Massachusetts Democrat: ‘Decriminalize’ drug users

Massachusetts Democrat: ‘Decriminalize’ drug users

BOSTON —Democratic gubernatorial candidate Juliette Kayyem said Wednesday she would be open to decriminalizing drugs beyond marijuana to help those who use them get treatment instead of filling up prisons.


Kayyem, one of five Democrats seeking the party’s nomination, pointed to a ballot question approved by Massachusetts voters in 2008 decriminalizing possession of up to an ounce of pot, making it a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine.


“So marijuana is a $100 fine. That seems about right given the challenges we have,” Kayyem said.
Kayyem said that if elected governor, she would focus on getting nonviolent offenders who use cocaine, crack or other drugs into drug courts or diversion programs, saying they are often doing more harm to themselves than anyone else.


Asked if she specifically supported decriminalizing cocaine, Kayyem did not expressly say. “No, those are drugs that would be allowable in drug courts” that help get people into treatment instead of serving jail time, she said.


But asked if she would consider decriminalization of other drugs besides pot, she said, “I would definitely be receptive to it.” She declined to list specific drugs.


“This is how we’re going to do it, to begin to think creatively about why we’re putting people into jail and losing entire generations of people because of bad, false sentencing,” she said.
Another Democratic candidate for governor, Joe Avellone, said if elected he would create an Office of Recovery under the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and expand the number of drug courts.


Avellone said it’s more effective and less expensive to send people to treatment through drug court than to send them to prison.


Source: WCVB