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A WHIFF, OR MORE, OF MARIJUANA

Court got message on decriminalization

April 27, 2011

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THE ONLY people for whom the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana in Massachusetts has proved “disorienting’’ are those in the dwindling minority who believe that possession of marijuana even in small amounts should still be criminal (“Ruling on marijuana searches leaves behind a strange odor,’’ Editorial, April 25).

What is truly disorienting is your assertion that our courts should ignore the people’s democratic decision on this issue. Sixty-five percent of Massachusetts voters made clear in November 2008 that they wanted possession of an ounce or less of marijuana no longer to be a crime.

Afterward, questions did remain about the practical meaning of this vote, but last week’s ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court made things more clear, not less. The court stated strongly that police cannot simply ignore the will of the voters by continuing to treat possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, or other non-criminal acts, as if they provided justification for further investigation.

Criminalizing marijuana makes criminals out of ordinary people and wastes police resources. The people of Massachusetts have had enough of this, and even if some haven’t gotten the message yet, the court did.

Carol Rose
Executive director
American Civil Liberties Union of
Massachusetts
Boston