Marijuana Legislation Gaining Momentum Across U.S.

Catharine Leach is married and has two boys, age 2 and 8. She has a good job with a federal contractor and smokes pot most every day.

While she worries that her public support for marijuana decriminalization and legalization could cost her a job or bring the police to her door, the 30-year-old Warwick resident said she was tired of feeling like a criminal for using a drug that she said is far less harmful than the glass of wine or can of beer enjoyed by so many others after a long day’s work. Like others around the nation working to relax penalties for possession of pot, she decided to stop hiding and speak out.

“I’m done being afraid,” she said. “People in this country are finally coming around and seeing that putting someone in jail for this doesn’t make sense. It’s just a changing of the time.”

Once consigned to the political fringe, marijuana policy is appearing on legislative agendas around the country thanks to an energized base of supporters and an increasingly open-minded public. Lawmakers from Rhode Island to Colorado are mulling medical marijuana programs, pot dispensaries, decriminalization and even legalization. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia now authorize medical marijuana and 14, including neighboring Connecticut and Massachusetts, have rolled back criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of pot.

Rhode Island is poised to become the 15th state to decriminalize marijuana possession. The state’s General Assembly passed legislation last week that would eliminate the threat of big fines or even jail time for the possession of an ounce or less of pot. Instead, adults caught with small amounts of marijuana would face a $150 civil fine. Police would confiscate the marijuana, but the incident would not appear on a person’s criminal record.

Minors caught with pot would also have to complete a drug awareness program and community service.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee has said he is inclined to sign the legislation.

One of the bill’s sponsors, state Rep. John Edwards of Tiverton, has introduced similar proposals in past years but the idea always sputtered in committee. Each year, though, he got more co-sponsors, and the bill passed the House this year 50-24. The state Senate passed it 28-6.

Some supporters of decriminalization say they’d like to go even further.

“America’s 50-year war on drugs has been an abysmal failure,” said Rep. John Savage, a retired school principal from East Providence. “Marijuana in this country should be legalized. It should be sold and taxed.”

Opponents warned of dire consequences to the new policy.

“What kind of message are we sending to our youth? We are more worried about soda – for health reasons – than we are about marijuana,” said one opponent, Rhode Island state Rep. John Carnevale a Democrat from Providence.

A survey by Rasmussen last month found that 56 percent of respondents favored legalizing and regulating marijuana. A national Gallup poll last year showed support for legalizing pot had reached 50 percent, up from 46 percent in 2010 and 25 percent in the mid-’90s.

Medical marijuana helped bring marijuana policy into the mainstream back in 1996, when California became the first state to authorize the use of cannabis for medicinal use. Other states followed suit.

“It’s now politically viable to talk about these things,” said Robert Capecchi, legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based group that supports the reduction or elimination of penalties for medical and recreational pot use. “The public understands that there are substances that are far more harmful – alcohol, tobacco – that we regulate. People are realizing just how much money is being wasted on prohibition.”

Colorado and Washington state will hold fall referendums on legalizing marijuana. A ballot question on legalization failed in California in 2010.

This month, Connecticut’s governor signed legislation to allow medical marijuana there. Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed cutting the penalty for public possession of small amounts of pot.

Liberal state policies on marijuana have run into conflict with federal prohibition. Federal authorities have shut down more than 40 dispensaries this year in Colorado, even though they complied with state and local law. In Rhode Island, Gov. Lincoln Chafee blocked three dispensaries from opening last year after the state’s top federal prosecutor warned they could be prosecuted. Chafee and lawmakers then rewrote the dispensary law to restrict the amount of marijuana dispensaries may have on hand.

Robert DuPont, who served as the nation’s drug czar under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, said Americans should be wary of a slippery slope to legalization. While marijuana may not cause the life-threatening problems associated with heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine, it’s far from harmless.

“It is a major drug of abuse,” he said. “People ask me what the most dangerous drug is, and I say marijuana. Other drugs have serious consequences that are easy to recognize. Marijuana saps people’s motivation, their direction. It’s a drug that makes people stupid and lazy. That’s in a way more dangerous.”

