Advisory Committee opposes marijuana bylaw

by susan on September 29, 2009

It’s a safe bet that the ladder truck article will generate significant discussion at town meeting tonight, but another article that may spark debate is the bylaw concerning public use of marijuana.

The Board of Selectmen support the article, but the Advisory Committee last week voted unanimously to oppose it. Their concern centered on the wording of the bylaw, as well as the increased fine.

The Advisory Committee felt the wording could allow for criminal prosecution for marijuana consumption. Interim Chief Jane Moran has said that was not the intention of the bylaw. The language is being reviewed by town counsel and may be amended at town meeting.

But even if the language is changed, the Advisory Committee said they would still oppose the article because they feel the proposed $400 fine is too steep. At a joint meeting with the Board of Selectmen last week, Advisory Committee member John Butler noted the fine for public consumption of alcohol is only $50.

Moran said the fine is intended to be punitive. She said most of the marijuana citations go to young people. “Young adults are switching from alcohol to marijuana,” she said. “They’re spending more money on iPods than they will on this fine.”

What do you think? Is $400 to steep? Or will an expensive fine keep some kids from lighting up in the first place?

1 John September 29, 2009 at 1:03 PM

I think that the Advisory Committee is once again crossing the line and going beyond their expertise.

2 CHRIS September 29, 2009 at 3:10 PM

The kids wont pay the fine anyway. It will be the parents. Parents who have children who are making mistakes dont need another financial burden.

3 Mimi22 September 29, 2009 at 4:05 PM

Childrens’ mistakes ARE their parents’ mistakes. Someone needs to be accountable. Make them pay and maybe they will actually take the time to parent their children instead of allowing them to get behind the wheel of a car stoned.

“Parents who have children who are making mistakes dont need another financial burden.” I love this kind of thinking – poor, poor unlucky parents widing up with misbehaving children and nothing whatsoever they could have done about it. And we wonder where these kids are learning to run away from accountability, well from their parents of course!

Teach your children social responsibility or pay the price for allowing them to risk other people’s safety. If you don’t want to parent and take on ALL the responsibility it entails then don’t have children. They are not fashion accessories.

4 CHRIS September 29, 2009 at 4:39 PM

Quite obviously you dont have older children. Not all their mistakes are their parents mistakes. You’ll see when they get older. How exactly will you make them pay? Take their birthday money from grandpa? Perhaps you havent noticed the economy but there arent many jobs out there for kids. So what money are you going to extract from them?

This is not running away from accountability. It was made a law for a reason. What Moran is trying to do is change the law, to change the will of the voters of Southborough.

You can “teach” them until your blue-in-the-face and they can still get into trouble. Dont be so naive. Talk with friends who have older children. You’ll hear that no matter how much discipline and coaching and seeking of professional help that you do, it doesnt always guarantee results.

And if they get involved in the legal system and you are paying for probation and legal costs, the last thing you want is increased fines.

Fashion accessory? If you went through the pain I have you wouldnt be so casual about such a comment. I wont wish that pain on you…yet.

5 Mimi22 September 30, 2009 at 9:37 AM

CHRIS, I am very sorry that you are personally going through such a tough time. I do not have teenage or adult children but, thinking about this last night, I can count about three dozen relatives and close friends’ children in that age range. They are all shapes and sizes, all manner of interests from sports to music. One has been living in Tanzania teaching village children for the past 18 months and will be there for about 18 more! Some are brillant, some just get by in school, some are from very priviledged families and some from very blue-collar families. I can say that, to my knowledge, none of them has ever been in trouble with the law. I tried to think of what they might have in common and what my friends and relatives all did that was consistent and it was this – strong emphasis on education, hard work which doesn’t allow for illegal activity, strong focus on social responsibility which runs contrary to illegal activity and, last but not least, severe penalties for bad behavior starting from their earliest years. I wish I could think of a dud in the group and look at where the trouble started, but I can’t.

