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Pot debate enters new dimension
April 7, 2003 Monday The Times Union (Albany, NY)

A California think tank is giving "New York State of Mind" a whole new meaning.

Amid the debate over marijuana, the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics, a nonprofit group devoted to the "right of each individual to think independently and to use the full spectrum of his or her mind," has thrown a new twist into the state's pot debate: Criminalizing even the recreational use of marijuana is an assault on free speech and free thought.

A report by attorney Richard Glen Boire, a CCLE analyst, says anti-pot laws are "equivalent to prior restraint on consciousness, an act even more disfavored under the First Amendment than a prior restraint on speech."

Boire's report, sent to lawmakers, acknowledges the state's interest in regulating people's behavior if it presents "a clear and present danger to others," but said there is "no legitimate interest, and no authority to limit the ranges of and types of consciousness that a citizen is permitted to experience."

The report comes as lawmakers are considering a bill to legalize pot for medical use, not as far as CCLE would like to go, but "an act of compassion for sick and injured people," says the group.