DAVID GRANOVSKY

High time to legalize marijuana? – Quincy, MA – The Patriot Ledger

In Medical Marijuana on August 29, 2010 at 4:28 pm

High time to legalize marijuana?

Byron Smith/The Enterprise

During a press conference Tuesday, Abington Deputy Police Chief Police Christopher J. Cutter shows bales of marijuana worth more than $1 million that was confiscated from a delivery truck.

By Amy Littlefield

Enterprise Staff Writer

Posted Aug 22, 2010 @ 06:00 AM

Last update Aug 23, 2010 @ 06:23 AM

BROCKTON —

Jean Augustin, 22, of Brockton, thinks using marijuana is OK, “as long as people don’t get too messed up or get into a car when under the influence of it.”

Dom Scolaro, 49, of Easton, used marijuana to ease the nausea from his cancer chemotherapy treatments. He says the Class D substance should be available to everyone, not just those who are sick.

“It’s the only thing that worked for me,” Scolaro said, “and I think it’s a crime that it isn’t legal.”

Forty percent of Americans say they have tried it, 73 percent want it legalized for medical use, but more than 800,000 people still get arrested each year for carrying it.

Despite a growing trend toward legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use, people are still arrested for using and carrying the drug.

Marijuana, also called grass and pot, entered the spotlight after last week’s arrest of Brockton photographer Tommy Colbert, who police allege tried to retrieve 700 pounds of marijuana from an Abington shipping facility. The pot was wrapped in Mexican newspapers and was worth $1 million on the street, police said.

While law enforcement authorities continue busting marijuana dealers, personal use is becoming more and more acceptable in mainstream culture.

Actress Meryl Streep, for example, is shown dragging on marijuana joints in the romantic comedy movie “It’s Complicated.” And before that film, the suburban housewife played by Mary Louise Parker was running a local marijuana business in TV’s “Weeds” show.

Rhode Island, California and 12 other states, plus Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for medical use, and a California ballot measure this year would make it legal for adults 21 and older to grow small amounts of pot for recreational use.

In 2008, Massachusetts reduced the penalty for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana to a ticket and a $100 fine. The Bay State joined 11 other states that already had decriminalization laws on the books.

Law enforcement officials acknowledge the state measure created a contradictory scenario.

“That (one ounce of) marijuana comes from 700-pound shipments – one’s legal and the other’s illegal.” said Raynham Police Chief Louis Pacheco. “How does that work? What’s the rationalization of that?”

“I think they should either make it legal or not legal,” he said.

A majority of voters in every community in The Enterprise coverage area supported the measure when it went before the voters two years ago.

Last week, according to a poll on The Enterprise website, 69 percent of those who participated supported having the state legalize marijuana and tax it as they do alcohol and cigarettes. The other 31 percent of readers oppose legalization, saying marijuana is a gateway drug.

Legalization advocates argue that law enforcement is wasting resources on a drug that doesn’t kill people.

In 2008, 847,863 people nationwide were charged with marijuana offenses, down slightly from 872,720 arrests in 2007. About 89 percent of the arrests were for possession, not for selling the drug.

“It’s a huge mis-allocation of resources,” said Mike Meno, communications director for the Washington, D.C.,-based Marijuana Policy Project. “Meanwhile, there are murders, and rapes and burglaries that are going unsolved.”

Mexican drug cartels reap about 60 percent of their profits in U.S. pot sales, taking in $8.6 billion in 2006 alone. As American pot-smokers fund the cartels, the U.S. government has spent billions fighting the unsuccessful Mexican drug war.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon said earlier this month that he would support a debate about legalization of all drugs as a way to address drug-related violence, which has killed more than 28,000 people since 2006.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox later blogged his support for legalization.

“Radical prohibition strategies have never worked, he said.

Enterprise staff writer Amanda Reed contributed to this story. Amy Littlefield can be reached at alittlef@enterprisenews.com.

via High time to legalize marijuana? – Quincy, MA – The Patriot Ledger.

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