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Congressman Frank to Introduce Federal Marijuana Decriminalization BillSalem-News.com
CSMP Applauds Effort and Symmetry with Proposed Statewide Ballot Initiative.
(BOSTON, Mass.) - The Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy today applauded U.S. Representative Barney Frank's (D-4th MA) announcement that he would introduce federal marijuana decriminalization legislation that parallels CSMP's statewide effort to create sound marijuana policies.
Frank announced his bill to reform smalltime marijuana penalties – a position shared by the majority of Massachusetts voters – during his appearance on HBO’s "Real Time with Bill Maher" over the weekend.
"The Massachusetts Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy is proud to be moving forward on the state level to create a sound marijuana policy while Congressman Frank tackles this issue in the nation’s capital," said Whitney A. Taylor, CSMP campaign manager.
"The people of Massachusetts are ready for a proven, practical marijuana policy, which is reflected in the efforts of both Congressman Frank and CSMP."
By creating a civil penalty system for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, CSMP's initiative will greatly reduce the human and financial costs of current laws. According to Harvard economist Dr. Jeff Miron, Massachusetts’ taxpayers spend $29.5 million a year just to arrest and book offenders who possess an ounce or less of marijuana.
This arrest can result in up to six months in jail and a $500 fine, but more costly is the creation of a criminal record — or CORI — for these offenders.
A CORI can essentially mean a lifetime of punishment, making an individual ineligible for student loans, creating barriers to employment, and banning smalltime marijuana violators from many housing opportunities, Taylor said.
Last year, over 7,500 Bay Staters received a CORI and endless barriers to a successful life for personal possession of an ounce or less of marijuana.
"This commonsense approach to marijuana possession will create huge savings, both human and financial," Taylor said. "Thousands of individuals will be able to move on to lead productive lives, while over $29 million a year can stay in local community coffers — it is a win-win for Massachusetts."
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