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Unlikely Allies

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
If the statewide movement to decriminalize marijuana is ever made into a movie, a Hollywood producer would probably ask Sean Penn to reprise his celebrated role as the unmotivated stoner Jeff Spicoli.

But that would be the sort of typecasting that misses the point of New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy, its members say.

Among those pushing for decriminalization are a soccer mom, selectman and two doctorate students.

Perhaps more telling of how coalition members don't fit the pot-smoking stereotype, they say, is that four of them don't use the drug, while two others say they need it for medicinal purposes.

"I don't smoke, and I don't drink. But I'm a really strong believer in decriminalization of marijuana," said Campton resident Jan Stearns, the soccer mom of the bunch.

"I'm a 48-year-old mother of two teens," she said. "I listen to people say marijuana corrupts our youth . . . but that's a bunch of baloney. There's no science behind it. We're living with a myth. Prohibition is not working."

To Stearns and other coalition members, the effort to decriminalize marijuana is less about getting high and more about personal freedom. The coalition acknowledges that marijuana can be harmful, but it believes the criminalization of private, recreational use is more damaging to society in wasted tax dollars and unjustified criminal records.

The newly-formed group's first act is to back a House bill that would legalize the use of marijuana and aim to regulate its sale.

But with just a few lawmakers and one former New Hampshire police officer in their corner, coalition members concede they have a big hill to climb.

They contend the American public has fallen for a dubious law enforcement argument that marijuana leads to the usage of harder drugs. And they realize if the bill becomes law, it probably won't offer complete legalization of marijuana.

"The biggest challenge is getting people over their fears," said Matt Simon, an Amherst resident and spokesman for the coalition.

Unafraid of a stigma

James McGarr, a 42-year-old Campton selectman, doesn't care what his constituents will say about his activism for marijuana decriminalization.

"I learned if I'm going to fight a war, I have to be prepared to lose everything," McGarr said. "I know enough that I am ready to do my part to make this right."

McGarr didn't directly answer if he uses marijuana, but he said that with three children, he doesn't want to risk getting arrested for possession. Like other coalition members, he makes the argument that many straight-laced and otherwise law-abiding citizens use marijuana.

Stearns, one of his constituents, told her employer that her name would be attached to a cause that "may be a problem." But her boss was accepting of her fight, and she's ready to stand out even if it means other soccer moms cast aspersions.

Moreover, Stearns believes her view on marijuana won't encourage her 18-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter to try it, but will rather help children who do use it.

"I'm confident that my kids aren't smoking pot," Stearns said. "It should be treated like alcohol and cigarettes: Kids shouldn't be doing it. But kids are pushed into the criminal system if they're caught with it. And kids on all other medicines are punishing their bodies worse than with pot."

Stephanie Murphy, a 22-year-old Dartmouth College medical student, has already told her parents and friends she's publicly supporting marijuana decriminalization efforts.

Murphy says she doesn't use the drug. But after studying the health effects of marijuana — "not completely good, but it is certainly safer than cigarettes and alcohol" — she decided to support the coalition.

"The arguments speak for themselves," Murphy said. "People can think what they want about me, but I'm not going to kowtow to prevailing opinion. I'm not going to compromise my principles because it's not a popular opinion."

Murphy herself hasn't studied marijuana in a lab, but she points to research conducted by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws on the drug's health effects.

"There's a lot of good data," Murphy said. "It can help people with autoimmune disease, MS, glaucoma, nausea from AIDS medication. It's not just something that can be enjoyed. One day I hope I can prescribe it to patients."

Although he's also unafraid to publicly endorse marijuana use, 25-year-old Ian Taschner says he feels stigmatized after two arrests for possession. "It stinks. I've got kind of a bad rap now, like I'm some rebel," he said. "I don't shoot people. I don't do other drugs at all."

Taschner, a University of New Hampshire graduate student who aspires to be a synthetic organic chemist, says he uses marijuana for medicinal reasons. If his finances allow, Taschner said he usually melts down cannabis to a liquid form, buttering his toast with marijuana to help alleviate an anxiety disorder. If he's pressed for time, he'll smoke it.

In California, where Taschner was born, recreational and medicinal use of marijuana is accepted by citizens and even tolerated by law enforcement, he said. "Until you move to New Hampshire, then they think you're the devil," he said.

Blazing for change

Eleven states allow medicinal marijuana use, and 13 states treat possession of small amounts of the drug as a penalty and not a felony offense. But no state has blanket legalization of sales or usage.

The New Hampshire House bill seeks to strike down all criminalization of marijuana. The bill, currently in committee, could ultimately reach some sort of middle ground, Simon said. The coalition would accept a law that makes possession of an ounce or less a civil offense and not a crime, he said.

"The bill is a radical statement," Simon said. "It takes marijuana out of the criminal code. We know that's not going to happen."

Nonetheless, the coalition will still promote the benefits of marijuana decriminalization and the social and economic harm in criminalizing its use, Simon and other members said.

Public tax dollars are wasted as law enforcement arrests people for possessing small amounts of marijuana, labeling them with a criminal record that's similar to someone using or selling harder drugs, coalition members said. Prosecution for marijuana can lead to other social problems, such as preclusion from obtaining a student loan, they said.

Most police officers and prosecutors take a different stance. At a hearing to review the House bill, state police Maj. David Kelly testified that marijuana starts a user down a path to harder drugs. Senior Assistant Attorney General Simon Brown said marijuana use is connected to violent crimes.

Coalition members refute both claims. Taschner and Phil Greazzo, who both say they use marijuana for medical reasons, say they don't feel tempted to try other drugs. And they contend that marijuana relaxes them. Many violent criminals have used alcohol or other drugs but not solely marijuana, they said.

