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As your constituent, I'm writing to urge you to support sensible drug policy based on science, liberty, and equity--not hype and fear.
In November, when Massachusetts voters legalized adult use of marijuana, they soundly rejected the failed war on drugs. As you consider whether any changes to the new law are necessary, I ask that you focus on facilitating its efficient operation, safeguarding civil liberties and improving the lives of people and communities harmed by decades of criminalization.
Here are 3 specific things to pay attention to:
1) SCIENCE. Get smart about public safety and reject any arbitrary, unscientific new laws about driving under the influence.
According to a 2016 AAA study, whether a person is driving under the influence of marijuana cannot be determined by the amount of THC in that person's blood. Because marijuana metabolites can remain in the blood for more than 30 days, individuals test positive for THC even when they are not intoxicated. That's why roadside impairment tests--not blood tests--are the best way to determine if an operator is unable to drive safely. Impairment testing is the same methodology officers have always used to determine if a driver is under the influence of any drug besides alcohol, including opiates, over the counter drugs like cough medicine, or other street drugs. Ignoring the science would cause serious harm.
2) LIBERTY. Do not re-criminalize marijuana by imposing stricter limits on the amount adults can grow or possess.
The new law contains reasonable limits on marijuana possession comparable to other domestic and international jurisdictions that have successfully implemented marijuana legalization. Imposing new civil and criminal penalties for marijuana possession would go against the premise of legalization, violate civil liberties and continue to empower an illegal market for marijuana.
3) EQUITY. Address the harmful impact of the War on Drugs on communities of color by promoting justice and supporting business development in those communities.
Since the decriminalization of marijuana in 2008, law enforcement in Massachusetts has continued to arrest Black people for marijuana possession at a rate more than three times as high as white people, despite the fact that rates of drug use are comparable across racial groups. Legalizing adult possession of marijuana helps address these disparities by removing the basis for police interactions, whereas new possession and cultivation limits would simply enable the continued disparate treatment of people of color. I hope you will do more to end the failed war on drugs by standing up for comprehensive criminal justice reform, and pursue equity initiatives to include entrepreneurs and communities of color in the emerging cannabis industry.
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Thank you for helping to lead Massachusetts in the direction of more sensible drug policy. I hope you will consider science, liberty and equity as you do so.