Mass. drug decriminalization could extend beyond marijuana

Photo: luxury.rehabs.com
Photo: luxury.rehabs.com

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Juliette Kayyem said Wednesday she would consider decriminalizing some drugs, including cocaine, in an effort to treat non-violent drug offenders differently within the criminal justice system.

“Decriminalization of marijuana has been important. I think we should consider it for other drugs, or create more drug courts so that people do not fall into the criminal justice system,” Kayyem said.

When asked after her public appearance which drugs she was referring to, Kayyem did not mention specifics.

“I would actually want to look at that, but I mean, I think what you’re seeing in other states is getting, you know, getting drug offenders, whatever the drugs are, it might be cocaine, it might be crack, whatever, out of the criminal justice system by essentially decriminalizing it and getting them into drug court or whatever else it is.” Kayyem said. The state currently has drug courts in some jurisdictions that require defendants to enter rehabilitation, residential placement, education or job programs.

In an interview after the event at Suffolk University Law School, Kayyem told the News Service she does not support decriminalizing a small amount of cocaine in the same manner that possession of smaller amounts of marijuana was deemed a civil offense in 2008. Kayyem said she meant the word “decriminalization” to refer to moving offenders out of the criminal justice system, into specialized drug courts and treatment programs and enacting sentencing reform for non-violent offenders.

“I meant it in terms of the policy, of using our criminal justice system to deal with drug problems,” Kayyem said, adding “not how it came to mean decriminalization of marijuana.”

“We should orient our criminal justice system so that the punishment of non-violent drug use offenders is not to put them in jail,” Kayyem said.

At the Suffolk event, Kayyem said the $100 fine for marijuana possession in Massachusetts “seems about right.” The $100 fine is for possession of one ounce or less of the drug and is considered a civil offense.

Kayyem described criminal justice in the state as “led by a whole law and order philosophy that no one’s ever been able to get their head to just rethink it,” putting too many people in jail and leaving the state with a recidivism rate that’s too high.

Kayyem, one of five Democrats seeking to replace Gov. Deval Patrick next year, took part in a forum at Suffolk Law School hosted by the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service and fielded questions from the audience of about 75 students, academics and others.

Many of Kayyem’s answers and anecdotes during the forum stemmed from her experience as an Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Kayyem’s involvement on the ground in the Gulf Coast states after the BP oil spill disaster played into what she said is her experience dealing with different communities and situations.

Kayyem said the challenge for the next governor would be in the storage and transmission of renewable energy. She suggested tax incentives for “green banks” that would invest in clean energy infrastructure.

Asked by former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, a vocal opponent of casino gambling in the state, about casinos, Kayyem said she has “been pretty clear that I do not support the repeal of casinos.”

Kayyem said the budget she envisions and plans for upon taking office would rely on funds from the licensing and revenue of operational casinos. The process set up by the expanded gaming law and executed by the Gaming Commission, Kayyem said, is the most rigorous in the country and made her more comfortable with gaming. Using revenue from gaming to pay for social programs is another reason she would keep the law.

“If there are ways to replace that revenue, that I can do on day one, I will constantly reassess the casino process. I can’t do that on day one. So I’m not going to come in on day one and say ‘I want to repeal them,’” Kayyem told Harshbarger, who disclosed that his wife is a supporter of Kayyem.

On pushing for increased revenue through more progressive taxation, Kayyem again mentioned that her short-term budget can’t rely on funds that would face strong legislative opposition. Kayyem told the crowd there’s “only so much running at windmills I want to do as governor. I want to get things done.”

Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.