The coalition gained satisfaction when a former police officer broke ranks at the House hearing. Brad Jardis, an Epping and Plaistow patrolman, testified that decriminalizing marijuana would help the addicted get treatment, and regulated sales would make it harder for kids to obtain it.

"I can tell you the current system we have is allowing our kids to easily get it," Jardis said.

Greazzo and Simon say the criminalization of marijuana is similar to alcohol prohibition in the 1920s. Black-market prices for the drug soar, while crime expands as dealers protect their turf, members said. Users of any age can find these dealers, they said.

"If you look at it now, there are criminal elements to marijuana sales," said Greazzo, a Manchester resident. "Dealers get violent in the streets. It's the same element as Al Capone."

Greazzo, 36, said he uses marijuana to relieve back pain from a career in hard labor. He now works for his brother's line striping and seal coating business and dabbles in real estate on the side.

"I have no health insurance and no doctor," Greazzo said. "I use something that's relatively safe. I feel comfortable with the green gift of God."

Simon, 30, said he doesn't use marijuana. He grades essays for standardized tests companies and feels his and others' efforts bust the label of lazy, inattentive pot smokers.

"It's the old principle that people should be able to do what they want to do as long as they don't hurt anybody else," Simon said.



News Moderator - User 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: The Telegraph
Author: Albert McKeon
Contact: amckeon@nashuatelegraph.com
Copyright: Telegraph Publishing Company
Website: Nashuatelegraph.com: Local/Regional
 
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Freeman420

New Member
This is an excellent development for tha decriminalization movement. To think a soccer mom who doesn't personally use cannabis would support it. It's more than likely that their effort will be defeated but at least they're trying and educating some people in tha process. I mean that soccer mom seemed downright rational, I know that my own mother blindly loathes cannabis because of tha bullshit propaganda shoved into her head during her lifetime. Tha feds campaign of misinformation certainly has been effective, so we all have to be a thousand times more persistent with enlightening those who have been brainwashed. Tha government outright LIES to tha american populace with ridiculous, irresponsible, and unsubstantiated claims of cannabis use causing immoral behavior of all sorts.

Most police officers and prosecutors take a different stance. At a hearing to review the House bill, state police Maj. David Kelly testified that marijuana starts a user down a path to harder drugs. Senior Assistant Attorney General Simon Brown said marijuana use is connected to violent crimes.

Coalition members refute both claims. Taschner and Phil Greazzo, who both say they use marijuana for medical reasons, say they don’t feel tempted to try other drugs. And they contend that marijuana relaxes them. Many violent criminals have used alcohol or other drugs but not solely marijuana, they said.

The coalition gained satisfaction when a former police officer broke ranks at the House hearing. Brad Jardis, an Epping and Plaistow patrolman, testified that decriminalizing marijuana would help the addicted get treatment, and regulated sales would make it harder for kids to obtain it.

“I can tell you the current system we have is allowing our kids to easily get it,” Jardis said.

Greazzo and Simon say the criminalization of marijuana is similar to alcohol prohibition in the 1920s. Black-market prices for the drug soar, while crime expands as dealers protect their turf, members said. Users of any age can find these dealers, they said.

“If you look at it now, there are criminal elements to marijuana sales,” said Greazzo, a Manchester resident. “Dealers get violent in the streets. It’s the same element as Al Capone.”

Those law enforcement representatives have been indoctrinated with tha responsibility of automatically refuting cannabis' legitimacy every single time that question is raised. They are professionally obligated to attack cannabis every single time it's debated without conscience because tha feds say it's evil. If your superiors higher up in tha system order you to defend or denounce something, then no matter what, you abide by your instructions. So in typical fashion, they use tha tired "gateway" theory that cannabis use leads immediately to harder, more dangerous narcotics.

I can personally say that is not tha case, having used cannabis medicinally, religiously, socially, and recreationally for around 7 years now. I haven't tried coke, methamphetamine, heroin, ecstasy, prescription pills, or other illicit substances. I will admit that I have tried psychedelic mushrooms a couple of times but that was a decision I made because I was curious. Besides tha shrooms, cannabis has been more than enough for me. Tha people who do use cannabis then move on to those type of harder drugs, do so because they're just chasing a stronger high. They don't appreciate cannabis for what it is, they only like it because it gets them high and they can forget about their problems.

Tha "gateway" theory is bullshit and they know it! They are transforming otherwise law abiding citizens into criminals with cannabis prohibition, which does strongly resemble alcohol prohibition and will have tha same result, rescinding tha preposterous policy that failed so miserably. It's unfortunate that crime has been associated with cannabis but that is a direct result of tha prohibition, just like with alcohol. When cannabis is legal again, it's value will drop because of a wider availability and tha criminal element will sharply decline. Tha entire question about tha cannabis legality situation is based on money, tha amount street dealers are making and tha amount pharmaceutical corporations will lose when it is finally legalized. Again, pretty much all problems on earth are concerned with currency.

Tha feds more than likely know that their crusade opposing cannabis is going against tha truth, they just don't care. As we are all aware of, tha federal government is known to make life and death decisions when they are well aware that they are going against tha reality of tha situation. Those in power abuse it again and again because not enough people try to hold them accountable. Anyone with a public outlet has tha moral obligation to speak tha true facts of cannabis so tha uninformed and brainwashed can get a sense of it's realistic nature. We need to convince as many people from all spectrums of society as possible so tha feds will know that tha truth is spreading and we will call them on their bullshit! Everyone needs to do their part and now is tha best time to start. Peace.
LEGALIZE IT!!!!
 
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