Marijuana bill facing protests

State Sen. Scott Brown. (Staff file photo by Mark Stockwell)

BOSTON - Walking into his political fundraiser at an upscale Boston restaurant, state Sen. Scott Brown waved off a small knot of demonstrators huddled in the evening chill to protest Brown's proposed legislation adding stiff penalties for some marijuana possession.

The Wrentham Republican had little to say about the demonstration.

"I didn't know there were protesters. That's my comment," he said entering the restaurant as protesters handed out fliers with Brown's face superimposed on an image of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

Protesters said Brown was ignoring the will of voters with his proposed legislation that would impose a fine of up to $1,000 for possession of marijuana in the passenger seat of a car.

"Essentially, it's recriminalizing the possession of marijuana in a car and we think that's ridiculous because exactly 66.17 percent of the constituents in (Brown's) district voted for a $100 fine and the decriminalization of marijuana," said Bill Downing, the president of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition.

"We think that not listening to those voters and, in fact, trying to override the wishes of those voters is similar to fascism," he said.

In November, Massachusetts voters approved Question 2 by almost a two-thirds vote. The ballot question made the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine and prohibited police from reporting the offense to the state's criminal record database.

The law had no provisions for people caught with marijuana in their vehicles.

The state has a law prohibiting open containers of alcohol in motor vehicles.

Scott Gacek, a MassCann director, said he had e-mailed Brown earlier in the week.

"He wanted to bring (marijuana laws) in line with open container alcohol laws. I told him that there's a legal way to purchase alcohol and to do that you need to provide an outlet to purchase marijuana legally," Gacek said.

Damyian Gant was listening to his MP3 player walking to Back Bay when Downing handed him a flier.

Gant said he voted for Question 2 in November and was surprised by Brown's bill.

"I think that it's asinine. Why turn over a ruling that the voters of Massachusetts just voiced their opinion on?" he said. "If the folks are interested in having a ticket or fee attached to someone who's caught with marijuana, then that fee should stand still."

"If we're going to amend that, then why was it put on the ballot for us to vote on?"

Joel Miller debated the meaning of the word fascist with a protester before stopping to talk about his feelings on marijuana laws.

"I'm not saying the senator's right. I'm just saying I don't think they're right," Miller said, pointing at the protesters around him. "Or the people that want to support (marijuana legalization)."

"I think it needs to be looked at a lot more. I see no positive social implications of easing the grass situation," he said.

Co-sponsors of the bill, state Rep. Jay Barrows, R-Mansfield, and state Rep. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham, could not be reached for comment.

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(19) comments

anonymous

I love how Senator Brown said "I didn't know there were protesters. That's my comment." Funny thing, he emailed myself and others asking to cancel the protest. Below is the actual text of one such message to me:Scott BrownAdd as FriendMarch 22 at 9:32amScott, I just got an email from a friend about the protest. I really don't think that is necessary because I am happy to meet with you and several others to discuss changing the bill. I was asked to file it by several police chiefs who wanted clarication. Would you be willing to meet to discuss this?And another thing... The bill was not filed "by request." You can read the text of the bill for yourself:http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/senate/186/st01/st01586.htm

anonymous

That wasn't Scott Brown; that was an impostor heading into that political fundraiser. I know Scott Brown; I've heard him speak; Scott Brown enjoys using profanities when he speaks with people --- especially young students. If that was really Scott Brown, he'd have unleashed an expletive-deleted tirade at those kids. Good to see those two House loafers, Reps Richard Ross and Jay Barrows, joining Brown in filing this piece of legislative garbage. Another example of why Republicans continue to be a minority party. What will Brown, Ross and Barrows do next? File legislation banning stem-cell research in the Commonwealth? Like that insipid former leader of theirs, President George "I gotta' get my butt into the National Guard so I can avoid serving in Vietnam" Bush?

anonymous

Is this the same Scott Brown and Richard Ross who support adding slots to the local track? Let's see if I've got it right: against marijuana but in favor of gambling.... Hmmm.....some addictions are ok because they bring in revenue and some are not because they have an underground economy. Perhaps Mssrs. Brown and Ross should be filing a bill to legalize and tax marijuana, then they would at least be consistent instead of just a patsy for the gambling interests.

anonymous

"How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think."-Adolf HitlerClearly this man is in agreement with Hitler's method of governing. A vote was passed by a vast majority of popular vote. To oppose this, opposes democracy and leads the people that elected you to believe that only you know "what's best" for them.

