An Inconvenient Question

An Inconvenient Question
Posted by CN Staff on January 02, 2009 at 06:09:51 PT
Globe Editorial
Source: Boston Globe
Boston, MA -- The State's new law decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana takes effect today, and while it is not likely to turn Massachusetts into Amsterdam overnight, there are several loopholes and loose ends about the law - passed by the ballot Question 2 in November - that need addressing.The most pressing issue is how to enforce the core provision that replaces criminal penalties for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana with a $100 fine.
Now that pot possession is a civil offense, police lack the right to make an arrest or demand identification, so they cannot be sure the citations they issue will be paid. Worse, the new law requires the parents of minors be notified, and the youngsters be steered to a drug-awareness program. Most savvy teenagers know that starting today they need not produce identification or tell an officer their age.The solution for this is corrective language that would give police the right to confirm identity if they had reason to believe a person is in possession of the drug. Requiring ID can be intrusive, but proponents of Question 2 should have thought of that when they wrote the minors' provisions, which made the initiative more palatable to many voters.Some legislators are chary of seeming to overturn the will of the people, given that 65 percent of the voters approved Question 2. We agree. Similarly, the notion of local communities passing their own ordinances criminalizing use of marijuana in public seems unduly complicated.But corrective legislation designed to make Question 2 work is entirely appropriate. The state Legislature didn't ask for this fight, but it is often left to representative democracy to correct what government-by-ballot question has wrought.Source: Boston Globe (MA)Published: January 2, 2009 Copyright: 2009 Globe Newspaper CompanyContact: letter globe.comWebsite: Articles: A Simple Law Goes One Toke Over The Line Marijuana Law Shouldn't Pose Problems
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on January 02, 2009 at 16:45:17 PT
Boston Globe: Q&A: Decriminalizing Marijuana 
January 2, 2009 Gregory I. Massing, an attorney with the state's executive office of public safety & security, answered questions about the impact of a new marijuana decriminalization law, approved by Massachusetts voters in a November referendum, that went into effect today.Q: Are people allowed to smoke marijuana in public now as long as it is an ounce or less?A: The new $100 civil penalty for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana applies to smoking marijuana in public: you can't smoke it without possessing it. Question 2 gives municipalities the option to pass ordinances or by-laws to make public use of marijuana a crime.Q: Are people allowed to smoke or use marijuana in private?A: The same $100 civil penalty applies to smoking or using an ounce or less of marijuana in private. Question 2 did not change the criminal laws prohibiting possession of more than an ounce of marijuana, nor did it change the laws regarding distribution of any amount of marijuana.Q: Is it legal to buy or sell marijuana?A: Question 2 did not change the criminal laws prohibiting the distribution, sale, trafficking, or manufacturing of marijuana, or the possession of any amount of marijuana with intent to distribute, sell, traffic, or manufacture. Someone who buys more than an ounce of marijuana can be prosecuted for possessing more than an ounce of marijuana, which is still a crime. Someone who buys an ounce or less of marijuana is subject to the new $100 civil penalty. It is possible that someone who buys any amount of marijuana could be prosecuted for conspiracy to distribute marijuana. The decision whether or not to charge conspiracy is in the discretion of the relevant police department and district attorney's office.Q: Do the same laws apply to minors as adults?A: Yes, except under Question 2 there are additional provisions (including a requirement to attend a drug awareness program) for persons under 18 who possess an ounce or less of marijuana. See our web site for provisions for offenders under 18. More informationCopyright: 2009 Globe Newspaper Company
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on January 02, 2009 at 10:43:59 PT
the heavy and uncomfortable burden of injustice in these matters gets a little lighter.I'm very thankful.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on January 02, 2009 at 06:49:45 PT
Marijuana Decriminalization Law Goes Into Effect
From the Metro Staff at The Boston GlobeJanuary 2, 2009 It's no longer a crime to have one ounce or less of pot. The state's new marijuana decriminalization law, approved by voters in a November referendum, goes into effect today. Those who are caught with an ounce or less would get a ticket similar to a building code citation. They could appeal the civil infraction in court within 21 days or pay a $100 fine set in the law. Juvenile violators would have to pay the fine and attend a drug abuse counseling course, or have the fine increased to $1,000.The state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security released guidelines Monday in response to questions about the law. The state noted that the new statute applied to all substances that contain THC, which includes hashish and hash oil. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the active ingredient in marijuana that gives users a high. The state also asked communities to consider passing local ordinances criminalizing the use of marijuana in public, which today is only a civil offense if the smoker possesses an ounce or less.Copyright: 2009 Globe Newspaper Company
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