October 23, 2013

Letters to the editor: South Portland councilors sidestep open-meeting law

A statement opposing a citizens’ initiative is issued without public notice or opportunity for public comment.

(Continued from page 1)

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The HS Electra unloads its cargo of oil in South Portland in March. South Portland city councilors excluded the public from discussion of a statement opposing a proposed ban on the potential handling of tar sands petroleum in the city, a letter writer says.

2013 File Photo/John Ewing

South Portland

Question 1 would prevent unnecessary pot arrests

I urge citizens of Portland to vote “yes” on Question 1 on Nov. 5 and legalize adult possession of small amounts of marijuana in Portland. The current law causes more problems than it solves.

Attitudes about marijuana are changing (“High hopes for legalizing marijuana in Maine,” Oct. 13), and for good reason. Enforcement of laws for low-level marijuana possession needlessly ensnares people, many of them young, in our criminal justice system. This often results in a criminal record that can negatively affect people for life – including making it harder to get a job or secure student loans.

Unnecessary arrests also crowd our jails, clog our courts, waste our tax dollars and divert scarce police resources away from focusing on serious crime. Further, there is scant evidence that these laws are effective in reducing marijuana use.

According to data from the FBI/Uniform Crime Reporting Program, in 2010 more than 80 percent of marijuana arrests in Maine were for possession only. Let’s stop criminalizing our citizens for simple possession of small amounts of marijuana. Let’s not ignore the real problems created by current law. Please vote “yes” on Question 1 on Nov. 5.

Harry Noel

Portland

Most ‘drug-related crime’ stems from prohibition laws

I hope the governor’s Drug Awareness Summits make a distinction between “drug-related” crime and “drug prohibition-related” crime, but I doubt they will (“LePage, law enforcement to discuss drug crime,” Oct. 20).

Most of the so-called “drug-related crime” is actually a product of drug prohibition, not the drugs. For example, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre was a product of alcohol prohibition, not alcohol.

Drug dealers don’t kill each other because they are high any more than Al Capone killed his rivals because he was drunk. It’s the way one runs an illegal business. These days I don’t see the Budweiser distributor killing off the Samuel Adams distributor.

The legal, regulated sale of drugs would get rid of most of the crime, corruption and violence associated with drugs. We would still have our drug use problem, but we could begin to treat that as a health problem instead of trying to turn it into a law enforcement problem. Cops are very good at what they do, but they are not addiction counselors.

The organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (www.leap.cc) has further information on the ways that drug prohibition is causing far more problems than it solves.

Steve Wellcome

citizen member, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Brunswick

 

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