The preliminary draft of the report of the Massachusetts legislature's special commission on drug abuse has recommended legalizing possession of up to two ounces of marijuana as part of a complete revision of the state's drug laws. But is appears certain the legislature will not accept the report as it stands.
Other changes proposed in the 94 page document include:
Repeal of the current state law that makes it a crime to be present where drugs are being used.
Reduction of the penalties for possession, sale and manufacture of drugs of all sorts.
Recognition of the right of "drug-dependent" persons to treatment rather than jail sentences.
Definition of alcohol and alcohol based products as a category of dangerous drugs.
Opposition to the report has been pri-marily focused on the section dealing with marijuana. State Senator Beryl W. Cohen, Senate chairman of the committee, said Tuesday that ten of its 11 members would refuse to sign the report until the provision recommending legalization of marijuana is deleted.
"We want to make the penalties more realistic," said another committee member. Senator Ronald C. McKenzie, "but at the same time we want to retain some type of official discouragement."
Members of the committee hope to propose a bill redefining the state's drug laws to the current session of the legislature. Eyen if the bill does not propose legalization of marijuana, its passage will not be assured.
"We're lowering penalties on almost every category of drugs, which is difficult in the current atmosphere of law and order," McKenzie said.