Why N.H. should decriminalize marijuana

To the editor:

Law-abiding citizens who smoke marijuana responsibly are not part of the crime problem, and we must stop treating them like criminals.

In 2003, the last year for which we have data, law enforcement arrested over 755,000 persons for marijuana violations. This total far exceeds the total number of arrests for all violent crime combined, including murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Surely, our limited law enforcement resources would be better served targeting more serious and violent crimes.

Marijuana decriminalization currently enjoys support from the majority of Americans. According to the latest CNN/Time magazine poll on the subject, 72 percent of Americans favor a fine over criminal penalties for the possession of marijuana.

House Bill 197 recommends that minor marijuana offenders in New Hampshire will face a maximum penalty of a ticket and a small fine in lieu of criminal arrest and prosecution. This is a step in the right direction, but it will only receive serious consideration if the elected officials in New Hampshire hear an unmistakable message of support from their constituents.

Matt Gannon

Categories: News