Keep Pot Smokers Out of the Joint, Lose Your Job

This week the New Hampshire House of Representatives approved a bill that would make possessing a quarter ounce or less of marijuana, currently a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine, a violation with a maximum penalty of a $200 fine. In addition to calling the current penalties disproportionate, legislators who supported the bill said they didn't think young people should be saddled with a criminal record that bars them from federal college aid and hurts their employment prospects simply for smoking pot.

Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta, by contrast, thinks you should lose your job simply for supporting lighter pot penalties. He has called upon state Rep. David Scannell (D-Hillsborough), who voted for the decriminalization bill, to resign from his job as spokesman for the Manchester School District:

He's the face of the district. He interacts with kids on a daily basis, and he is taking a position to decriminalize marijuana. That is counter to logic, in my view....

We have drug policies that the district is responsible for adhering to, and the person who is responsible for public relations is taking a completely counter view. I think that is going to impact [his] credibility with parents and students.

Guinta could be right. It might improve Scannell's credibility if people think he has some perspective and sense of proportion on the subject of drugs. "I don't know what the mayor's deal is," a Republican legislator who voted against the decrim bill told the Manchester Union Leader. "A majority of the House voted for it."

The bill has not been considered by the state Senate yet, and Gov. John Lynch has promised to veto it.

[Thanks to Matthew Carano for the tip.]

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  • ||

    We have drug policies that the district is responsible for adhering to, and the person who is responsible for public relations is taking a completely counter view. I think that is going to impact [his] credibility with parents and students.

    Not so sure about this, in a democratic society policies may be changed. On the other hand, making the already very lenient penalties more lenient may send an inappropriate message to kids that drug abuse is OK. I don't know what an appropriate penalty is, perhaps what it currently is.

  • jj||

    Sex outside of marriage is not okay to many of us. Does that mean we should be jailing men and women who wreck their families by having affairs? Of course not. Paleos believe that there is a place for "sending a message" to society about the morality of drugs and other vices. But it's not via bimbo-bonking politicians. Private institutions such as synagogue and church have been doing it more effectively than government for thousands of years.

    Drug abuse is not "okay". But robbing someone of their freedom and career prospects is even worse thuggery. I hope you'll reconsider your predilection to fascism.

  • GG||

    On the other hand, making the already very lenient penalties more lenient may send an inappropriate message to kids that drug abuse is OK.

    There's a difference between drug "use" and drug "abuse." Frankly, if they're going to look for thrills, I'd rather my kids smoke dope than drink booze or do the synthetic drugs that are popular these days.

    Incidentally, "American Drug War" is rerunning on Showtime this month.

  • ||

    I agree Frank, most "illegal" substances were perfectly legal and available for sale only a century ago.

    The state legislatures and many citizens are starting to "get it". Cracks are beginning to form under the once solidly monolithic resolve to keep responsible drug users dope fiends locked up or otherwise marginalized by drug testing and other means of behavior control. The Potemkin Village called war on some drugs is being exposed for the lie it is.

    The beginnings of the end of the war on some drugs is here. Given the economic situation and people waking up to the realization that there is no free lunch when it comes to restricting the liberties of responsible, hard working, tax paying citizens who happen to use a little cannabis.

  • ||

    "Drug abuse is not "okay"."

    But it is a personal choice and none of the government's business. It is no less destructive than staying in a bad marriage or incuring huge gambling debts which our politicians do every day.

    /responsible drug use is not drug abuse.

  • TallDave||

    This week the New Hampshire House of Representatives approved a bill that would make possessing a quarter ounce or less of marijuana, currently a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine, a violation with a maximum penalty of a $200 fine

    Outstanding.

    Live Free or High!

  • ||

    This would be a step in the right direction. However, as long as it's still a crime nothing is going to fundamentally change. You still have to deal with criminals. You won't be able to buy it over the counter like alcohol. You won't be able to depend on potency and quality like with a brand name beer.

    And of course the market will adapt to the new law. Lower penalties lowers the risk of dealing small quantities. More small time dealers mean more competition at lower prices. And of course usage will go up. The results will be grist for the WOD mill with crys of "See! We told you so! We have to protect the Children."

  • jj||

    It is no less destructive than staying in a bad marriage or incuring huge gambling debts which our politicians do every day.

    Ironic, isn't it, that the people (i.e. politicians) the religious right turn to to remedy society's vices are disproportionately guilty of them themselves?

  • ||

    "Incidentally, "American Drug War" is rerunning on Showtime this month."

    Should be required viewing for everyone here at the least. I recorded it and have shared it with my girlfriend and a former co-worker.

    I saw "American Drug War" and then I saw "John Adams" on HBO and I was brought to tears by how far we have strayed from the path the founders set for us. I fear we are in for more tyranny before the revolution comes.

