Reefer madness is still a condition that plagues Massachusetts! This was sadly highlighted during the gubernatorial debate on Wednesday, with Jon Keller’s question about possibly decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. Several states have a $100 fine for possession. I was not surprised to hear that Mihos and Healey would veto any such bill. I was VERY surprised that Grace Ross did not come out strongly in favor of such a thing. And I was disappointed that Deval Patrick, whom I wholeheartedly support in this campaign, flat out refused to support any decriminalization of the substance.
I definitely considered myself a Libertarian Democrat long before Markos Moulitsas wrote posts on the topic. I believe one ought to have the personal freedom to responsibly use marijuana. But I am also honest about the fact that it is harmful, like the legal drugs of tobacco and alcohol. Lung cancer is the most serious risk factor when it comes to pot smoking. I am also aware that other illegal substances have detrimental effects on our health.
Jon Keller specified that $24 million dollars was spent per year in the Commonwealth dealing with people charged with possession of the drug. This is an unfortunate and wasteful way to spend our money. We must ask: who is benefiting from these archaic drug laws?
The most common argument I hear against decriminalizing small amounts of marjiana is that it will somewhow increase drug use, particularly among children. But, according to the latest research from the Drug Policy Alliance, that is not the case.
Our law enforcement should not be wasting our money and their time dealing with recreational pot smokers and small-time dealers. We can put that $24 million we spend into treatment, to help create the most innovative, effective public drug and alcohol rehabilitative centers in the world. This effort would perfectly blend fiscal responsibility with a compassionate long-term focus. We undoubtedly need to effectively address the needs of our residents addicted to substances like heroine, cocaine, meth, prescription drugs, etc. Let us not forget that marijuana is not on the list of drugs that cause harmful addiction.
Mr. Patrick disappointed me. I did not expect him to take the safe route on this controversial matter.
Grace Ross said it best:
Addiction is not connected with what substances are legal or not…We need to be honest here, and not about criminalizing people who are addicted.