPublished: March 20, 2008Copyright: 2008 The Union Leader Corp.Contact: opinion UnionLeader.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:NH Common Sense Lynch Threatens Veto To Decriminalize Pot Votes To Relax Law for Marijuana House OKs Marijuana Bill
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Comment #6 posted by NikoKun on March 20, 2008 at 21:34:37 PT
Another thing...
These stupid politicians CONTINUE to use the excuse "it sends the wrong message to kids"... And claim we're being soft on drugs... But ignore the fact that we're being smarter on drugs, than they are!It doesn't send the wrong message to kids, to actually have LOGICAL drug policies. We have a good policy on Alcohol, age limits and policies which rely on personal responsibility, rather than flat out criminalization.
Marijuana is currently easier for kids to get, than alcohol... So what does THAT tell them about what message we send to kids?How can we even use this excuse, as a reason to continue to take away the freedoms and rights, of those who use Cannabis?
I just don't see the "message to kids" as a reason to deprive a certain group of people, their god given bodily rights!
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Comment #5 posted by NikoKun on March 20, 2008 at 21:00:39 PT
I see a Mayor who should lose his job.
This Mayor's attitude, proves he is unfit, to be in the position of Mayor.Anyone with some damn intelligence, can see that there are FAR better policies we can take on drugs, than Prohibition.All Prohibition accomplishes, is putting people in jail, and creating the black market for drugs, thus creating crime, violence, and drug cartels... Drug use rates have not decreased, and likely wont no matter what we do.Prohibition is a counterproductive policy, and causes more problems than solves...
For the good of society, and for the good of individual freedom, We need to end this abomination, known as prohibition!
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on March 20, 2008 at 08:22:36 PT
I agree. I am really amazed these days at the spin and hate I have been seeing on the cable news channels. Thank goodness for the Internet. 
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Comment #3 posted by dongenero on March 20, 2008 at 08:17:30 PT
Voters take note
It looks like there are a few more Republicans that need to be voted out in the next New Hampshire elections.
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on March 20, 2008 at 07:35:15 PT
mayor Guinta
Mayor Guinta should be forced to resign immediately for attacking our basic right to freedom of speech guaranteed when this country was founded.People like this should be vilified, not people who refuse to wear a flag lapel pin.  This is the un-American activity. He'd have been happier working for the Stasi in East Germany than an American city.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on March 20, 2008 at 04:46:04 PT
Promoting Pot: House Wanders Into The Weeds
March 20, 2008The State House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill that would reduce the penalties on possession of small amounts of marijuana. What were they smoking?The idea was to keep kids who harmlessly toke up from being sent to jail. But kids don't harmlessly toke up.Contrary to propaganda spread by pro-pot groups, marijuana is addictive. Partly because of this, it is a gateway drug to more seriously dangerous narcotics. Tolerance to the effects of marijuana smoking can build up quickly, and kids who no longer get the high they once got often will do more pot or upgrade to stronger drugs.Gov. John Lynch is right that the bill sends entirely the wrong signal to New Hampshire's youth, and he is right to threaten a veto.Supporters of the bill say young people shouldn't go to prison for simply possessing a joint or two. But police say that doesn't happen. Those kids get fined, and the bigger fish get locked up.This bill would likely lead to more drug use, and more drug dealing, and the Senate should kill it at the first opportunity.URL:
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