anonymous

"The law had no provisions for people caught with marijuana in their vehicles."$100 fine for less then an ounce applies to marijuana found in vehicles. There are also laws if the driver is found to be operating under the influence.

anonymous

Ahh...the US Government! Once again, taking charge of what the people want and changing it to benefit the needs of others that work for the Government and State! If anybody thinks the the Gov is ever on your side, cares about you, tries to make you safe, healthy, or anything else then wake up! Land of the free? YEah ok? The gov is a BS system that only takes care of themselves. Until we stand up to them they will have there way about anything and everything. Why vote do you really think it matters? Governor Bush is a perfect example. I call him Gov becuase its the only "legal" spot of office he actually won! People really need to wake up and fight for what they want in this country for themselves!!! The US Goverment is a BS JOKE!!!!

anonymous

This bill was dead on arrival. Had the pot people actually decided to contact Sen. Brown they might have learned that. Instead they reacted like they always do and have now given this bill life and it might actually go somewhere. I for one hope it passes now just to spite them and have no problem with Sen. Brown filing this bill for the police officers who have to keep our streets safe from this pot mania. Tallyho's posts become more and more non-sensical each time she posts. Maybe one of these days you will actually get over it, tallyho

anonymous

I think everyone should see a great movie and it will settle the worries of us all. It has to be over 25 years old but the issue is the same.Reefermadness. Great movie, strong message. ha.

anonymous

Methinks the senator doth protest too much. I wonder if, during his male modeling years for GQ, if Mr. Brown partook in any form of the substance he now seeks to control & regulate through post-referendum legislation. Just as with the Democrats and the legislative repeal of the rollback of the income tax, looks like Brown's using the same tactic he opposed to rollback the voter's decision on decriminalizing marijuana. Amazing how some folks can switch views and learn from their enemies...

anonymous

So if your ziplock baggy is open, you'd be fined?

anonymous

That "small knot of demonstrators" was probably firing up a doobie...

anonymous

Partake? Baby, this bad boy super model wannabee told 600 people at DARE graduation that he'd done it all! Yup, maybe he ought to make reparations for his sordid past---'Course, he was only a rep when he came clean on his story

anonymous

Maybe Brown should stop bringing his personal agenda into lawmaking, and do what he was supposedly elected to do: represent the people of Massachusetts who elected him. His typically "don't call me, I'll call you" attitude towards the press and citizenry should un-elect him the next time around. People, you don't have to put up with this behavior from your elected officials.

anonymous

This guy just loves the youth of America.Throw the bum out!!!

anonymous

Brown wants to fashion his proposed legislation after the open container law for alcoholic bevreges, but wants to fine people for 1 oz or less in a vehicle up to $1000 dollars. Below is the current law and reads as follows, MGL,C,90, sec. 24I;Whoever, upon any way or in any place to which the public has a right of access, or upon any way or in any place to which members of the public have access as invitees or licensees, possesses an open container of alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of any motor vehicle shall be punished by a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500.So why does he want to punish the potheads more than the drunks ?What is he thinknig ? Must be stoned himself.

anonymous

Brown wants to fashion his proposed legislation after the open container law for alcoholic bevreges, but wants to fine people for 1 oz or less in a vehicle up to $1000 dollars. Below is the current law and reads as follows, MGL,C,90, sec. 24I;Whoever, upon any way or in any place to which the public has a right of access, or upon any way or in any place to which members of the public have access as invitees or licensees, possesses an open container of alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of any motor vehicle shall be punished by a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500.So why does he want to punish the potheads more than the drunks ?What is he thinknig ?

anonymous

Just goes to show how Scott Brown and Jay Barrows are out of touch with reality. If these Reps had any brains they would legalize and tax marijuana. The opponents gave a scare tactic saying decriminalizing pot would turn our society upside down just like they said with gay marriage. The GOP complains about everything and yet offers no solution. The people have spoken...HONOR OUR VOTES!

anonymous

Perhaps they could go to the side walk in front of his house and protest?

anonymous

this is very discouraging!!! at some point, we have to realize what do we have to do with the government. it is not by the people for the people any more its for rich people by corporations.I just don't know what to do anymore. Why did I even vote, clearly votes don't matter. he wants slots at the track My grandma was addicted to slots for years but im not for making slots illegal some people can handle gambling

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