There are specific reasons why possession and use of marijuana should never be decriminalized. Most states in the United States are inhabited by people who are more intelligent than those in California and Rhode Island. In Massachusetts decriminalization is being considered. Their excuse is that they feel it is too expensive to keep drug abusers in jail. But it is the responsibility of the Department of Corrections to make inmates work long enough hours to pay for the expenses they cost us.
Reducing the penalty for possession and use to just a $100 fine for 1 ounce will bring about a situation of virtually no deterrents. By the way, 1 ounce translates to 60-120 joints. Do you really want a criminal walking among children in a public playground carrying 60-120 joints? We will have communities where users will light up their pot pipes on their front porches, waving to the police as they go by. They will smoke their joints on the street corners, near playgrounds, school yards, bus stops, and places of business, unafraid of consequences. They will walk right by the front of our homes and their marijuana smoke will enter our houses and our lungs. In your day-to-day life it will be difficult for you or your children to avoid it.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand the first major argument against decriminalization. Hello!!! It's gaseous! This is instant infringement upon the rights of every person who chooses to be drug-free. Such rights should never become vulnerable to the democratic process, such as in a referendum. Such rights should be safeguarded by our elected officials. It took decades and various legal actions to get tobacco smokers more considerate of non-smokers. Why would anybody expect someone who is stoned to be considerate on their own initiative? Only serious legal penalties will be a deterrent.
The next argument is that THC, the active ingredient in marijuana smoke is flesh accumulative. That means that it can be held in the body after the active usage and later re-released unexpectedly. Without warning a user could become under the influence while driving or operating dangerous machinery. If they have an accident and kill one of your loved ones, will you still be inclined to say "Live and let live." ?
There is also evidence of significant detrimental effect on the mental health of the user. In the workplace the user is less dependable or willing to take on responsibility. A person who might have been able to work a steady job becomes unable or unwilling to work. A person who would have been a talented manager or innovator, is instead content to just get by. It costs the economy and society to an extent difficult to estimate. You just have to work along side of a few such marijuana addicts to know the negative effects.
So please vote against Massachusetts 2008 Ballot Question 2 - Decriminalization of Marijuana. Vote to uphold your right to breathe Drug-Free Air. Send the message that society does not become more "enlightened" with increased marijuana use. It becomes more degraded. Decriminalization reduces respect for individual rights, increases public danger, and depresses the economy. It is not a joking matter.