Law Enforcement Officials Cite Confusion Over New Massachusetts Marijuana Law

Ms. RedEye

Well-Known Member
BOSTON - Amid confusion among police and prosecutors, a voter-approved law to decriminalize the possession of marijuana goes into effect on Jan. 2, according to a spokeswoman for the state attorney general.

The date was set after the Governor's Council on Wednesday voted to certify the results of the Nov. 4 election including a ballot question to decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana.

The question was approved by 65 percent to 35 percent statewide and passed in every county in the state.

Emily J. LaGrassa, spokeswoman for the attorney general, said the ballot question takes effect 30 days after the officials results are presented to the Governor's Council. In an e-mail on Wednesday, she said Jan. 2 is the date the law takes effect.

Agawam Police Chief Robert D. Campbell said there is a tremendous amount of confusion about the law.

He said he had no information on how to issue fines or write citations. He said he is unsure who would conduct hearings on appeals of citations for marijuana possession.

"Somebody has to come up with a mechanism," the chief said.

Geline W. Williams, executive director of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, said there are some "very, very significant" problems with putting the law into effect.

Amherst Town Meeting member Terence J. Franklin, who supports Question 2, said the new law should be easy to put in place.

"Why not just leave people alone?" Franklin added. "What's the big deal? That will solve all the worries."

According to a legal bulletin provided by the state's Trial Court to the state's district courts, Question 2 replaces criminal penalties with civil penalties for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana.

A violator will be issued a civil citation and must either pay $100 civil penalty to a city or town clerk or request a civil hearing before a clerk or a judge.

A copy of the citation must be sent to parents of any violator younger than 18. Such teenagers are also required within one year to attend a drug awareness program, the bulletin said.

Terrell W. Harris, a spokesman for the state Executive Office of Public Safety, said official guidance on the law will be provided before it goes into effect.

Public Safety Secretary Kevin M. Burke is working on the effort with the attorney general and law enforcement agencies.

"There is nothing I can say publicly right now," Harris said.

Hampden District Attorney William M. Bennett said last month he would drop all pending charges of possessing an ounce or less of marijuana. Bennett said he would not prosecute new cases after Nov. 4.

Bennett said he would honor the spirit of the ballot question before it legally takes effect.

Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless said there are very serious issues that need to be resolved before the new law starts operating.

"I think that people are going to wake up to the fact that this wasn't the very simple piece of legislation it was sold to them as," Capeless said.

Material from the State House News Service was used for this report.

News Hawk: MsRedEye: 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Author: Dan Ring, The Republican Newsroom
Copyright: 2008
Contact: Contact Us -
Website: Law enforcement officials cite confusion over new Mass. marijuana law -
They say the law is confusing and needs to have a "mechanism" but they don't explain. Law enforcement need to adress the ISSUES directly instead of just saying "there are issues with the bill." Well, what the HELL are they!? Lets resolve the issues so the voice of the people can be herd and upheld finally.
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