Drug Policy on the Ballot

The Drug War Chronicle offers a rundown of drug-policy-related initiatives on Tuesday's ballots. The highlights are the Massachusetts marijuana decriminalization intiative (which I discussed on Wednesday), a Michigan initiative legalizing the medical use of marijuana, and a California initiative that expands the diversion of drug offenders from jail to treatment. The California initiative, Proposition 5, also would reduce possession of up to an ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor to an infraction. The penalty, a $100 fine, would remain the same, but the change would eliminate the burden that minor marijuana possession prosecutions impose on pot smokers and the courts.

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  • CK||

    Regarding those anti-drug-war initiatives, I see two potentially worrisome developments. Both stem from problems with drafting legislation; one would lead to over-leniency and another could lead to intensification of Drug War prosecutions.

    I'd be very interested to know Jacob Sullum's opinions on these two potential pitfalls:


    § - On CA Prop 5, Kevin Drum argues that "Thanks to fuzzy wording, it might allow violent criminals to evade jail time merely by claiming that their crimes were in the service of a drug habit, and it might cripple some of the state's most successful rehabilitation programs." Is this a realistic danger?

    § On MA Question 2, the law says that people can receive a civil infraction if they merely have marijuana metabolites in their system. Given that such metabolites stay in the system for up to a month, could this lead to a more invasive--albeit less punitive--enforcement of anti-marijuana ordinance?



  • ||

    There's a great ad running in Massachusetts. A retired police chief describes the effects of being arrested on drug charges - loss of student loans, loss of job, loss of credit - and ends by saying "I became a police officer to catch bad guys, not ruin people's futures because they made a mistake."

  • LarryA||

    So, another thirty or forty states and maybe the Feds will get the word.

  • ||

    Anyone know how these are polling? I'm especially interested in CA, because I understand the scare tactics are out in full force there. Mainly it's union labor being scared of jobs going away.

  • ||

    So, what's the polling on these?

    it might allow violent criminals to evade jail time merely by claiming that their crimes were in the service of a drug habit, and it might cripple some of the state's most successful rehabilitation programs." Is this a realistic danger?

    "In the service of a drug habit" is pretty fuzzy. However, I have a really hard time seeing it applied so that the commission of a violent crime is "in the service of a drug habit." The closest precedents are probably those saying that being intoxicated or under the influence is not a defense, and I don't see this language changing that.

  • libertarian democrat||

    What channel Joe?

    I only get the nurse telling us that we want an income tax, and stuff about property taxes for 1 and dog track workers looking for sympathy for 3.

    I've seen no 2 ads yet.

  • libertarian democrat||

    Also, do you know anything about 3? About how dogs are treated and such?

    Sorry for randomness.

    -J

  • ||

    Guess how I'm gonna vote on medical marijuana?

  • ||

    I don't recall, l.d. It might have been one of those deals where the local cable station sells air time during a national broadcast.

    I don't know much about dog racing.

  • Just Plain Brian||

    Guess how I'm gonna vote on medical marijuana?



    Slowly?

  • ||

    Guess how I'm gonna vote on medical marijuana?

    Not-Considering-"Sun Chips"-To-Be-Actual-Food Syndrome effects hundreds of millions of Americans.

    Won't you please help?

  • ||

    Guess how I'm gonna vote on medical marijuana?

    Well, if I'm understanding my hardcore libertarian principles correctly, you're supposed to vote "no" on it because you don't think it should be marijuana for JUST medical use that is legalized. :)

  • libertarian democrat||


    Well, if I'm understanding my hardcore libertarian principles correctly, you're supposed to vote "no" on it because you don't think it should be marijuana for JUST medical use that is legalized. :)


    Libertarian arguments like this always make me cry a bit inside.

  • ||

    Well, if I'm understanding my hardcore libertarian principles correctly, you're supposed to vote "no" on it because you don't think it should be marijuana for JUST medical use that is legalized. :)

    Libertarian arguments like this always make me cry a bit inside.



    Me too. Think same sex marriage. Fools make the perfect the enemy of the good.

  • ||

    "I became a police officer to catch bad guys, not ruin people's futures because they made a mistake."

    Sigh...a "mistake"? It's disheartening that even the pro-Q2 people can't get away from the Drugs Are BAD mantra. I guess that's what it takes to sell it to the voters. But still...

  • ||

    There's a great ad running in Massachusetts.

    I heard this on the radio last night. Pretty good ad.

    What channel Joe?

    I believe I heard it on 102.1 out of Springfield.

  • libertarian democrat||

    JsD,

    Exactly. I've heard them in other areas too. They are always completely bizarre, and I always wonder if the people using them actually believe them.

  • Les||

    It is essential to support any criminal justice referendum opposed by the last 5 governors of California and the prison guards' union.

  • ||

    I just voted for prop 5 yesterday (mail-in). It felt weird. If all possibilities w.r.t drug policy were on the ballot, that would have been my infinity-1th choice, but I only had the two.

  • ||

    Think they'll let you pre-pay for the year?

  • Anonymous Wanker||

    MP: Getting caught is the mistake. At least that's my interpretation, although the statement is nicely ambiguous.

  • ||

    in Michigan, Prop 1 (medical marijuana) was polling about 60/35 for. this was a couple of days ago, according to the Detroit Free Press.

  • ||

    "I became a police officer to catch bad guys, not ruin people's futures because they made a mistake got caught in a net of bad laws originally designed to persecute and enslave minorities."

    There, fixed it for him. The sooner these bureaucrats with sidearms start doing their jobs, solving crimes and bringing real violent thugs or actual thieves, looking at you all you white collared corporate pin stripped bandits, to justice the safer we will all be.

  • ||

    A bill to reduce marijuana possession to an infraction has been introduced more than once. It has been opposed by the Marijuana Policy Project on the grounds that it will deprive those cited for possession of their rights to counsel and to trial by jury, since appointed counsel and jury trials are available for misdemeanors but not infractions.

    I disagree with this viewpoint because the employment consequences of a misdemeanor conviction are generally much more severe than for an infraction. I think most people would rather pay the damn fine and not have a criminal record than to have a jury trial and a court-appointed lawyer, followed by a criminal record if they are convicted. Going through a trial is, for most folks, more of a hassle than just paying a fine.

  • ||

    I think most people would rather pay the damn fine and not have a criminal record than to have a jury trial and a court-appointed lawyer, followed by a criminal record if they are convicted.

    If you want the damn trial so bad, you can always refuse to pay the fine. Eventually it will escalate into some kind of criminal offense, and you can go broke paying attorneys if that's really what you want.

  • Kaiser||

    I have no idea why California is adding the decriminalization of marijuana. They might as well just legalize it, their MMJ policy is so lax(sp?) it really doesn't matter. Anyone can get a card with about 200$ and a visit to your doctor. In just a few hours for almost anything short of a hang nail you can legally carry an ounce on you and have like 6 plants growing at home.

  • ||

    kaiser, unfortunately there are still a lot of police departments in CA, the LAPD most prominently, that still cooperate with the FBI in shutting down medical facilities and generally resist adopting the policies their citizens have voted for. Right now they can fall back on the argument that it's still a serious crime and should be investigated. If it's a violation it won't help a cop get a promotion anymore. Removes a pretty big incentive to pursue it.

  • Warty||

    So I have an aunt who's getting chemo right now, and the thought occurred to me that I should get her a half ounce or so of bud and maybe a vaporizer too. Does anyone know anything about vaporizers? I can't imagine my aunt would want to use my old bong...

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