    /King George now and then
    //Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper, hemp paper no less. (snark)

  • ||

    Lynch (who all and all is an OK Governor) is going to veto it for the children, because it sends the wrong message.

    Gov. Lynch's spokesman Colin Manning said the bill "sends absolutely the wrong message to New Hampshire's young people about the very real dangers of drug use. That is why the governor joins the House Criminal Justice Committee and law enforcement in opposing this bill. If the bill were to reach the governor's desk, which seems very unlikely, he would veto it."

    'cause we all know that the best way to send a message to kids is to throw their parents in jail and send them into foster care for smoking a dube.

  • ||

    As always, the real trouble with drug law reform, is that it sends the right message.

  • ||

    'cause we all know that the best way to send a message to kids is to throw their parents in jail and send them into foster care for smoking a dube.

    Perhaps it's illegality will keep those parents away from drugs. If they are so in need of drugs that they are willing to break the law, then they have a drug problem.

    I don't think they should be in jail though for a first offense, probably some type of manditory treatment would be better. We need more drug courts.

  • ||

    "On the other hand, making the already very lenient penalties more lenient may send an inappropriate message to kids that drug abuse is OK."

    Right now we are sending the message that if you sneak around and keep your lies straight, you can be a drug abuser and that's OK, until you're caught, then you're a dope fiend and you should end up broke and in prison or dead, because you didn't do it on alcohol or prescription pain pills.

  • ||

    "Perhaps it's illegality will keep those parents away from drugs. If they are so in need of drugs that they are willing to break the law, then they have a drug problem."

    Just like all them alcoholics who couldn't stay away from those speakeasies and that yummy hooch during prohibition.

    /NASCAR was founded by moonshine runners
    //Damn alcoholics, drinking their legal drugs any time they want and getting away with it.
    ///actually alcoholics can drink themselves into the grave for all I care.

  • ||

    until you're caught, then you're a dope fiend and you should end up broke and in prison or dead, because you didn't do it on alcohol or prescription pain pills.

    Or rich, a celebrity, or politician

  • jj||

    Frank, would you be willing to send all politicians were known to do drugs to jail? Or is it just the ordinary, vulnerable citizen you want to send there? After all, if we don't take a tough line on the politicians, we'd be sending the wrong message to the kids, don't you think?

  • ||

    Frank, would you be willing to send all politicians were known to do drugs to jail?

    If they are using, sure, and it is not beyond the statue of limitations.

    "Drug abuse is not "okay"."

    But it is a personal choice and none of the government's business.


    But not if it lead to crime, decreased productivity, etc. These downstream effects are the governments business.

    I saw "American Drug War" and then I saw "John Adams" on HBO and I was brought to tears by how far we have strayed from the path the founders set for us.

    It was a simpler, safer time then, they didn't have a war on drugs, terrorism, etc. Everything changed after 9-11.

    We are probably not respecting rights though in waging these wars. We need a better balance between individual rights and the need for a war on drugs.

  • jj||

    But not if it lead to crime, decreased productivity, etc. These downstream effects are the governments business.

    So you'd jail alcoholics also? What about smokers? I'm curious as to your vices, and whether you would offer yourself up to be jailed for them?

  • robc||

    On the other hand, making the already very lenient penalties more lenient may send an inappropriate message to kids that drug abuse is OK.

    No it doesnt. At least for kids with good parents. My parents (especially my Mom) made it very clear that there were things that were legal that *I* was not allowed to do. I would have never been confused by the message of lowering the penalty. That message is clearly "the penalty is too high" not "hey kids - do drugs". I wouldnt have even got the 2nd message from outright legalization.

  • Mr. Obvious||

    If smoking a doob get kids where Bloomberg, Obama, Clinton and Bush are in life, and not partaking gets you where Spitzer is, I'd say smart kids are going to start puffing.

  • Capt Holly Short||

    Frank's vice is trolling websites.

  • fabbro||

    But not if it lead to crime, decreased productivity, etc. These downstream effects are the governments business.

    So, if drug use does not lead to criminal behavior such as robbery, you don't think it should be penalized?

    Or should all commerce be criminalized since it is associated with most violent and destructive behavior?

  • TallDave||

    Heh, reminds me of the Soviets:

    Perhaps it's illegality will keep those parents away from free speech. If they are so in need of free speech that they are willing to break the law, then they have a free speech problem.

    Fortunately, they had the Gulag Rehab Centers to help those parents shake their illegal habit of criticizing the government.

  • Yakov Smirnov||

    In Soviet Russia, drug uses you!

  • TallDave||

    But not if it lead to crime, decreased productivity, etc. These downstream effects are the governments business.

