My Way or the High Way

03Oct15

drugsEverybody knows by now that there is a drug abuse crisis in the state, so naturally Massachusetts officials are doing everything in their power to make life easier for drug users and dealers and harder for the police.

God forbid we do anything that might inconvenience the stoner community.

It seems that hardly a week goes by without these official enablers pushing some measure designed to make it easier to escape any unpleasant consequence of spending your days in a euphoric fog or supplying others with the means to do so.

Last week, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a police officer cannot stop a driver even if he observes plumes of acrid smelling marijuana smoke billowing from the car windows.

How is that situation any different than if, based on his observations, a police officer stops a driver he believes may be driving under the influence of liquor and then smells alcohol on his breath?

It isn’t any different, of course. Impaired driving is impaired driving, despite the common stoner claim that pot actually makes them drive “better.” Sure it does. And I hear it makes music sound awesome too.

state_house_fxNot to be outdone by the SJC, the Massachusetts Senate approved a bill last week that would eliminate the license suspension requirement for those convicted of “nonviolent” drug offenses. Under current law, anyone convicted of a crime involving hard drugs (heroin, cocaine, etc.) has his driver’s license suspended for up to five years, even if the violation was unrelated to driving.

When legislators insert words like “nonviolent” into these kinds of bills, they are hoping that you’ll think “harmless.” Dealing heroin or crack might be “nonviolent,” but it’s hardly harmless.

And the license suspensions are primarily aimed at traffickers. Simple possession of hard drugs can get you a one-year license suspension under the current law, but the harsher, two-year to five-year suspensions are reserved for dealers and repeat offenders.

Our state senators argue that taking away drug offenders’ licenses would make it harder for them to get to their “jobs” or to go on job interviews.

bike_man2These are the same senators who think that sober, law abiding citizens who actually do have jobs should walk, bike or take public transportation in order to save the planet.

But if not being allowed to drive is going to make life a little harder for a drug trafficker, well then the planet be damned!

You are expected to feel guilty for taking your car out on the road any more that absolutely necessary, but convicted drug dealers should be allowed to roam the highways, spewing carbon at will. Why don’t we just give them all gas debit cards too?

Apparently cars billowing clouds of marijuana smoke or driven by convicted drug offenders don’t affect the environment the way that vehicles driven by law-abiding citizens do.

It seems to me that keeping more vehicles off the road is at least as effective a green measure as all those horseshoe shaped bicycle racks or the “sharrows” painted on the streets to remind motorists to share the road with cyclists. And I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that fewer drivers on the road with a history of drug offenses probably makes for safer roads, too.

But what do I know. I’m just a Massachusetts driver, not a judge or a lawmaker.

[This column originally appeared in the October 1, 2015 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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