As for how to make children pay, it starts when they are very little, when the penalty for misbehavior is some tears and a night without TV. It then moves up (my friends and siblings tell me) to suspended priviledges, old-fashioned grounding and the taking away of video games, ipods and now cell phones. One hopes that does the trick, but once they are driving drunk or stoned, I feel licenses should be taken away as should the cars and the freedom that goes with them. And, yes, they should be expected to pay their own fines, either by earning the money or forgoing the “allowance” their parents give them.

I sympathize with your financial concerns, but mine are for another group of people. Who pays when your or anyone else’s adult child’s “mistakes” affect others? Who pays for vandalism in our neighborhoods? Who is going to pay when one of them drives stoned and kills or injures an innocent person? Who will pay another parent for their dead, injured, paralyzed child? Who will pay to raise the children who no longer have one or both parents to take care of them?

It is a bad business all around but if a “mistake” is made, the one who made it should pay the consequences. If they cannot, then the person who still has the ability to take away the car, withhold the allowance and toys, etc. is the next logical choice. If the “child” is an adult and no longer under the influence of a parent, they are on their own. If a parent is still paying for their child’s mistakes at that point, it is pretty clear what the problem is and has probably always been.

If the financial consequences are too great maybe the “mistakes” will stop happening. The public needs to be protected. It’s not our responsibility to love someone else’s child enough to forgive their mistakes, pay their fines, and let them keep endangering us and OUR children.

Will I one day be bailing a beloved child out of jail or paying their fines? I don’t know. But I do know that I will hold that child accountable and insist that he or she share the burden when and if the time comes.

That’s the best I can do.

6 Jeremy October 2, 2009 at 10:53 AM

Chris – I agree with all your points. I’m sure that you are a fine parent and do the best that you can do.

Mimi – You will learn many lessons in life from your naivety.

7 CHRIS October 2, 2009 at 6:23 PM

Mimi

You and your friends appear to have been very fortunate. Education and hard work WAS part of their rearing.

Every approach to discipline that you suggested was used including taking away birthday money.

To answer some of your questions:
Who pays when your or anyone else’s adult child’s “mistakes” affect others?

“Who pays for vandalism in our neighborhoods? ”

Most people who get stoned are not committing vandalism. There are more problems with vandalism from alcohol and the fine is significantly less

“Who is going to pay when one of them drives stoned and kills or injures an innocent person? ”

Again good point but the same goes for people who drink, who drive using a cell phone or are texting behind the wheel.

“Who will pay another parent for their dead, injured, paralyzed child? Who will pay to raise the children who no longer have one or both parents to take care of them?”

Same answer as above

“If a parent is still paying for their child’s mistakes at that point, it is pretty clear what the problem is and has probably always been.”

I know that there is a hugely difficult period where you struggle with when you toss your child away for their own good. Pretend if you will that misfortune strikes you as it did me and judge when, exactly when you as a mother give up on your child.

“If the financial consequences are too great maybe the “mistakes” will stop happening. ”

Financial consequences dont work either…ask any probation officer.

“The public needs to be protected. It’s not our responsibility to love someone else’s child enough to forgive their mistakes, pay their fines, and let them keep endangering us and OUR children.”

I challenge you to keep that same position when your in-law or friend is crying at the kitchen asking for your advice and you both lament that he or she was “such a great kid”

“Will I one day be bailing a beloved child out of jail or paying their fines? I don’t know. But I do know that I will hold that child accountable and insist that he or she share the burden when and if the time comes.”

Sharing the burden is fine. But try and imagine that you are. Imagine that you’ve spent more than $50K to help your child and it hasnt worked.

One last point about parents and mistakes. Do you think that the Murphy girls “mistake” was the fault of the parents? I bet the parents mentioned endlessly about drinking and driving.

Do you think the the Hon boy suicide was the mistake of his parents?

Do you think the Manoloules boys crime is the parents fault?

That’s the best I can do.

8 Mimi22 October 3, 2009 at 7:57 AM

Sounds like we all are just trying to do the best we can. In the meantime, without a clear idea on how this can be prevented early, I agree that stiffer penalties are a better bet than laxer ones. Sorry, but I do.

