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Mass District Attorneys Still Fighting Question 2


For a group that struts around condemning pot smokers, the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association (MDAA) is one wacky bunch of lazy bureaucrats.

The State House News Service (SHNS) today delivered an expected whopper: Governor Deval Patrick, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and their incompetent minions can’t, or, more accurately, are unwilling to, accommodate policy adjustments required by the passage of Question 2.

Here we have a typical scenario in which government officials condescend to reporters (and, ultimately, to the public) as if we have no clue about the difficulty of their jobs. They’re basically claiming that people don’t understand the logistics required to get a damn thing done around here.

“There are very, very significant implementation problems,” MDAA Executive Director Geline Williams told the SHNS about marijuana decriminalization. Added Berkshire County District Attorney David Capeless: “There are some very serious issues which aren’t necessarily going to get resolved.”

This reaction would be understandable if their attitude was that, despite obstacles, officials are working hard to move from criminal to civil penalties. After all, they are required to set up counseling for youth offenders, and to train police officers not to cuff and stuff pot smokers caught with less than one ounce.

But, instead, district attorneys are essentially saying that since they don’t approve of Question 2, they’ll drag their feet as long as possible. Their message: We should leave flawed legislation in tact for their convenience.

“It seems to me that the district attorneys are still campaigning,” says Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy (CSMP) Organizer Whitney Taylor. “They continue to use ‘The sky is going to fall’ rhetoric, which is clearly untrue. We wrote this [law] to fit into the current system. It can be implemented as is.”

We know that – in the lead up to this past election – district attorneys refused to consult authorities in the dozen states that have already adopted similar laws. But now it’s time to sponge the spilled milk and do some research. I’ll make it easy for them – here’s a web site with resources.   

Surely, Commonwealth officials are not suggesting that the Massachusetts courts and legal system are less sophisticated than those in Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.  

Lastly, it’s time for some legislators to find enough courage to champion this measure. In addition to the fact that it’s no longer a political liability (65 percent of voters showed that they tolerate marijuana), this would be a sweet chance for a representative to prove that he or she can organize within this tragically flawed bureaucracy.

This law is supposed to hit the books 30 days from tomorrow, when the Governor’s Council finally certifies the November 4 election results. If someone – or, better yet, all of us – don’t step up soon and express some outrage we’re sure to see the will of voters be shamelessly disregarded.

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