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Sheriff candidates discuss marijuana, ICE detainees, experience for the job

Steve Tompkins and Alex Rhalimi, running for Suffolk County Sheriff

Tompkins (l) and Rhalimi.

Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins and challenger Alex Rhalimi both oppose legalization of recreational marijuana, but for different reasons.

At a candidate forum sponsored by RoxVote in Hibernian Hall tonight, Tompkins said he worries that legalization would mean gummy bears and other comestibles laced with very potent THC that would prove too attractive to the county's many students - both college-age and younger, to the point where things would quickly "get out of control." Noting that 70% of the inmates in Suffolk County's two jails already have some sort of drug problem, the last thing we need is a new drug problem, he said.

Rhalimi also opposed legalization of recreational marijuana because, he said, it would prove to be a gateway drug to opioids.

Both said they support medicinal use of marijuana, however.

In response to a question from moderator and Globe reporter Meghan Irons, Tompkins said he's started rethinking his contract with the federal government to house people picked up by ICE to await possible deportation, even if they are not facing current criminal charges. Tompkins said he needs to do more research on the issue, however, before making a decision that might affect other parts of his cooperative work with the feds.

Rhalmi, however, had no such qualms: He said if elected he would abrogate the contract to store detainees in Suffolk County jails because of questions over the detainees' constitutional rights. He emphasized, however that immigrants who have committed serious crimes should be booted from the country.

Rhalmi, making his first try for the position, said he has both bachelor's and master's degrees in criminal justice with additional training in various criminal-justice fields and that building a limousine company from scratch and running it successfully for 17 years shows he has the management experience to lead the $103-million sheriff's department.

Tompkins, sheriff since Andrea Cabral left the post in 2013, said book learning is nice, but hardly the same as his on-the-job experience. "They should re-elect me because I know what I'm doing," he said, adding that growing up in the projects in Harlem gives him a unique perspective on trying to help his inmates break out of the incarceration cycle. He pointed to the launch of a new program, dubbed Oasis, that will provide a 45-day detox program for incoming inmates with drug problems - and pair them with programs that can help them once released from jail.

Rhalimi said he would spend long hours on Beacon Hill if need be to secure more funding for treatment and mental-health programs. Tompkins said that wouldn't work - instead, he said he is setting up a 501(c)(3) charity to try to raise private funds that would go exclusively to Suffolk County programs, rather than possibly being claimed by the state.

The two are running in the Democratic primary on Sept. 8 - a Thursday. In addition to Boston, the jail serves Chelsea, Winthrop and Revere.

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Comments

It would be cool if people would stop using the BS gateway drug argument. Opioid abuse has gone down in the states where marijuana has been legalized.

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Show me one person who is a heroin/meth addict that cites smoking pot as the start of their addiction.

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Less of a gateway and more of a roadblock.

And as far as the comestibles, we currently have rum-soaked cakes, chocolates filled with Kahlua shots and whatnot and they don't seem to all end up in our school yards.

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I would like to add that those who want to use the "gateway drug" argument need to look at their research methods. If you only ask those who use hard drugs if they started out using marijuana, the answer will probably be yes for a lot of them. However, to prove it's a gateway drug, you have to ask all marijuana users (or a representative sample that is sound statistically) if they moved on to hard drugs. Since most people who have used marijuana do not move on to harder drugs, the gateway drug argument falls apart.

I am amazed at the level of ignorance and outright lying that is going on when it comes to marijuana legalization. Especially in this area. What I find amazing is the way everyone seems to be going with their gut rather than looking at the evidence, and using their gut reactions AS evidence. It's very unscientific.

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I am not saying I back the gateway drug argument, but the study you described is not quite how statistics work. We are more interested in the effect size. No, not all marijuana users go on to use heroin, but not all cigarette smokers go on to die of lung cancer either. The question is, does the use of marijuana increase the probability of someone moving on to harder drugs, and if so, does that impact enough of the population that we really care? To do this, one could get a representative sample of the population, stratified into groups of people who used marijuana or not (the control group), and then look at the rates of drug use within those two groups. I am guessing someone is going to tell me that this has been done, but it's actually more complicated because of things like socioeconomic status, peers' use of drugs, rate of use, etc. You get the gist though.

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People believe this argument as an ideology, an article of faith, not based on science. Basically these kind of people are all going to have to die off before the argument goes away.

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Someone should prosecute you for your criminally ugly signs.

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With a side of stupidface.

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for providing a valuable public service by removing Doug the Bug's crappy and creepy signs. Even though he is on the wrong side of the marijuana issue, he has my vote.

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That settles it, he has my vote.

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I never heard a good explanation of their day to day job responsibilities and actions.

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And hunt down bands of Merry Men.

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The opposition to legalizing pot?

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In Massachusetts, they are court officers. They serve papers (warrants, subpeonas), they transport and house criminals in the state court system, they staff courtroom 'bailiff' security details, and other similar duties. I don't think they are involved in the prosecution of active investigations, but take over once a person has been arrested and will be housed in a county jail and prosecuted in the state system.

So basically, their opinion on the concept of legal weed has little to no bearing on the activities for which the State has designated a Sheriff responsible, so who cares what they think. The ICE thing, though, is relevant.

https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleVI/Chapter37

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It does allow them to pad their "drug" arrest numbers and look all Sheriff-like and shit.

"gateway drug" and/or "addictive" are code words for "I failed my reading and science classes in high school"

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I recognize that they have arresting powers, but beyond blowing smoke or shooting up in front of a Sheriff, in what circumstances would they actually be involved in an investigation or arrest? Genuinely curious.

