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Guest Column: Cronies Get in on Marijuana

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

There is something incredibly sleazy and sordid about “retired” politicians getting rich selling marijuana. Delahunt, Finneran, Buoniconti, Nuciforo, Lees are just a few of the names linked to a medical marijuana regulatory scheme administered by their cronies.

When there was an opportunity to take a leadership role and to speak up against marijuana prohibition, did they? Or did they acquiesce in what has been perhaps the worst example of scapegoating and bigotry in modern times, as they dismissed and ridiculed any reformer who believed society could do better?

The medical marijuana regulations in Massachusetts are a prime illustration of bureaucrats running amok and going off the deep end with ridiculous complexity. Similar things are happening elsewhere. In Washington state, where full legalization was supposedly passed, an individual citizen can get 10 years in prison for growing a single plant, while government-approved stores can grow them by the thousand, and the top marijuana bureaucrat tours the state telling mayors and police chiefs they need to step up enforcement, not lessen it.

The war on marijuana is being replaced by a larger war in support of regulatory compliance. I am hoping the voters of our state are yearning for peace, not more war.

Despite the seemingly endless series of “studies” bandied about, no, marijuana is not going to turn you into a wild eyed axe-murderer. Neither is it going to make you stupid or lazy.

That is not to say some stupid or lazy people won’t smoke it on occasion. Moralists will always be able to find a few “worst cases” to point to—people who waste all their time on intoxication. But people are known to waste time on romance novels, video games, sports, religion and a hundred other things.

This herb isn’t so bad that it needs to be handled as if it were plutonium.

Massachusetts is known for its love of regulation. Anything new comes along, another bureaucracy is established. We’ve been in this rut for as long as anyone can remember.

There is a reason for this. Government controls enable those who have the right connections to become rich.

Those who are not members of the club get excluded, while those who are, get to do the secret handshake with their buddies.

Bay State Repeal (reachable at PO Box 211, Reading, MA 01867) is the campaign committee working to bring full legalization before the voters of Massachusetts in the 2016 election. When this writer was invited to become a member of the board, I jumped at the opportunity. Marijuana prohibition has got to go. It will go.

The question is, what will replace it? The regulation, licensing and bureaucracy of the cronies? The same old political pothole? Or might we be able to follow a better, simpler, and less tainted path?•

Terry Franklin is a founding member of the Amherst Cannabis Reform Coalition and a longtime activist against marijuana prohibition.

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