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Pot Shot

Most of the time, my postings here revolve around a simple format: here's an issue. Here's what I think of it. Here's why. It's kind of formulaic, but it works for me.

But every now and then I find an issue where I really don't know what to think. I end up with mixed and conflicted opinions, so I just toss it out and let you folks kick it around.

This is one of those times.

In Concord, New Hampshire, our state House has passed a bill decriminalizing marijuana just a little. If it passes the Senate and the governor (no sure thing -- Governor Lynch (a Democrat, like the majority of the House and Senate -- that will become relevant momentarily) has already vowed to veto it), people over the age of 21 caught with less than a quarter-ounce will be subject to no greater than a $200 fine -- nothing more.

In Manchester, the city's mayor, Frank Guinta, is a Republican who is strongly considering challenging Lynch for the governorship this fall. And Mr. Guinta does not support the bill. In fact, he's so against it that he's railing against one of Manchester's representatives personally for his vote.

Representative David Scannelll, like most legislators in New Hampshire, has a second job. (That's kind of necessary when the job of "legislator" pays all of $100.00 a year, plus mileage.) In his second job, he works for the Manchester School District as a spokesman.

To say that Mayor Guinta is unhappy that his school district's spokesman is on record for legalizing marijuana is putting it mildly. He wants Scannell to resign from that job.

I can kind of see Guinta's point. Drugs are a problem in Manchester's schools (I lived less than a block from Central High School for over a decade), and here's a school official going on record saying pot's not that big a deal.

On the other hand, Mr. Scannell's vote would not affect school kids in the slightest. I sincerely doubt that the Manchester school district has any students 21 years old or older, and the existing laws about pot on school grounds would still apply. And Mr. Scannell is not acting here as the spokesman of the district, but the duly-elected representative of his legislative constituency -- and it is they, not the school district, whose interests and beliefs he is representing.

His defense is that his vote was a form of Constitutionally-protected free speech seems a bit much for this particular case, but I think it's applicable -- if a smidgen overly dramatic.

Either way, it's an interesting situation, and I have a hunch how it'll play out: Scannell won't willingly give up either job. Manchester Republicans will try to use it as a cudgel to get Scannell voted out of office and replaced with a Republican in the House, and his employment contract (along with other employees of the Schol District) will be given extra scrutiny in the future, with an eye towards avoiding this sort of thing again.

But the case certainly brings up some fascinating issues...


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Comments (16)

First I am for the de-crimi... (Below threshold)

First I am for the de-criminalization of all drugs.

The war on drugs has been a complete and utter failure.
Costing thousands of lives and billions of dollars producing no tangible result.

Do you think kids are smoking pot(which is illegal and easily obtainable) more than
they are drinking alcohol(probably from their parents liquor cabinet?)

I agree with the commenter.... (Below threshold)

I agree with the commenter. I don't like the idea of abusing drugs, but who are we kidding with this "war on drugs". Let people do what they want with their bodies. It is a matter of choice. IF they want a job of any level of responsibilitiy, they will have to pass a drug screen. ww

I guarantee you no... (Below threshold)
dr lava:

I guarantee you not on child in the state will die from marijuana this year but I bet 5-10 will die in alcohol related accidents.

It is a touchy issue. I do... (Below threshold)

It is a touchy issue. I don't smoke pot myself, but I have friends who do. I don't think any less of them and just like many people who drink responsibly, they smoke responsibly. They don't go to work high or drive or do any manner of things that demand a clear mind. I don't think less of them and I think it would be ridiculous to have to see them serve time in jail for something so benign.

It should be treated like alcohol though. Don't get caught with it in your car (much like the open container laws), don't have it on your person on public streets, etc. But if it's found in your house during some search, it shouldn't be treated any differently than if it were a can of beer.

I think the hard part about it is that it would still be illegal to buy and it's kinda of tough to say something isn't illegal if you can't buy it openly.

Dr. Lava, you could not be ... (Below threshold)

Dr. Lava, you could not be more wrong. Anybody who gets behind the wheel of a car under any influence is a potential killer. ww

I've always said, where do ... (Below threshold)

I've always said, where do you want the front lines to be in the criminalization of drugs? Marijuana or Ecstasy or Meth or Whatever?

