In your view that “Rhode Island can learn from Massachusetts pot laws” (OUR VIEW: “Decriminalize pot in RI,” Jan. 23, Page B2) you assert that any Rhode Island decriminalization legislation must address three supposed defects in Massachusetts’ law.

These defects only exist in the minds of law enforcement who, having lost the power to handcuff people for possessing marijuana, continue to wage a campaign against the new law.

Although “Massachusetts’ law does “not require offenders to correctly identify themselves or show identification,” as a practical matter, this does not prevent police from enforcing the law as most possession offenders are captured, as before passage of the initiative, because they committed another crime for which they may still be handcuffed and are required to correctly identify themselves. Furthermore, those who would remain silent or give a false name are very rare, as the natural response when asked by a man with a badge and gun your name and address is to provide it. The claim the law does not “provide a way to force them to pay the fines” is false. The offense being a civil matter, a small claims complaint is the collection mechanism.

Massachusetts lead the way to independence in 1775. In 1911, it lead the way to demonizing cannabis. In 2008, it joined Maine as the only other New England state to decriminalize. With the Massachusetts Legislature facing a $2 billion budget deficit, and the nation a multi trillion-dollar debt, it is time to recognize that Massachusetts and the Union cannot afford to prohibit commerce in cannabis by adults and finally cure the “reefer madness”

After all, we are writing about the same plant, which in 1763, writing above the nom de plume, Humphrey Ploughjogger, John Adams wrote, “We shall by and by want a world of hemp more for our own consumption.”

Steven S. Epstein, Esq.


Letter: Law enforcement should pipe down on pot
The Herald News (Fall River), Tues, Jan. 25, 2011
Letter: Law enforcement should pipe down on pot, Tues, Jan. 25, 2011
Letter: Law enforcement should pipe down on pot, Tues, Jan. 25, 2011
Letter: Law enforcement should pipe down on pot, Mon, Jan. 24, 2011