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Where's the Decriminalization?    
Monday, March 05 2012 @ 01:52 PM GMT+4
Contributed by: babalu

Questions & AnswersI've read that there are 14 states that have "decriminalized" marijuana. But, a description of a bill for "decriminalization" in the NH house is confusing, stating the proposed bill is that first offenses would be viola­tions punishable by a $250 fine and the second would be $500 with subsequent offenses subject to a year of jail time and a $1,000 fine; all for possession of "under one-half ounce".

Currently in NH, it is stated that for the same amounts of marijuana (under on-half ounce) the fine is $2,000 and the jail time is up to one year, and it's a misdemeanor.

Aside of the amounts of the fines, and that it takes a third offense to see up to one year in jail, is there really much of a change? Thing is, I can see situations where a person in possession could actually see the first, second and third offense all at once, depending on what they have and where it's discovered.

Authorities already seem to throw the book at people, from what I read, for example, when there's an accident. I've read list of charges that include; "driving too fast for conditions" and "speeding" all for the same single event so have no reason to believe that for example, the same tactic wouldn't be used for finding a baggie, a joint and a pipe all in one location or on one person. (I also object to the use of the word "jail" as it somewhat softens the reality of "prison" ; so what's up with that?)

My question is, with prison still a factor in possession, how on earth does this equate to "decriminalization"? Can anyone explain? Is this typical of what the other 14 states have on the books? Is this what Vermont is also working toward? If so, it seems to fall far short of what I imagined it meant to decriminalize and also opens up the potential that law enforcement (many of whom would not agree with the decriminalization) to work something out where they can skip steps and aim directly toward the prison gate.

 

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  • Where's the Decriminalization? | 11 comments | Create New Account
    The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they may say.
    Where's the Decriminalization?
    Authored by: MRVT on Monday, March 05 2012 @ 03:06 PM GMT+4
    Thanks for your interest in and concern of this very important issue Babalu.

    When Paul Bennett from Marijuana Resolve did an analysis of decrim state-by-state, it was clear that too many states just have another form of criminalization.

    Elements of a better (but not perfect) decrim bill would be similar to what Massachusetts has:
    >$100 fine for possession of 1 oz or under
    >No prison time
    >No prison record
    Of course, regulating marijuana along the Alcohol Model for adult consumption is the best path to take.

    Naturally, you have a strong contingent of law enforcement who does not want marijuana decriminalized or legally regulated. This is especially true for corrections officers, and doubly so for privatized prisons, all of them dependent on a paycheck and departmental funding.
    Senator Jeanette White was our recent guest on the Marijuana Resolve Show to talk about what’s happening with decrim in Vermont (to be aired next week on BCTV, I think). Unfortunately, the bills in the Senate and House will not likely pass this session. This will put decrim off for another one-two years and move it to the 2013-2014 session. The current proposed bills will be scrapped and the VT Assembly has to start all over again.

    Where's the Decriminalization?
    Authored by: babalu on Monday, March 05 2012 @ 03:31 PM GMT+4
    No prison record is a given if there's no prison
    sentence, I'd assume.

    This is all one big fat reefer's worth of
    disappointment!

    Someone told me about a book or an article
    captioned (or titled) "Illegal Everything". I'd like to
    find it. There's such an investment in the prison
    industry.. kind of like VY in some sense.. that it's not
    going to bear fruit for years to come if that industry,
    with big investments, returns on stock, all depending
    upon on the common citizen.. is in any way
    threatened.

    How many more opportunities will pop up where
    people can be "legally robbed" of not only their
    money, but their freedoms. The notion of
    "corrections" to higher and higher numbers of
    "offenses" becomes more ridiculous every day. It's
    pure and simple; the perpetual support of a huge
    and very ugly industry by those in power and those
    who profit from them.
    BILL AS INTRODUCED H.427 (excerpt)
    Authored by: MRVT on Monday, March 05 2012 @ 06:08 PM GMT+4

    H: 427 [VT LEG 265093.1]
    Statement of purpose:

    ADULTS -
    >This bill proposes to change the penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana. A person 21 years of age or older who possesses one ounce or less of marijuana would be assessed a civil fine of up to $150.00, while possession of larger amounts would continue to be a criminal offense subject to imprisonment.

    UNDER-AGED WHO ARE 18-20-
    >Persons 18 to 20 years of age who possesses one ounce or less of marijuana would be assessed a civil fine of up to $150.00 for a first offense, while second or subsequent offenses would require the person to complete a drug awareness and community service program run by court diversion. Failure to complete the program would result in a civil fine of not more than $600.00 and a suspension of the person’s driver’s license for a period of up to 120 days.

    UNDER AGE18 -
    >Persons under the age of 18 who possess one ounce or less of marijuana would be required to complete a drug awareness and community service program run by court diversion for a first offense. A minor who fails to complete the program would be assessed a civil fine of up to $300.00 and would lose his or her driver’s license for 90 days. Subsequent offenses would require the person to complete a drug awareness and community service program run by court diversion. Failure to complete the program would result in a civil fine of not more than $600.00 and a suspension of the person’s driver’s license for a period of up to 120 days.