Because wherever you choose it to be, kids will be flirting across that line. I'd rather they flirt with pot.

It's this kind of thinking ... (Below threshold)

It's this kind of thinking by some Republicans that makes me wonder about their sensibility. The debate over the criminalization of marijuana should stand alone, and be seen as the abject failure that it truly is.

And legalizing it won't make it any LESS accessible to kids than it already is. Let's face it - it's readily available to anybody that's looking for it.

Now with this guy coming across as some kind of holier-than-thou do-gooder, he's alienating people who seek the traditional Republican / conservative freedom from government interference.

It's high time (no pun intended) that the government started treating adults like adults, and let them be responsible for themselves. That's the very essence of freedom.

You know your a liberal if ... (Below threshold)
Spurwing PLover:

You know your a liberal if you want to ban guns and legalize dope

I guess the solution is to ... (Below threshold)
Baron Von Ottomatic:

I guess the solution is to completely ban any and all matter which might prove attractive to school children.

With the tremendous success America has enjoyed enforcing alcohol and drug prohibition, it shouldn't take long to ensure our schools are free of sugary or fatty foods, soft drinks, rap music with nasty lyrics, sniffable hi-liters, etc. as well.

And why should minors be the only ones suckling our nanny state's teat when there's an entire population out there that needs protection from itself?

I'd say legalize the mariju... (Below threshold)

I'd say legalize the marijuana witht the same restrictions as on alcohol and cigarettes with the same taxes for the importers/growers and on the individual sales. Everybody wins except for the smugglers and small time hoods that might not be able to get importer licenses. When Alcohol was re-legalized and put under some pretty strict guidelines the illegal manufacture, transport etc almost disappeared.

Overall the impression I have of the war on drugs, is that the last few decades it has been more about the war than the drugs. Until the advent of Global War On Terrorism, the war on drugs was the biggest continous assault on our liberties. It has been used to justify almost any kind of civil rights violation imaginable.

Now, in case the post was about the legislator supporting legislation his school district doesn't like, then Boo Hoo for them. His job is to represent the best interests of his constituents, not just the school district. If they don't like it, they can vote him out, or pass a state law similar to the Hatch Act that doesn't allow government employees to hold elective office. Trying to intimidate a legislator with loss of his real job is the act of an unscrupolous man.

There is a lot to say negat... (Below threshold)

There is a lot to say negatively about marijuana, however I also agree that legalization and control of drugs now illegal would make a big dent in the problems we have with our criminal system. Its a huge economy now under the radar. Put it out to the Indian Reservations and or State Stores and have strict DUI enforcement. Collect import and manufacture taxes to support enforcement. Make use of some of the drugs with long term debilitating effects on physical health, cognition and psyche (marijuana, hallucinogenics, meth) illegal for certain occupations and privileges - drivers, gun toters, machine operators, welfare recipients, voters and controllers for example - and enforce it with loss of these privileges.

Hmm. Might make for a real interesting democracy and economy.

<a href="http://www.seacoas... (Below threshold)
Baron Von Ottomatic:
On this issue I agree whole... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

On this issue I agree wholeheartedly with Peter Tosh.

I largely agree with epador... (Below threshold)

I largely agree with epador, although I'll point out that gun onwership and voting are rights, not privliges.

You know, its been an argum... (Below threshold)

You know, its been an argument for quite some time about legalizing it, but how about the real reasons it became illegal? The pros outweigh the cons of the plant time and time again.

The real reason drugs are i... (Below threshold)
Baron Von Ottomatic:

The real reason drugs are illegal? Because during the reconstruction era in 1906 Congress (white men) proclaimed white women were under assault by the cocaine-crazed negro (including stories of how regular bullets bounce off them like so many Supermans requiring larger sidearms...sound familiar?), marijuana-addled Mexican, and opium-peddling Chinaman.

So it's about minorities having sex with white women. That's an ideal we can all get behind, huh?

Oh, and considering the war on drugs consumes ~$60 billion a year there a considerable number of vested interests ready to go Helen Lovejoy (Won't somebody please think of the children!!!) when decrim/legalization arises. See our friend in the article above....

What would our militarized police forces do if they couldn't wage war on people who use drugs?






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