New Marijuana Law Yet To Present Challenge For Swampscott Police

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Swampscott police have not issued a citation yet under the new law that provides an ounce or less of marijuana is a civil offense.

Police Chief Ronald Madigan said his officers are prepared to issue civil citations for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana in accordance with the new state law, which took effect on Jan. 2.

"We have temporary civil citation forms," he said. "We have the permanent forms on order."

The law states possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is no longer a criminal offense and police will be issuing civil violations instead of arresting violators.

Voters across the state supported the change in the law on the Nov. 4 ballot. In Swampscott 68 percent of voters were in favor, which was higher than the statewide average of 65 percent.

Madigan said Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett met
with police chiefs last week to discuss how to address the new law.
Madigan says the civil violation forms, which will be issued, outline the options available to the violator. Those who want to pay the $100 fine can do so within 21 days by sending payment to the town clerk's office or they have the option of appealing in Lynn District Court within 21 days.

Madigan is quick to point out that possession of an ounce or less of marijuana has been decriminalized but marijuana is still contraband and, according to the state's Executive Office of Public Safety, all laws concerning distributing, selling, manufacturing or trafficking the substance remain intact.

"If there is probable cause to believe a suspect is engaged in distribution or possession with intent to distribute, then police may charge that suspect criminally," he said. "Also unchanged are laws related to driving under the influence of marijuana."

Madigan said he has some concerns about the message the
decriminalization of marijuana is sending.
"Marijuana is widely abused," he said. "It has a severe impact on the lives of a lot of people and we have had a problem with marijuana abuse, particularly among young people. I think the new law sends a bad message especially to young people because they tend to believe marijuana is now legal, which is not the case."

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Author: Debra Glidden
Copyright: 2009 The Daily Item
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Website: New marijuana law yet to present challenge for Swampscott police
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