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Serving warrants on low-level dealers and people who skip paying the tickets. Being antiweed also means Being Tough on Drugs (tm)

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I don't know about planet swirly, but on planet earth low-level dealers also sell fun harmless things like meth, crack and heroin.

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Sounds like you have a one-stop shopping center going on.

Meanwhile, care to explain how that neighbor who splits things up for just his friends so he can cover his costs is also dealing meth? Because there are numerous such people around if you aren't looking for harder stuff.

Sorry if "how educated grownups roll" isn't satisfying your Trumponian Universe mythology of urban decay.

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They do not work in the courts. Those are court officers.

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ICE is dangerously unaccountable. They have the power to detain without charges anyone within 100 miles of a US border. Because coastlines are borders, that's almost everyone. They have used that power to detain many people without access to legal counsel, and have deported US citizens. No state agencies should cooperate with them.

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The other side of the coin to consider is where they would go if there was not a contract with the County Courthouse.

I have spoken with many people who advocate for people who have been detained and many of them are against terminating the contract because it means that they would just get pushed off to a different facility. Away from their family, network of assistance and even lawyers etc. The Federal government will not magically just let people go in this situation, they will just move them down the road. At least keeping them in the county limits they can be reached.

This is why we do not govern by kneejerk reactions. I know Thompkins has considered this issue and has done so for a while now. I would rather have a Sheriff that considers all the impacts before making a decision.

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cool. eff both of them then.

i haven't used marijuana in years but we dont need people that admit to being utterly backwards.

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Marijuana is NOT a gateway drug to anything. And if it is , so is alcohol, and tobacco, and mothers milk. It's a nonsensical argument made by people with no facts.

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i was breastfed and still drink milk to this day

yesterday i even used it in my cinnamon toast crunch

i've even had chocolate milk

and ice cream

the theory....checks out

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We can't have millions of innocent children being born and becoming addicted to milk at a young age. THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

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And I ate some celery before I used it, so I guess celery is a gateway drug.

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And I consumed 2 UMass dining commons hamburgers before I dropped the acid. This is getting very very interesting. I think we have enought proof. Food is a gateway drug.

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If either if these Sweeneys we're to call a colleague or two in Colorado they'd realize this 'evil gummy bear' line of defense is horses#it.

Blaming MJ as a gateway drug shows just how completely out of touch they are.

Remember to vote 'YES on 4' and bring Massachusetts into the 21st century.

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I smoked my first joint at age 17. At age 64 I'm still smoking and had a bowl last night. I never tried any opioids except for one prescription for pain. I'm not an opioid addict. What happened to the alleged gateway?

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I don't disagree with you on the gateway drug thing, but I would caution against assuming that your life is representative of every other person ever.

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I am so sick of this "gateway" bs and it is in fact bs. If they want to talk about gateway lets talk about ciggies (the first of which I tried), alcohol (the 2nd thing I tried), caffeine, prescription drugs, etc., etc.

It's all propaganda. Let's keep it illegal so the drug dealers, cartels, etc. can continue to profit off of it and make it dangerous rather than the state making $. The DEA doesn't want it legal bc it hurts their bottom line tremendously. The war on drugs is the biggest joke and the lies are just gobbled up by the ignorant sheep that listen to these fools.

People need to actually get the facts about pot and not listen to these political boneheads.

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I feel that the county system in Massachusetts no longer serves any unique purpose that remotely justifies its existence or expenditures.

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There's a state court district, with district attorneys and sheriffs and registrars of deeds etc, that happens to have the same boundaries as the former Suffolk County but there's been no county government since the 1990s. No county executive, no county legislature, etc. So fifteen or twenty years ago everyone came to the same conclusion you're just now reaching.

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It's just become an administrative subsection of the state, rather than a sort of independent entity. But it still exists, even if in a different form.

Saying it doesn't exist would be like saying we don't have a sheriff because the person who runs the jail doesn't go out and fight crime anymore.

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The author of the "gateway" study from 40 years ago says that her research showed that nicotine was the greatest gateway, not pot.

http://www.npr.org/2015/04/18/400658693/setting-the-record-straight-on-t...

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The real question comes down to this: Does, or does not the state want money from recreational mj sales. Because they are happening, have happened, and will continue to happen regardless of whether or not it passes. It is an observable fact that it takes less than an hour to procure pot from anywhere in the state. Let me off at any bus stop anywhere, I will have pot in my hands in a matter of minutes not hours.

The gateway drug line is BS and has been myth-busted to death. Now they wanna harp on edibles. Guess what politicians and law enforcement? Once again you are years behind on the issue. In the last month I have had weed candy, weed gummies, and weed ice cream. I do not have a medical card. It is all already out there, and there will be no "new drug problem" created. Its an already existing "problem" (market?) that will just be legitimized.

I am truly sorry that these PDs will lose funding from a de-escalated drug war and no longer be able to afford rocket launchers and armored military vehicles with which to errantly break down some old lady's door in search of Jamal and the 1/8th of weed or ten grams of heroin he's got.

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THC-laced gummy bears are hardly the most potent special confections to be found out there.

Haribo macht Kinder froh, und Erwachsene ebenso...

Wenn Doktor Hofman macht den Haribo... Wir alle werden den Kosmos verstehen...

Frankly, as a resident of Suffolk County I want to know which of these two is a better shot with a Winchester on a galloping horse and who will finally round up Ol' Mahetibel and her band of casually villainous outlaws.

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