New Hampshire residents could possess one-quarter ounce or less of marijuana without facing jail under a bill headed to the state Senate.
The House voted 193-141 Tuesday to decriminalize the small amount of the drug, making possessing it a violation subject to a $200 fine. Under current law, possessing that amount could mean spending a year in jail and paying a $2,000 fine.
Supporters argued current law costs youths who experiment with the drug all chances at receiving financial aid to attend college. They said it wasn’t fair to penalize them for life for a youthful mistake.
Windham Republican Jason Bedrick said he doesn’t advocate using marijuana, but that wasn’t the issue.
“The question is whether a teenager making a stupid decision should face a year in prison and loss of all funding for college,” said Bedrick.
That’s certainly a better approach than Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who despite admitting he smoked marijuana himself when he was younger now says, “I feel that our laws are good in Florida. They were thoughtfully put in place.”
Amazing how ready these politicians are to throw someone’s future away for the same choices they themselves made at the same age.
(I’m also not sure how that statement applies to Crist’s acknowledgment that the drug laws failed in Richard Paey’s case.)
Getting back to New Hampshire, not everyone is happy:
Whitefield Republican John Tholl, police chief in Dalton, said reducing the penalty in the selective circumstance to little more than a parking ticket could lead to trouble for youths confused by the law’s distinctions between possession, transporting and sale.
“The controlled drug statute is complex and involved,” he said.
“For example, if someone has a quarter ounce in his possession and gives some to a buddy, he can be arrested and charged for sale and a felony,” said Tholl. “If we send a message to young people that a quarter ounce is not big deal, they’re going to ignore the potential problems coming.
Well here’s a crazy idea. Why not show some discretion, then, and not arrest and charge that kid in the first place? If he’s sharing a quarter ounce with his buddy, he’s pretty clearly not a major dealer, right?