#385 The 7 State Ballot Propositions And Proposals

Date: Tue, 30 Sep 2008
Subject: #385 The 7 State Ballot Propositions And Proposals


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DrugSense FOCUS Alert #385 – Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Voters in California, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Michigan will all
vote Tuesday, November 4th on issues – a total of seven – which will
if passed change laws which impact those arrested for the use of
currently illegal drugs. The following highlights these issues.


PROPOSITION 5, the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act (NORA) –
This measure (1) expands drug treatment diversion programs for
criminal offenders, (2) modifies parole supervision procedures and
expands prison and parole rehabilitation programs, (3) allows inmates
to earn additional time off their prison sentences for participation
and performance in rehabilitation programs, (4) reduces certain
penalties for marijuana possession, and (5) makes miscellaneous
changes to state law related mainly to state administration of
rehabilitation and parole programs for offenders.

Perhaps the least understood Proposition 5 change is the marijuana
possession change. Here is what California’s nonpartisan Legislative
Analyst’s Office (LAO) has published on the issue:

Change in Marijuana Possession Penalties

Current state law generally makes the possession of less than 28.5
grams of marijuana by either an adult or a minor a misdemeanor
punishable by a fine of up to $100 (plus other penalties and fines
that can bring the total cost to as much as $370) but not jail.
Possession of greater amounts of marijuana, or repeat offenses, can
result in confinement in jail or a juvenile hall, greater fines, or
both. Revenues generated from these fines (including the additional
penalties) are distributed in accordance with state law to various
specified state and county government programs.

Penalties for Marijuana Offenses Would Become Infraction

This measure would make the possession of less than 28.5 grams of
marijuana by either an adult or a minor an infraction (similar to a
traffic ticket) rather than a misdemeanor. Adults would be subject, as
they are today, to a fine of up to $100. However, the additional
penalties of any kind would be limited under this measure to an amount
equal to the fine imposed. (For example, imposition of the maximum
$100 fine could result in an additional $100 in penalties.) Persons
under age 18 would no longer be subject to a fine for a first offense,
but would be required to complete a drug education program. Also,
under this measure, fines collected for marijuana possession would be
deposited in a special fund to provide additional support of the new
youth programs created by this measure.

The LAO analysis of Proposition 5 is at http://www.lao.ca.gov/ballot/2008/5_11_2008.aspx

Please see the YES on Prop. 5 website http://www.prop5yes.com/

The influential Orange County Register recently supported Proposition
5 in an editorial http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v08/n901/a06.html

PROPOSITION 6 – Makes some 30 changes to state criminal laws. The
measure requires that Youthful Offender Block Grant funds–provided by
the state to house, supervise, and provide various types of treatment
services to juveniles–be distributed to county probation offices and
eliminates existing provisions that permit these funds to be provided
directly to drug treatment, mental health, or other county
departments. Defines possession of methamphetamines as a felony – this
crime currently can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony – but
it does not change eligibility for some offenders for drug treatment
diversion under Proposition 36.

The LAO analysis of Proposition 6 is at http://www.lao.ca.gov/ballot/2008/6_11_2008.aspx

PROPOSITION 9 – This measure amends the State Constitution and various
state laws to (1) expand the legal rights of crime victims and the
payment of restitution by criminal offenders, (2) restrict the early
release of inmates, and (3) change the procedures for granting and
revoking parole.

The LAO analysis of Proposition 9 is at http://www.lao.ca.gov/ballot/2008/9_11_2008.aspx

The Los Angeles Times recently opposed all three propositions in
editorials http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v08/n895/a03.html


MASSACHUSETTS: QUESTION 2 – This proposed law would replace the
criminal penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana
with a new system of civil penalties, to be enforced by issuing
citations, and would exclude information regarding this civil offense
from the state’s criminal record information system. Offenders age
18 or older would be subject to forfeiture of the marijuana plus a
civil penalty of $100. Offenders under the age of 18 would be
subject to the same forfeiture and, if they complete a drug awareness
program within one year of the offense, the same $100 penalty.

Offenders under 18 and their parents or legal guardian would be
notified of the offense and the option for the offender to complete a
drug awareness program developed by the state Department of Youth
Services. Such programs would include ten hours of community service
and at least four hours of instruction or group discussion concerning
the use and abuse of marijuana and other drugs and emphasizing early
detection and prevention of substance abuse.

The penalty for offenders under 18 who fail to complete such a
program within one year could be increased to as much as $1,000,
unless the offender showed an inability to pay, an inability to
participate in such a program, or the unavailability of such a
program. Such an offender’s parents could also be held liable for
the increased penalty. Failure by an offender under 17 to complete
such a program could also be a basis for a delinquency proceeding.

The proposed law would define possession of one ounce or less of
marijuana as including possession of one ounce or less of
tetrahydrocannibinol (“THC”), or having metabolized products of
marijuana or THC in one’s body.

Under the proposed law, possessing an ounce or less of marijuana
could not be grounds for state or local government entities imposing
any other penalty, sanction, or disqualification, such as denying
student financial aid, public housing, public financial assistance
including unemployment benefits, the right to operate a motor
vehicle, or the opportunity to serve as a foster or adoptive
parent. The proposed law would allow local ordinances or bylaws that
prohibit the public use of marijuana, and would not affect existing
laws, practices, or policies concerning operating a motor vehicle or
taking other actions while under the influence of marijuana, unlawful
possession of prescription forms of marijuana, or selling,
manufacturing, or trafficking in marijuana.

The money received from the new civil penalties would go to the city
or town where the offense occurred.

The YES on Question 2 website is at http://sensiblemarijuanapolicy.org/

Many, but not all, of the newspaper clippings about Question 2 may be
found at http://www.mapinc.org/topic/Committee+for+Sensible+Marijuana+Policy


MICHIGAN: PROPOSAL 1: The proposed law would:

Permit physician approved use of marijuana by registered patients with
debilitating medical conditions including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS,
hepatitis C, MS and other conditions as may be approved by the
Department of Community Health.

Permit registered individuals to grow limited amounts of marijuana for
qualifying patients in an enclosed, locked facility.

Require Department of Community Health to establish an identification
card system for patients qualified to use marijuana and individuals
qualified to grow marijuana.

Permit registered and unregistered patients and primary caregivers to
assert medical reasons for using marijuana as a defense to any
prosecution involving marijuana.

The YES on Proposal 1 website is at http://stoparrestingpatients.org/

Most, but not all, of the newspaper clippings about Proposal 1 may be
found at http://www.mapinc.org/topic/Michigan+Coalition+for+Compassionate+Care



MEASURE 57 – Increases sentences for drug trafficking
(methamphetamine, heroin, “ecstasy,” cocaine), theft against elderly
and specified repeat property and identity theft crimes; requires
addiction treatment for certain offenders.

MEASURE 61 – Creates mandatory minimum prison sentences for certain
theft, identity theft, forgery, drug, and burglary crimes.

Please see this website for additional details http://www.sos.state.or.us/elections/nov42008/meas.html

If both measures pass, the one with more votes becomes law. Most of
the newspaper editorial page statements from Oregon newspapers have
opposed both measures or recommended Measure 57 as the better choice.


Prepared by: Richard Lake, Senior Editor www.drugnews.org