    In that spirit, think it's time for a War On Excessive Napping.

    Hey, you're wasting valuable productive time with your unethical pillow abuse.

  • ||

    "But not if it lead to crime, decreased productivity, etc. These downstream effects are the governments business."

    I believe this is the single most common used argument for the WOD. It's also the silliest and most fallacious. Those downstream crimes you are referring to are already illegal and nobody is arguing for decriminalizing robbery. Most of those downstream effects would be wiped out by ending prohibition.
    You are basically arguing that we should throw someone in jail for what they MIGHT do, instead of what they HAVE done.

  • ||

    So you'd jail alcoholics also?

    Alcohol is accepted, it has a long history of safe use in western society.

    So, if drug use does not lead to criminal behavior such as robbery, you don't think it should be penalized?

    It has been determined to likely lead to those things.

  • ||

    Determined by whom?

  • robc||

    it has a long history of safe use in western society.

    So does pot and cocaine.

  • The Democratic Republican||

    Thought you all would be interested in this: the fiscal impact and Judicial Branch analyses attached to the bill mentioned in this post (New Hampshire HB1623) estimates "indeterminable" savings to the state and counties. They anticipate NO negative repurcussions:

    http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2008/hb1623.html

  • TallDave||

    Alcohol is accepted, it has a long history of safe use in western society.

    How do you figure that? Drunk driving, alcoholism, I could go on. It's much worse than weed.

    Marijuana has the lowest toxicity ratio of any pharmaceutically active substance known. Safer than aspirin. It has been used safely for millennia by numerous cultures.

  • TallDave||

    So, if drug use does not lead to criminal behavior such as robbery, you don't think it should be penalized?

    It has been determined to likely lead to those things.


    If you made food illegal, food "abuse" would lead to crime too.

  • Charles||

    Frank is a spoof, people. "Everything changed after 9-11" should have clued you in. You're only rewarding him/her/it.

  • Pablo Escobar||

    Why on earth does America give a single person the "veto" power?

    Does that not seem illogical and undemocratic to anyone here except me (I'm an Australian)?

  • Geotpf||

    Pablo Escobar | March 20, 2008, 6:28pm | #

    Why on earth does America give a single person the "veto" power?

    Does that not seem illogical and undemocratic to anyone here except me (I'm an Australian)?


    Vetos can be overturned, usually by a two thirds majority of both houses of the state (or Federal) legislature.

    That is, to pass something, you need support of 50%+1 in both houses (state or feds), plus the support of the president or governor, or just the support of two thirds+1 in both houses if the president or governor vetos it. Overturning a veto is not very common (either at the state or Federal level), but it does happen.

  • Kevin Carson||

    A pothead sets a lot better example for kids than somebody who uses "impact" as a verb.

  • ||

    This is going to be a hell of a fight in the NH Senate - please consider donating to or contacting New Hampshire Common Sense to see what you can do to help. Matt Simon did an awesome job helping to turn this bill around in the House, and we need as much help as possible in the coming weeks!

  • ||

    Kevin

    Language changes. You would know this had you "googled" impact.

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/impact

    "Usage Note: The use of impact as a verb meaning "to have an effect" often has a big impact on readers. Eighty-four percent of the Usage Panel disapproves of the construction to impact on, as in the phrase social pathologies, common to the inner city, that impact heavily on such a community; fully 95 percent disapproves of the use of impact as a transitive verb in the sentence Companies have used disposable techniques that have a potential for impacting our health.·It is unclear why this usage provokes such a strong response, but it cannot be because of novelty. Impact has been used as a verb since 1601, when it meant "to fix or pack in," and its modern, figurative use dates from 1935. It may be that its frequent appearance in the jargon-riddled remarks of politicians, military officials, and financial analysts continues to make people suspicious. Nevertheless, the verbal use of impact has become so common in the working language of corporations and institutions that many speakers have begun to regard it as standard. It seems likely, then, that the verb will eventually become as unobjectionable as contact is now, since it will no longer betray any particular pretentiousness on the part of those who use it"

  • GILMORE||


    "So, if drug use does not lead to criminal behavior such as robbery, you don't think it should be penalized?"

    It has been determined to likely lead to those things.


    Uh, poverty and poor education and no parents in the home 'lead to those things'. Let's lock em all up!

    I grew up with dozens of kids who smoked pot EVERY DAY for years and years and years... some of whom still do. Not a one has committed so much as an act of indecent behavior in public. They are now doctors, lawyers, investment bankers, school teachers, and in one case, a secret service agent. (he quit. cest la vie)

    I, on the other hand, sometimes get so drunk that i break stuff, scream nonsense, fall over and cant remember any of it the next day.

    God bless the irish!

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