Stoners Find Almost $25 Million: Offer To Romney

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Mar 10, 2003.

  1. By Matthew Dolimpio
    Source: Boston Weekly Dig

    You might be surprised to find out that, at this moment, five bills regarding the decriminalization of marijuana sit in committee before the Massachusetts legislature. Enforcing current state prohibitions on marijuana costs Massachusetts nearly $25 million a year, according to MassCann, a statewide organization committed to decriminalizing marijuana. Unfortunately, despite support from law enforcement, legislators, and academic research, the state's current budget crisis and positive outcomes in other states that have decriminalized pot, no one in either the legislature or MassCann, the organization that proposed the bills, thinks decriminalization stands much chance of passing.

    Steven Epstein, co-founder and treasurer of MassCann wrote the bills, S.1119 and S.207 in the Senate, and H.1061, H.1062 and H.2392 in the House. While the bills differ in regards to specifics, they universally declare that possession of less than one ounce of marijuana be punishable by a civil fine and nothing more. In S.1119, H.1061 and H.1062, the fine would be not more than $500 and not less than $100 for the first offense, and not more than $1,000 nor less than $200 for the second. S.207 and its house partner, H.2392, go a step farther in that they prevent the police from having the power to arrest anyone possessing less than an ounce of marijuana. H.1062 varies only slightly from H.1061 in that it provides specific direction for the disposition of collected fines. There are also two bills pending regarding the use of Medical Marijuana, S.676 and a House partner, yet to be numbered.
    While bills have been proposed in the past, there has never been as much positive support and momentum for the subject in the statehouse. With the state budget crisis looming, many of the bills' supporters in the legislature call on fiscal needs for the passage of the bill. Senator Cynthia Creem's (D-Newton, a co-sponsor of S.207) Chief-of-Staff, Mark Fine, explained, “The cost of our current policy is bad in fiscal terms, as well as in diverting resources from stopping the real criminals who are threats to public safety." Fine clarified that the senator, “does not condone marijuana use, only that our resources need to be better allocated for stopping violent crime." Senator Steven Tolman (D-Brighton), another co-sponsor of S.207 agreed. “It's a question of resources and priorities, and [Sen. Tolman] feels that there's not enough resources for crime prevention and not a high enough priority to waste money on the matter," said Matt Irish, Tolman's Chief-of-Staff.

    Those in law enforcement also agree with decriminalization. While the Boston Police Department did not have an official comment, Officer Dan Daley, a 32 year veteran with the BPD, currently working in Allston-Brighton's D-14 said, “I haven't heard much talk about the issue around the precinct, but I don't think it's a bad idea … it doesn't seem like much change [to the current enforcement] but would save us and the courts some trouble."

    While the bills do have potential supporters in the Senate and the House, as well as law enforcement, they also have critics, including Epstein's representatives, who proposed S.1119, H. 1061 and H.1062 on his behalf. Senator Bruce Tarr's (R-Gloucester) office said, “The Senator does not currently favor any decriminalization of marijuana and only filed the bills by request," but may consider changing his mind, “if there's a difference in the wording or structure of the bills when they reach the floor." Representative Barbara L'Italien (D-Andover), a freshman this year, agreed with Tarr. She stated, “It sends the wrong message and I filed the bill only by request. I'm not in favor and I feel that there are many more important issues right now, like the budget," apparently ignoring $24 million dollars in savings that the state would realize through decriminalization.

    Bill Downing, MassCann's president and another co-founder, argued that the benefits are so substantial that any potential negatives are outweighed. “We need a more moral and reasonable method for dealing with marijuana. History has proved that prohibition fails," he said. Downing cited a study by Todd Mikuriya that shows that,in the nine-year history of California's decriminalization, the state saved over $100 million. Dr. Joseph Miron, a Professor of Economics at Boston University, also did a study where he conservatively estimated that the state could save “$24.3 million a year in allocated resources" and cited new evidence that decriminalization in other states not only saved money but had “no measurable effect on marijuana use." Dr. Miron also explained, “Everything is dangerous; by comparison, pot is safe" and said that in addition to decriminalization we need “accurate information about what is dangerous and what is not. Pot is not a gateway drug, and should not be treated as such."

    Despite all the research and positive results in other states, most notably California, both Bill Downing and Steven Epstein feel that the bills have little chance of passing. Epstein explained that “in the current climate, the chances of [the bills] passing is not quite in our favor," and Downing added similar remarks: “I'd say the chances of the bills passing are about 25 percent." However, Epstein cited ballot results from several non-binding questions in 2002 that asked voters their opinion on decriminalization in the Commonwealth, “We won nearly 60/40 in every district the questions were asked in. The people want it, but the legislature is afraid to take sides." Epstein called upon those who support decriminalization to contact their legislators. “Everyone who reads this story and wants to change marijuana laws must speak out and let their representatives know what they want."

    To find out more about the bills or to learn more about MassCann, check out their Web site at:

    Complete Title: Stoners Find Almost $25 Million: Offer It To Romney

    Source: Boston Weekly Dig (MA)
    Author: Matthew Dolimpio
    Published: March 5 - 12, 2003
    Copyright: 2003 Boston Weekly Dig

    Related Articles & Web Site:

  2. never happened thats a shame
  3. sucks to know we don't live in a democracy. but they tell us it is? i thought in a democracy, popular opinion wins? sure, if you keep your head low,(fuck that:devious:), and do all the shit your SUPPOSED to do, you can live a REALATIVELY "free" life. but we mostly live in a police state where you can be arrested, fined, possibly thrown in jail for just trying to smoke a plant:confused:
  4. Way to bring up a nearly 8 year old thread :wave:

  5. its a fucking plant government!
    its a flower right :p

    way to post on a 8yr old thread and say nothing. cool guy

Grasscity Deals Near You


Share This Page