The Boston Globe reports that The New Hampshire House narrowly passed a bill to decriminalize a person’s first two marijuana possessions under one-half ounce. Remember the word “decriminalize,” because it’s what this story is about. This so-called decriminalization bill passed by a vote of 162 – 161 (hey, a win is a win). Under the decriminalization bill, first offenses would be violations punishable by a $250 fine. The second would be $500. Subsequent offenses would be misdemeanors subject to a year of jail time and a $1,000 fine. Offenders under 21 could also be ordered to take a drug awareness program. The bill now goes to the Senate. If it passes, Gov. John Lynch has promised to veto the measure.
At the same time the State House voted overwhelmingly 228-89 to kill a second bill to legalize and regulate the drug. All small cannabis offenses are currently misdemeanors punishable by up to a $2,000 fine and a year in jail. A fine and jail is a criminal sanction. Criminal sanctions are attached to conviction of a criminal statute. What has come to be called “decriminalization” is a red herring. The definition of decriminalize has come to mean “no jail time, this offense.”
The definition of “decriminalize” is”: a verb (used with object), -ized, -iz·ing; “to eliminate criminal penalties for or remove legal restrictions against: example: to decriminalize marijuana.” What NH proposes, and what my state, NC, does is remove the option of real jail time for a first, and in NH a second, small pot offense. More here. This double-speak must stop. We must use the correct terms for what we want, which in this case is “legalization.”
All Greenies can help with this effort. It’s simple. Use the word you mean, and be prepared to define the word for those who do not know what it means. Like this guy over to the right.
[all images from google]