Girding for New Marijuana Law

Girding for New Marijuana Law
Posted by CN Staff on December 30, 2008 at 06:36:19 PT
By Milton Valencia, Globe Staff
Source: Boston Globe 
Boston, MA -- Police officers should issue tickets, similar to a building code citation, to anyone possessing an ounce or less of marijuana, under an advisory released by the state yesterday recommending ways to manage the law decriminalizing possession of the drug. The law is effective Jan 2.Violators may appeal the citation - a civil infraction - in court within 21 days or pay the $100 fine set by the statute. Municipalities would be responsible for collecting the fines, according to the recommendations.
With much confusion over how police should handle marijuana possession, ranging from enforcement measures to whether officers themselves can be punished for using the drug, the state's Executive Office of Public Safety and Security released the seven pages of guidelines hoping to set a clear standard before the law takes effect Friday.The guidelines, which are not binding, were issued even as aspects of the law continue to trigger new questions - such as whether people who smoke marijuana in public face only the civil fine as punishment."It gives some people guidance so that they can move forward, so that we can eliminate any confusion as to how this statute is meant to be applied, and alleviate any concerns," said Kevin M. Burke, secretary of Public Safety and Security.The recommendations also unveiled new interpretations of the initiative petition, similar to acts passed in 13 states, that was approved overwhelmingly by voters in November. Not only is possessing an ounce or less of marijuana a civil offense, but the same amount of any substance - including hashish, or hash oil - with the active ingredient THC would also be decriminalized.In addition, the state is asking communities to consider passing local ordinances criminalizing the use of marijuana in public, which, as of Friday, would not warrant any punishment beyond the civil citation.The law states that simple possession is not an arrestable or reportable offense that would taint someone's criminal record.Violators under 18 years of age would have to pay the fine and attend a drug abuse counseling course, or have the fine increased to $1,000.But the law does not specify how the fine should be issued, leaving decisions up to communities. "There needs to be a statewide standard," said Brockton Police Chief William Conlon, who said the law as written leaves too much discretion to local communities. "It wouldn't be fair to anyone to have a different standard across the state."Elaine Driscoll, a Boston Police Department spokeswoman, said Commissioner Edward F. Davis has not seen the state's recommendations, but said he will review them while also seeking the counsel of city lawyers. She said the commissioner has contacted City Hall on the possibility of a bylaw banning the use of marijuana in public, but no determination has been made.Under the state's recommendations, police would have to rely on their training and experience to identify whether a substance is marijuana and determine the amount. The individual can be arrested if it exceeds an ounce.If a ticket is issued, the substance would not be tested, since no crime is involved. However, Burke said, the officer's testimony could be used in a court hearing if the ticket is appealed.Burke said his agency and the state Department of Youth Services is establishing a drug counseling program for juveniles that would be funded by the state. However, it will be several weeks before details of the program are announced, he said.Municipalities would be responsible for creating and tracking their tickets in partnership with local courts, and for collecting fines. Revenues will go into the community's general fund.Addressing concerns that police officers would be allowed to use marijuana, the recommendations note that the law does not ban municipalities from following their own personnel policies, which typically maintain that public safety employees refrain from any illegal substance.The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education issued its own advisory yesterday stating that the law does not restrict public or charter schools from following their own disciplinary procedures regarding marijuana possession on school grounds or at school events."This doesn't change the existing policy of schools," said Heidi Guarino, chief of staff for the education agency. "In no way do we see this as an open door for students to start bringing pot to school, no way."Source: Boston Globe (MA)Author:  Milton Valencia, Globe StaffPublished: December 30, 2008 Copyright: 2008 Globe Newspaper CompanyContact: letter globe.comWebsite: Articles:Marijuana Law Comes With Challenges The 'War on Drugs' Behind Bars 
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on December 31, 2008 at 14:49:01 PT
That Firefox spell check
that works on all sites, as well as this one, is one of the reasons I just love Firefox.
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on December 31, 2008 at 14:47:44 PT
Girding for New Marijuana Law
Un-girding, more than a bit, is what they really need to do.Take that gun off and the tazer and the cuffs... and oh yes... you won't need any truncheons, pepper spray, or night vision goggles... or any of the other stuff that you might want to "gird" yourself with. You don't have to "gird" yourself to go into action with a pen and a ticket book.
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Comment #7 posted by josephlacerenza on December 31, 2008 at 11:25:29 PT
IE does not have a spell check feature. This is the 1st I've used Mozilla firefox. I do not have it on my other computer.
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Comment #6 posted by dankhank on December 30, 2008 at 18:49:27 PT
checkin' spelling ...
spellcheck is in Mozilla, for sure ... don't know 'bout IE7
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Comment #5 posted by josephlacerenza on December 30, 2008 at 10:55:55 PT
Just a side note
"There needs to be a statewide standard," said Brockton Police Chief William Conlon. I lived in Oregon about 5 years ago, while I was there a city went from a dry town to allowing drinking in the city limits. The rest of the state allowed drinking. What a crock, the statement is a cry for help. Help, Help, cannabis is going to ruin our children and the future as we, prohibitionists, know it!!! When did you add a spell check feature FoM?
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on December 30, 2008 at 08:31:31 PT
Thank you. 
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Comment #3 posted by HempWorld on December 30, 2008 at 08:17:59 PT
"If a ticket is issued, the substance would not be
tested, since no crime is involved."Slip of the tongue?That's right, no crime is involved if people decide to put into their bodies whatever they want. Except possession laws make it a crime and these laws are patently unconstitutional but maybe we'll get around to that in a few decades.
On a mission from God!
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on December 30, 2008 at 07:46:48 PT
FoM & afterburner, simple Editorial is also at the Metrowest Daily NewsI suspect it is also in another of those like papers...
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Comment #1 posted by afterburner on December 30, 2008 at 07:32:22 PT
Keep It Simple
Editorial: Making a simple law about marijuana too complicated - Brockton, MA - The Enterprise.
GateHouse News Service.
Posted Dec 26, 2008   02:38 PM
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