Editorials and Opinions

Opposing Viewpoints: Extinguish ballot question 2? Pro-Light the spark on #2

By Denebola
Published: October 2008

1edits.jpgBy Jason Kuo

I am not a pothead. I have neither tried marijuana, nor do I plan to anytime soon. My view is that smoking is just another variable to deal with, a complication which I choose to keep out of my life.

That said, I am an ardent supporter of Ballot Question 2, which proposes the decriminalization of marijuana in Massachusetts, as it is a positive step forward.

Presently, penalties for those caught with small amounts of cannabis are extremely severe; not only can they be fined $500; they can also face up to six month of jail time. If arrested and charged, an offender will have a ‘Ëœblack mark’ on his or her record for the rest of the person’s life.

This makes it significantly more difficult to receive important benefits such as federal student loans. It just seems incredibly irrational and unfair that anyone should receive this amount of punishment for less than a handful of dried up plants.

Specifically, marijuana decriminalization under the proposed ballot question would reduce penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana to just a $100 fine for anyone above the age of 18. If the offender is below the age 18, he or should would simply have to complete a drug awareness program and pay the same $100 fine.

If the goal of current marijuana possession laws is to discourage and reduce marijuana possession and, by deduction, its use, then it has failed. According to National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), there have been approximately 10,000 marijuana possession arrests per year.

Proposition 2 is a good first step, but the fundamental point runs deeper than decriminalization. While the effects of drugs can be disastrous, so too can be the effects of prohibition. Prohibition of a substance breeds crime and government corruption, demonstrated perfectly in the 1920s and 1930s when alcohol was banned.

A prominent reason marijuana is not considered for decriminalization, or even legalization, is simply because the ban is so engrained in our conscience. People should realize that government does not have the authority to decide what people can and cannot do with their bodies. Looking past even just marijuana, if a person makes the conscious decision to hurt their bodies and mind, that is their decision.

I understand that there have to be penalties to ensure the general public’s safety. It seems absurd to me, however, for the government to punish people for a “crime that some would not even consider as harmful or dangerous as drinking alcohol.

No, I am not a pothead. But supporting a fundamental change in marijuana policy is not just a cause for potheads. It is a cause for anyone who supports common sense.

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