My Toke on Question 2

Stephanie Fail

It happened! A day I never thought I would live to see. I don’t mean an election that supposedly broke the barriers of an historically racist country, but another subtle struggle against discrimination many Americans have been having. Out of the corner of the Presidential frenzy, finally a word on a vote from the populace that the electorate could not intervene against. Question 2 passed in Massachusetts with 65 percent of the vote.

65 percent of voters actually supported the decriminalization of marijuana! The battle many citizens have been fighting against our nation’s poorly executed drug war won with interesting contradictions. The good part is that the law replaced criminal penalties with a $100 fine and eliminated the effects of being charged with possession that had previously been a thorn in the lives of otherwise law-abiding citizens. Previously, or for the next twenty days the old law has those caught with possession facing penalties of up

to six months in jail and a $500 fine along with a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) report. When I was dragged through this system for a first time possession offense I faced 24 hours of community service, a $300 fine, 6 months of probation, 2 court visits, a warrant and near arrest when I forgot about one of them, and a black mark on my record titled “continued without a finding” that showed up on every criminal check upon my name. It was quite a pain, and I was unemployed for some time due to it. I am not much of a drinker, and cigarettes aren’t my thing, yet the one medicine I enjoy to relax and open up my creative side, that one would have to smoke 14 pounds of to cause death, has remained illegal.

Marijuana has repeatedly been proven less harmful then alcohol, yet due to media exaggeration, tobacco lobbyists, and police who need busywork us greenies have continued to beprosecuted. Those with even a first-time offender record can (though not always) be denied a federal education grant and have lost many a job opportunity for the personal choice of smoking.

The bizarre side of the new law is that now a minor caught with this substance faces even stricter repercussions for their choice to fly high. Question 2’s passing resulted in additional penalties for minors including parental notification, required drug awareness program, 10 hours of community service, and an increased fine of $1,000. Okay, I see the logic in tattling to parents- because their children are breaking the law. I see the benefit in a drug awareness program, because it is important to warn our youth about the dangers of being addicted to anything. Even the 10 hours of community service seems justifiable. Young Jane should pick up trash with some convicts once in awhile or serve soup to homeless addicts. It may even make her a less self-absorbed socially ignorant teenager. Yet the increase of the fine is ridiculous, and greedy on the part of the state. We all know teenagers don’t have time to work many hours because of the

requirements of school. Not to mention if they are trying to save up for college? Their parents will be the ones who end up paying or loaning junior the money. Why must we slap this sector of society, already strained due to the high costs of higher education with such a big bill? Yes, teenagers in general are more likely to do something stupid then the adult populace, but why not give them another 10 hours of service instead? Then at least the ones suffering for the violation won’t be their entire household- but the perpetrators themselves.

Question 2 was a big step forward for the civil rights of this populace but there is much more legislation we the smokers need to push for to truly defend our right to puff. It is still illegal, and the cops if anything will be more proactive in catching offenders and collecting fees for their town. In consideration of the fact that a proportions of binge drinkers die of alcohol poisoning, while binge smokers eat a pizza and pass out, should marijuana be illegal at all?