Archive for March 16, 2009

Help Connecticut Decriminalize Marijuana

Connecticut is ready. As reported earlier, a groundbreaking poll demonstrated that Connecticut voters support the decriminalization of marijuana – perhaps even more than Massachusetts voters did before Question 2 passed. (I say ‘perhaps’ because there is some room for polling error, and the comparison depends on whether you use the lukewarm polls three weeks before the election or the smashing, 65% support on election day).

But that’s all nitpicking. Connecticut is considering Senate Bill 349, which would create in Connecticut a mirror policy to the one newly implemented in Massachusetts. If you would like to see Connecticut decriminalize marijuana, contact your state senator and ask them to support the bill. NORML has a good form letter available. Here is an alternative:

Dear Senator ___________ (name of Senator)

A recent study published by Quinnipiac University demonstrated that 58% of Connecticut voters support using fines, rather than arrests, to enforce minor marijuana possession laws. Thirteen other states have enacted similar decriminalization laws without an increase in marijuana use.

The Connecticut Law Review Commission has published a report stating ‘The legislature should review and further consider as a strategy option establishing the offense of infraction for adults twenty-one years of age or older who possess one ounce or less of marijuana.’ Senate Bill 349 is an opportunity to enact appropriate penalties for marijuana possession while reducing state expenses. I urge you to adjust our marijuana policies to reflect more approriately the gravity of the offense by supporting Senate Bill 349.


______________ (your name)

The bill was introduced by Senators Martin Looney and Toni Harp.

March 16, 2009 at 10:16 pm 1 comment

Oregon Considers Legalizing, Taxing, and Regulating Marijuana

California might have to hurry up if it wants to be the first state to legalize marijuana. While Assembly Bill 390 is still in its early stages there, House Bill 3274 in Oregon would legalize (and regulate) marijuana within the state, adding a tax of $98/ounce – in other words, $3.50 per gram. According to The Raw Story, it would ‘direct the state to establish and operate a marijuana production facility…The state would control potency and pharmacy distribution’. Oregon Live reports:

“Oregonians have voted to authorize the use of medical marijuana, yet the Legislature has failed to provide adequate safeguards for citizens who have a legitimate need for it,” said Rep. Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie, in a prepared statement. 

House Bill 3274 would levy a $98 per ounce tax on marijuana, to cover the state’s production and distribution costs.

“Many patients have no assurance that their marijuana is not laced with pesticides or other toxic chemicals,” said Rep. Jim Thompson, R-Dallas. “If passed into law, this legislation will implement safe standards to dispense the drug through a tightly-controlled system.”

Rep. Ron Maurer, R-Grants Pass, and Rep. Chris Harker, D-Beaverton, are also sponsors of the bill.

They’ve hit the nail on the head with regard to a glaring problem with any decriminalization of marijuana or legalization for medicinal use (perhaps even, I might argue, in the Netherlands). While it is legal for people to possess marijuana for medicinal purposes,  obtaining the medicine still requires some form of illegal activity. And, as with most illegal activity, this comes with some form of risk. I think that most patients would be willing to pay an extra $3.50 per gram in order to be able to buy their joint at a local pharmacy, complete with the knowledge that it has not been laced with any other substance.

And here, we have a great example of how the legal market could run an underground market out of business.I can’t imagine a person who would want to save $3.50 so badly that they would rather go through all of the risks of the illegal drug trade. With one swift gesture, the government could protect its citizens’ safety, protect its citizens’ civil liberties, destroy the largest component of the illegal drug trade, increase national security, and make a tidy profit from it all. All while advertising the merits of being bipartisan.

Now if only clearing up the economy were that easy.

March 16, 2009 at 10:11 am Leave a comment


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