Results 1 to 4 of 4

Thread: Lets Discuss Massachusetts Ballot Question #2

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Wayland MA 463 Old Conn Path

    Default Lets Discuss Massachusetts Ballot Question #2

    Two weeks ago somebody called to my attention the fact that the second Massachusetts ballot question on November 4th, 2008 will consider whether Massachusetts will de-criminalize the possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana. The exact wording and nature of this ballot question can be seen by clicking here:

    The first thing that shocked me when I heard about it was that, up until this point, there was no discernable debate on the subject. Nobody was talking about it. It was a stealth ballot question, too taboo to bring up. My first ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to it was “why ease up on another vice?” Our children have access to alcohol (behind our backs) already so why make another vice any easier for them. Then I started to look into issue closer.

    What the law tries to do is to make the crime fit the punishment. The central key aspect to this legal change is that possession of less than one ounce would take the crime out of the CORI system That is; the offense would not be listed on the individual's Criminal Record Information System (CORI) record.

    Why is this important?

    Our children, as they get older, become more individualized and less under our control. No matter what the values that are taught, no matter how strict one might be (which can also backfire), our children will do what they want to do as they come of age and I, for one, would rather my child not face a scarlet letter of a CORI mark which can "create huge barriers to getting a job, finding housing, and getting school loans."

    See this article (which does a nice job on presenting both sides of the issue)…

    In terms of punishment fitting the crime, here are some things to consider:

     In Singapore, one ‘joint’ will get you death by hanging by the neck. It happens. A story I’m aware of is of a young married Australian couple flying from Sydney to Tokyo and the plane is forced to land in Singapore due to bad weather. The Singapore police decide to do a random, dog-sniffing test on the plane locked passengers and the Australian man is found with a small amount of pot. The man is taken into custody, the woman (the new bride) is sent home and her husband is hanged. The Australian government could do nothing for him and they tried. This is an extreme case but does anybody believe that death by handing was equal to a small amount of pot?
     People are rotting in Texas jails for decades for similar crimes. Again, extreme by Massachusetts standards but does anybody believe that 20 years in a Texas prison is worth possession of less than an ounce of marijuana?
     In Massachusetts we have CORI. You don’t go to jail for 20 years or get hanged you just wear a scarlet letter which prevents you from living up to your full potential as you go through life. Again, I would prefer my kid would get fined and a scolding rather than a CORI black mark.

    Does anybody believe that a CORI lifelong black mark is worth that crime?

    Tangentially, this discussion is something like the debate on teaching safe sex vs. abstinence. (Yes they are different subjects but there are some striking similarities.)

    One could take the tact that they don’t want their kids having sex until they are married. Clearly that’s would be the highroad and/or the politically correct way to look at it. But did ‘we’ wait… all of us – any of us? If my kid – no; when my kid has sex it will occur without my knowledge and at a time and place that I have no control over. I would prefer that my kid be safeguarded from pregnancy and disease. So I teach safe sex because I’m pragmatic.

    Where is the analogy? I will make the assumption that kids will experiment, not all, but significant numbers and I would prefer that, in the event that they are caught, they NOT have a CORI black mark. Because, pregnancy, disease and CORI can all be very permanent.

    It took me quite a bit to gather the courage to broach this subject in an audience of my peers. This board is filled with highly intelligent, highly opinionated and very thoughtful people who do get angry at each other but have the capacity to extend their hands in friendship and forgiveness.

    I can think of no better forum to go to – to ask all of my friends for their words of wisdom on Massachusetts Ballot Question #2 because I’m frankly very torn on this one.

    Like it or not, the decision to de-criminalize less than one ounce of marijuana is now 34 days away and we will be living with the consequences of that decision, however it goes.

    One last thing – this source

    Handicaps the passage of this ballot question to be 60% in favor.

    Who will step forward and provide us with their words of wisdom on this subject?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Wayland, MA

    Default Words of Wisdom

    I'm not sure anything I say is full of wisdom; but I do have an opinion on the subject. I will vote to decriminalize marijuana - up to 1 ounce. I think the fear is that changing the law as is now will make our children drug-addicts. I think that some children will be drawn to drugs and alcohol regardless of the law. I believe that we have personal responsibility for our children and we should teach them the facts.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008



    I applaud your efforts in bringing this up. It took guts, because a lot of people are unwilling to talk about this.

    I think the criminalization of marijuana is ridiculous. This proposed law looks to be a very sane approach.

    In addition to the horrific examples you gave of people suffering the consequences, there are a host of other issues as well - prison overcrowding where first time offenders are put behind bars with hardened criminals, millions of dollars spent trying to enforce existing laws, millions more in potential tax revenue going instead to drug dealers, ruining peoples’ lives because of something they did in their youth, which otherwise harmed no one.

    Meanwhile, with the exception of Belmont, Arlington and a few other “dry” towns, you can drive through any Massachusetts town, including our own and encounter at least one liquor store.

    And the fact that patients who could derive some benefit from medical marijuana are denied it seems to me like “cruel and unusual punishment”. There is no earthly reason why a patient dying of cancer should not be allowed to find some small comfort and pain relief in marijuana.

    We old farts must remember that we were once in the age bracket and/or environments where pot was readily available to us and some people even inhaled. While we don’t want to encourage a life of drugs in our children, as Alan pointed out this falls under the category of things that some kids are going to do anyway, regardless of our best efforts to advise them against it. Pot that was legal and government controlled could be no more harmful than alcohol and could do a lot to help our hemorrhaging economy.

    I'd also like to echo Elizabeth's point above and even though Jeff gave me hell for this before, change some of her words (oh, horrors!) - I would say that some children will be drawn to drugs and alcohol because of the law.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005


    I just had an offline back and forth with Alan on this one, and decided I may as well go public on this one.

    I am truly ambivalent on this one, leaning toward a YES vote, but...

    Let me play the devil's advocate (or in this case, maybe it's the angel's advocate...)

    I don't like the message that this initiative sends about attitudes toward drug use, but I am practical in nature. I never experimented with drugs ever (really, not even a "didn't inhale" kind of thing), and I don't want my kids to go there (even more than I don't want them to have protected sex) -- I mean there is no "protected" drug use...

    Alan, the abstinence/safe sex analogy would suggest that passing this question is perhaps some protection, but it's protection from the legal consequences, not the other real danger, the slippery slope that some will follow into harder drugs.

    John, you're right that alcohol is still out there, but do we also think that possession of small quantities of alcohol for younger people should be allowed? (I know some people do - and I don't want to sidetrack the debate, but it's another question...) Also is this question suggesting ANY government control or regulation of marijuana? Anything that would ensure the product is safe, and not a much more dangerous of what we remember being available when we were kids? I don't think it is.

    On the other hand, the initiative does not "legalize" it really -- it merely changes the penalties. Young offenders would be required to complete a drug awareness program, complete community service, and parental notification would be required. Seems pretty reasonable.

    I think the penalty for older offenders is ridiculously minor: "...possession of one ounce or less of marihuana shall only be a civil offense, subjecting an offender who is eighteen years of age or older to a civil penalty of one hundred dollars and forfeiture of the marihuana, but not to any other form of criminal or civil punishment or disqualification."

    If we mean this to be a real offense, then why not require community service and a drug awareness program from older offenders, too? If we want to legalize it entirely, then that would be a separate question.

    Best I can tell, the initiative says nothing about medicinal uses of marijuana, which, it seems to me, is also a separate question, and something I would certainly support without ambivalence.
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 10-02-2008 at 12:18 PM. Reason: remove word "legalization" as this initiative does not legalize marijuana


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts