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.