Testifying in support of H 2929, “An Act to regulate and tax the cannabis industry”
A frequent recurrence to the fundamental principles of the constitution, and a constant adherence to those of piety, justice, moderation, temperance, industry, and frugality, are absolutely necessary to preserve the advantages of liberty, and to maintain a free government. The people ought, consequently, to have a particular attention to all those principles, in the choice of their officers and representatives: and they have a right to require of their lawgivers and magistrates, an exact and constant observance of them, in the formation and execution of the laws necessary for the good administration of the commonwealth.
Article XVIII, A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Chairpersons Downing and Kaufman, honorable members of the committee,
As you may know this past September, we conducted our 20th Annual Freedom Rally, a peaceful assembly on the Boston Common protesting cannabis prohibition. This year was the first time persons the police chose to encounter for possessing cannabis did not face handcuffs and criminal sanction. At 4:20, in an act of spontaneous civil disobedience a pillar of smoke rose from the Boston Common.
They were not subject to arrest because sixty-five percent of the voters last November said enough to calling a crime something over half of them had done in their lifetimes and at best guess at least ten percent of them had done in the month before the election. From their experience with cannabis they concluded the law unjust and unwholesome for the Commonwealth and in the privacy of the voters booth they felt comfortable to speak their mind like Michael Bloomberg and unlike William Jefferson Clinton, who felt compelled to deny he inhaled.
Now, nine months, and a summer, after Question 2 went into effect enough time has passed to conclude that the “Reefer Mad” assertion, made before and after the vote, that the sky would fall is false. While the Reefer Mad encourage those cited to be scofflaws, the Sun Chronicle reported last month that Mansfield had received about $17,700 and Foxboro more than $11,000 in civil fines and that in its readership area compliance in paying is very good.
When so many people violate legislation, it is manifest that the notion that our statutes should reflect, directly or indirectly, the consent of the people to the acts of their representatives is disconnected.
This disconnect between the people and their representatives has been compounded by the Supreme Judicial Court’s rejection in 1969 to a legal challenge to the constitutional authority of the legislature to enact cannabis prohibition. The Court then required opponents to prove cannabis use safe, as safe as margarine compared to butter. Well, science that meets the level of reliability necessary to be admissible in Court now establishes that: cannabis use is as safe as butter; likely beneficial to the human mind and body; and, that prohibition and the cost of enforcing the prohibition harms the commonwealth.
In sum, after almost 100 years of legislation prohibiting cannabis commerce and consumption and wasting hundreds of millions of tax dollars trying to enforce it, it is too common for laws to eradicate its use
It is time for this committee, charged with raising revenue for the commonwealth, to recognize that prohibition is unwholesome, unreasonable, and inconsistent with the principles of the constitution and those of justice, moderation, and frugality. It is time to regulate cannabis as we do the dangerous tobacco, beer, wine and hard cider. House Bill 2929 is a draft for such a policy, a draft upon which this committee, by prudent amendment may fashion a regulatory and taxation scheme to which only the most rabid sufferers of Reefer Madness will be unable to agree upon.
Such an approach reduces disobedience to levels consistent with the notion of the consent of the governed and is the only policy consistent with primary purpose of government:
to furnish the individuals who compose it with the power of enjoying in safety and tranquillity their natural rights, and the blessings of life: . . . .
among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness . . . . .
Preamble and Article I of the Declaration of rights to the Constitution of Massachusetts.
The officers and directors of the
Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition
by its Clerk and Treasurer
Steven S. Epstein
Dr. Keith Saunders, President
Steven S. Epstein, Esq., Clerk and Treasurer