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.]