Ballot Question 2 in Mass. is a hot button issue in the days leading up to the presidential election. The current Mass. law states that anyone caught with any amount of marijuana will be arrested and tried as a criminal defendant in a court of law. If Ballot Question 2 passes, people caught with less than one ounce of marijuana would be issued a ticket similar to a traffic violation.

The amount of the ticket will be $100 dollars and the fine would go to whatever city the offense took place in.The benefit of the fine, rather than the arrest, is that it will reduce the number of people with criminal records, cut court costs for cities and towns and not tie up the police with the arrest and booking of someone caught with marijuana.

I firmly believe the current marijuana policy needs to be replaced with civil citations. People who use marijuana pose far less risk to the general public than those who consume alcohol, but they face arrest and prosecution for using marijuana. Unfortunately, drug use brings forward the image of the crazed addict who will do anything for their fix, when in reality, many productive members of society use marijuana without any ill effects whatsoever. If Ballot Question 2 passes, minors caught with any amount of marijuana would face a stiffer penalty. Their parents would be notified, there would be a $1,000 fine, and they would be forced to attend a drug education program.

Opponents of the sensible marijuana policy claim that by passing this bill we would be sending the wrong message to kids about drug use. Opponents also argue that it will make it easier for drug dealers to ply their trade without fear of being caught. I believe that the message that children get in our society is not from the laws we pass, but by the actions of their parents. I would have to agree that it will be easier for the marijuana dealers to sell marijuana if this ballot question passes. However if as a society we are willing to say that smoking marijuana is only a civil offense then wouldn’t the logical conclusion be that those adults are procuring their marijuana from somewhere? Since we are already aware of this fact then the argument that it will make marijuana dealers freer to sell pot is lacking. It will still be a criminal offense to sell other drugs.

This is a polarizing issue in Mass., and I will be watching closely to see how people feel about this. One local poll reported that more than 70 percent of adults agree that marijuana should be decriminalized. We’ll see if those 70 percent feel strongly enough about it to go out and vote for the decriminalization of marijuana.