Keene City Council Votes Against Jail for Pot Users; Re-Vote Likely

The Keene city council voted earlier this month in favor of asking the state to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. But the council will likely vote again on the matter at its October 1 meeting, and the vote is expected to be close.

“The war on drugs is over and we lost,” Frederick Parsells told the Valley Post. Parsells is a member of the Keene planning commission, and a former Keene police detective. He served on the Keene city council for six years. It was a letter that Parsells recently sent to the city council that prompted the vote.

American taxpayers spend billions of dollars annually on jail for people who have never been convicted of a violent crime. The U.S. incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than any other nation, according to the Justice Policy Institute www.justicepolicy.org

About 1.5 million people are arrested each year in the U.S. for drug law violations, some 40 percent of them for marijuana possession, according to the Drug Policy Alliance www.drugpolicy.org

At its Sept. 17 meeting, the Keene city council voted 9-5 in favor of sending a letter to the state legislature asking it to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. The vote directed city staff to draft the letter for the council’s final approval. But after the vote, two members who had voted “yes” said they had accidentally voted the wrong way. The one council member who was absent for the vote told the Keene Sentinel she would support sending the letter to the state.

More information is available from Parsells, whose phone number is listed.

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