    BILL AS INTRODUCED H.427
    2011 Page 2 of 12
    VT LEG 265093.1

    Where's the Decriminalization?
    Authored by: annikee on Monday, June 04 2012 @ 07:26 PM GMT+4
    It looks like NY is moving toward decriminalizing, with both Gov. Cuomo and Mayor of NYC Bloomberg giving their support. Bloomie cites the "stop and frisk" rise which has crowded the courts but ended in little else:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/04/cuomo-marijuana-bloomberg-stop-frisk

    ---
    veritas fortis vocat

    Where's the Decriminalization?
    Authored by: Vidda on Monday, June 04 2012 @ 09:16 PM GMT+4

    Thanks for calling attention to this annikee.

    NY State has had decriminalization of marijuana since the late 70's but NYC is its own little world where the police decided to sidestep the law. Stop & Frisk, a form of racial profiling, has been going on for years and both the legislature and Governor's office have been aware of it and have done little or nothing. S&F accounts for huge numbers of marijuana arrests in NYC each year.

    It must be an election year.

    Joseph McNamara's Response to Bloomberg Backs Plan to Limit Arrests for Marijuana
    Authored by: dunder on Sunday, June 10 2012 @ 08:38 PM GMT+4
    "Trying to do something better that shouldn't be done in the first place only creates more problems. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 outlawing Pot should never have been passed.

    As a 35 year cop I can say that it never lessened smoking a drug that isn't dangerous, but outlawing it created a black market enriching crooks and corrupt officials, caused violence in trafficking, led to wholesale violations of civil rights, and caused racial hatred while giving people criminal records for conduct that at the most was mildly harmful to some users.

    The solution produced far more harm than the use of Pot ever could.” ~ Joseph McNamara, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, June 5, 2012

    http://www.hoover.org/fellows/10420

    See also - Vidda letter:
    Can lawmakers do more harm than good?
    Vidda Crochetta letter Published: April 26, 2012
    http://www.timesargus.com/article/20120426/OPINION02/704269963/1022

    There are two things that need to be understood about marijuana arrests in New York City.
    Authored by: dunder on Monday, June 04 2012 @ 11:27 PM GMT+4

    That's right Vidda. To add to that:

    There are two things that need to be understood about marijuana arrests in New York City.

    First, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is not a crime in New York State. Since 1977 and passage of the Marijuana Reform Act, state law has made simple possession of less than seventh-eights of an ounce of pot a violation, like a traffic violation. One can be given a ticket and fined $100 for marijuana possession, but not fingerprinted and jailed. For over thirty years, New York State has formally, legally, decriminalized possession of marijuana.

    Second, despite that law, since 1997 the New York City Police Department has arrested 430,000 people for possessing small amounts of marijuana, mostly teenagers and young people in their twenties. Most people arrested were not smoking pot. Usually they just carried a bit of it in a pocket. In 2008 alone, the NYPD arrested and jailed 40,300 people for possessing a small amount of marijuana. These extraordinary numbers of arrests and jailings, continuing for over twelve years, now make New York City the marijuana arrest capital of the world.

    http://www.alternet.org/drugs/141866/the_epidemic_of_pot_arrests_in_new_york_city/?page=entire

    Secondly, the current NYS decrim activity is related to having marijuana in “public view.”
    Authored by: dunder on Monday, June 04 2012 @ 11:31 PM GMT+4

    Governor Cuomo, a Democrat, has asked legislators to decriminalize the possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana in public view, which is often discovered by police under New York City police's "Stop and Frisk" policy, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. The new law would decrease the penalty from a misdemeanor to a violation to be punished with a maximum $100 for first-time offenders.

    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120604/new-york-decriminalize-marijuana-cuomo-bloomberg

    Secondly, the current NYS decrim activity is related to having marijuana in "public view."
    Authored by: annikee on Tuesday, June 05 2012 @ 11:55 AM GMT+4
    Thanks for all the info. Back in the 70s cops would walk right past you if you were smoking a joint in public in NYC. It was a rare cop who'd even tell you to put it out. Of course you can't smoke anything anywhere anymore these days.

    ---
    veritas fortis vocat
    Where's the Decriminalization?
    Authored by: annikee on Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 01:14 PM GMT+4
    People's World reports on the slow process of decriminalizing pot in the US:
    http://www.peoplesworld.org/efforts-to-relax-marijuana-laws-gain-support/

    ---
    veritas fortis vocat

    Where's the Decriminalization?
    Authored by: Vidda on Tuesday, June 12 2012 @ 01:56 PM GMT+4

    Since the advent of the medical-marijuana lobbyists, both the issue of dicriminalization and legalization have had difficulty breaking through big pharma's interest in pushing marijuana through the prescriptive process.

    Marijuana Resolve firmly supports decriminalization and subsequently the legalization of marijuana for adult consumers along the alcohol-model.

    In the long run, medical marijuana will benefit far less adults, help to perpetuate the criminalizing of Americans needlessly, and do far more harm than good.

    Marijuana Resove will revisit the decrim issue throughout the year and into the 2013 VT legislative session.

    Will you join Daryl and the others with Marijuana Resolve to help this important passage?