Massachusetts law enforcement officials began a final assault yesterday on Tuesday’s ballot question to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, reports the Boston Globe. They said a “yes” vote would only empower drug dealers who resort to guns and violence in their trade. “Drug use, drug abuse, and drug sales are synonymous with other types of criminal activity,” said Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis, pointing to a table of guns and bags of marijuana that are found in tandem in Boston’s street crime.
Question 2 would decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, making it a civil violation with a $100 fine rather than an offense warranting arrest. Supporters say state law would still maintain penalties for growing, trafficking, or driving under the influence of marijuana. Juveniles arrested with any amount of marijuana would have to undergo a drug awareness program. The proposal would ensure that the possession of small amounts of marijuana will not taint a person’s criminal record, punishment supporters say is too severe. Under state law, anyone convicted of possessing even a small amount of marijuana faces jail time, a fine, and a lifelong criminal record that could be accessed by potential employers, housing agencies, and student loan providers. The group supporting the question with a $1 million campaign – the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy – said that three-quarters of those arrested for marijuana possession in the state are 24 or younger. The group believes those young people are most likely to have their careers affected by a criminal record.