State House Thwarts Grass and Gays
Legislators to Revive Marijuana Bill
State representatives advocating marijuana decriminalization will fight to revive a decriminalization bill quashed by the Legislature's Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, members of both the House and Senate said yesterday.
State Sen. Jack H. Backman, who first filed the bill in 1968, said that the committee's rejection of the bill was due in part to the reluctance of some of the committee members to take a public stand while unsure of their constituents' sentiments on the controversial issue.
"The next step is to fight the issue out on the floor of the Senate," Backman said yesterday, adding he is confident that the bill is not dead despite the Judiciary Committee's adverse report.
Jeri Cooper, a spokesman for State Rep. Frank W. Hatch, who is sponsoring a similar bill in the House, said she thinks that the current marijuana law eats up court and law enforcement time that should be directed to other areas.
The bill has been rejected by the Judiciary Committee nine times since Backman originally filed it, and now it will move to the House and Senate for debate.
State Rep. Michael F. Flaherty, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, opposed the bill, saying, "Nothing can justify the admittance of another intoxicant into our society."
The bill will probably be approved in the Senate in light of its recent liberal actions, Flaherty said yesterday.
The members of the Judiciary Committee rejected the bill partly because of increased anti-drug pressure exerted by their constituents. Flaherty said yesterday that the public is reacting to recent disclosures that a dangerous drug called "angel dust" is reportedly being used by high school students in Revere.
Alan M. Dershowitz, professor of Law, said yesterday he supports the legalization of marijuana. "Use of marijuana is a person's own business and not that of the government's," he said.
Those in possession of an ounce or less of marijuana would have to pay a $50 civil fine under the new decriminalization bill.