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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Officials unite to fight marijuana initiative

Law enforcement officials statewide are uniting against a referendum question they fear will increase marijuana use among teenagers and generate more crime across the state.

The state's 11 district attorneys are unanimously opposing Question 2 and are being joined by police chiefs and some community groups, fearing it will undo years of effort to reduce drug use among teenagers. Governor Deval Patrick's administration also is opposed, according to a spokesman.

"Teenage marijuana use is down, and this is a good thing," said Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley. "This is a bad, bad message for our kids."

But supporters of Question 2, who are organized under the name Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy, are striking back. Today, they plan to announce that they have applied for criminal complaints against unnamed district attorneys for alleged campaign law violations, according to Whitney Taylor, the group's executive director.

Taylor refused to be more specific about the allegations, which will be the subject of an 11 a.m. press conference outside Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in Boston, about three hours before prosecutors and police hold their own at the State House.

Taylor said that if Question 2 passes, marijuana will still be an illegal drug. And, she said, the new approach will increase parental involvement in marijuana cases for those under 18 years old because police will be required to notify parents about the civil matter. She said those under 18 must complete drug awareness training and do 10 hours of community service.

Parents "are brought right in, and they get to focus on the young people," she said. "We do not promote or condone marijuana use." [Mark Godsey]

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