– Read the entire article at Politico.



  1. gutrod on

    Alcohol is the 1st drug that most people were introduced to and the gateway to harder drugs. The side effects in the form of a hangover are nasty. The people responsible for the current laws are a bunch of cement heads with their heads buried up their asses. Harper that includes you along with your henchmen. Maybe you should try a toke. It might enhance your musical abilities just as it has for the many musical greats that you worship like the Beatles for example along with all the blues and jazz musicians that invented rock and roll.
    If you can’t beat them, join them.

  2. Shonymous on

    “but they’re clearly not the right people for the role”

    Actually, they are the Perfect People for the Role.
    They are carefully selected and groomed.
    No mistakes are being made, and the opportunity they have to smash and harass the scapegoat of “Pot-heads” will not be given up easily. Or soon. But maybe, someday . . . .

  3. kim hanna on

    More like Dupont is stupid & lazy for not researching the truth on marijuana. Perhaps he was exposed to Agent Orange when DuPont manufactured it for Vietnam….

  4. Anonymous on

    So true…

  5. Paul Pot on

    Because he’s a war criminal and if the regime of the drug war topples, he’ll go to prison for the rest of our lives.
    Like the Berlin wall, like Gaddafi, he’s going down.

  6. Catharine_Leach on

    Marijuana users are lazy and stupid. Yes, that has to be it. Because I have a great executive position for a 10-million per year contractor, my own office, a paycheck that can support my family and allow my husband to stay at home and take care of the children, and work said salary job that demands travel, security, 50+ hour work weeks, and multiple certifications. In fact I’m so stupid I graduated salutatorian – 2nd place – despite majoring in auto mechanics and the valedictorian majoring in comotology. I am so stupid I receive the President’s Excellence Award, High Honors and a member of the RI Honor Society, the Marine Corps Award for Excellence, a solid 3.89 GPA, graduated college with a degree and 3.9 GPA, ran as a delegate for Ron Paul for the RNC (and is going as an official guest of the RI GOP Delegation) and is now running for Warwick Town Council – all while considering myself a heavy pot smoker. Man we stoners sure are stupid and lazy. Don’t get me started on all my parenting duties and activities I will be here all night telling you what a horrible lazy stupid mother I am too…

  7. Al1957 on

    Marijuana makes people stupid and lazy?
    I say Politics makes people so stupid and so lazy that they can not even look at the evidence about the benefits of Marijuana.
    They know the truth they just will never ADMIT IT.

  8. Bud Grinder on

    Don’t be fooled by the propaganda spewing from their hateful forked tongues. They know well that their pogrom on marijuana people is uncalled for and that marijuana is a good thing for the public.

    But none of that matters when there’s money on the line. All the prohibition thugs get to suck deeply off the public tit while they degrade and abuse good people, certainly much BETTER people than the thugs are.

    They are all evil spawns of Satan and if there’s ANY justice in the world they’ll eventually get what’s coming to them and what they so richly and justly deserve.

  9. Anonymous on

    DuPont. his name says it all. During cannabis (and thus, hemp) prohibition, DuPont made a lot of money with synthetic fibres. Before prohibition, HEMP was a better and cheaper choice.

  10. Anonymous on

    Sorry that was horribly written lol.

    How is that someone who has a possition of “Drug Czar” can be so uneducated in terms of the harms and dangers of marijuana when it’s one of the worlds most safest, proven, calming, non-toxic substances? Why is he so out of the loop? Why does he not have a neutral stance that at least considers the pros and cons? .. He should be more intelligent than just “just say no” and live in the 1930’s. Anyone with that kind of tunnel vision, biased opinion shouldn’t hold a job like that in my opinion. Same goes for FDA.

  11. Anonymous on

    Why is it that someone who has a possition of “Drug Czar” be so uneducated harms and dangers of marijuana when it’s one of the worlds most safest, proven, and well known substances? Why is he so out of the loop? Why does he at least not have a neutral stance that at least considers pros and cons? .. He should be more intelligent than just “just say no” and live in the 1930’s. I’m not sure who appoints these guys, but they’re clearly not the right people for the role.