Again, I am sorry that you have had these problems. No one should have to go through what you are going through.

As for blame, I don’t think it helps. In the cases you name, I don’t know the parents or the children so I can’t say. But what I can say is that I, and I bet you reading this, all know parents in our community who turn a blind eye to underage drinking, who have “a few” and drive home themselves, who trust paid caretakers with their children instead of taking the time to be at home and send the message that someone is watching and looking out for their kids, who want to be their kid’s “friend” instead of a disciplinarian and whose kids are allowed too much freedom, too much “down time” and too much money with which to get themselves into trouble.

Is this the case with EVERY problem child? No, but it is still a problem. Let me stress that I am not implying that this is your problem CHRIS, but I don’t know you and there are going to be the cases where parents are doing everything right and it still goes backwards. I just don’t think it is the majority of cases.

I don’t think “blame” is productive but I do believe that, regardless of blame, someone needs to be accountable. I am sorry if it makes an additional burden fall on the parents who have done everything “right” but what else can we do? Like Chief Moran said at town meeting, a law that lets these kids just tear up a ticket and throw it away is not the solution either. I hope the new regulation is a move in the right direction.

9 bob a October 3, 2009 at 8:35 AM

For the wealthy the $400 fine is nothing but for the other side of the tracks…..

I guess mimi with no kids has never seen how st markers handle their problems…..

This law only hurts the ones who can’t afford it.

10 DLD October 4, 2009 at 8:23 AM

A huge part of the problem is that wealthy or not, too many parents let these kids off the hook by paying the fine for them. If Southborough Police really wants to have an impact on the kids they should discourage that practice. They should set up a program that would allow kids to work off all or part of their fine with the police department. That would make a much bigger impression than mom and dad writing a check.

11 marty October 6, 2009 at 3:02 PM

Bob A’s comments are not very helpful to this discussion. Mimi22 went to great lengths to explain her opinion and thoughts. She deserves more than a snide “I guess mimi with no kids has never seen how st markers handle their problems…..”

Also, re John’s comments on the Advisory going beyond their expertise, I think John is probably correct.

Marty

12 Mimi22 October 6, 2009 at 4:45 PM

I never said that I don’t have children, but that I don’t have teenage or adult chidren.

I never mentioned St. Mark’s, I am talking about families who live in this community and whose children go to both public and private schools.

DLD I like your suggestion of community service. These kids should pay with their time in a way that requires helping out their community. But then, next you will have parents complaining that taking them away from their extra-cirriculars will jeopardise their futures. To that I say, if they are getting stoned in public, they are making that choice already.

CHRIS I would rather have that in-law or friend crying about the financial burden of having to bail out their problem child than having an in-law or friend crying over the death of a child due to another child’s negligence and irresponsibility. Like I said, neither is optimal, but I prefer the former to the latter.

Marty – thanks. I am trying to see both sides of this, but in the end, with no good solution, I am still hoping the lesser of two evils will move us in the right direction at least.

I will admit one thing though, in the end I don’t think that most parents of problem children, CHRIS potentially being one of the exceptions (and there are ALWAYS exceptions), are as blameless as they would like to think they are.

I am very sorry, but that is what my experience tells me and that is how I feel.

13 bob a October 7, 2009 at 8:36 AM

“Childrens’ mistakes ARE their parents’ mistakes. Someone needs to be accountable. Make them pay and maybe they will actually take the time to parent their children instead of allowing them to get behind the wheel of a car stoned.”

“I love this kind of thinking – poor, poor unlucky parents widing up with misbehaving children and nothing whatsoever they could have done about it. And we wonder where these kids are learning to run away from accountability, well from their parents of course! ”

Parents don’t allow their kid to drive stoned.

It is NOT allways the parents fault.

Accountability?

The wealthy just pay the fine for their kid and their is no real pain.

Those who are struggling??

Skip the fine and take away the liscence to drive.

14 Legal Bud Reviews October 29, 2009 at 4:47 PM

Drunk in public is only $50 but possession is $400? wow. That’s horrible. Why not make them equal? or raise both. That is what the blog was about.

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