Massachusetts Officials Try to Circumvent New Law

December 31, 2008 at 5:34 pm Leave a comment

In just two days, Question 2, which decriminalizes possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in Massachusetts, takes effect. Under the new law, the violation is a ticketable, but not arrestable, offense. Police may fine offenders $100 and confiscate the marijuana, but offenders face no criminal record and no jail time.

Already, officials are trying to circumvent the new law, and the latest proposal notes that the new law allows for additional town bylaws. State officials are encouraging towns to pass bylaws to outlaw smoking marijuana in public. The problem? They are considering making this a misdemeanor offense, effectively recriminalizing the substance that 65% of the state – and every town except three – voted to decriminalize. 
NECN has decent coverage of the story.
What they fail to mention is that, depending on how the new bylaws are worded, police may be able to arrest people for possession in public places, arguing that the offender is possessing the drug in public, even if he or she is not smoking.
If your city or town is considering passing such a law, write to your local officials urging them not to recriminalize posession. In your letter, be sure to mention:
1. The percent of voters in your town that supported Question 2.
2. That public smoking, if even punishable, should not be considered a criminal offense.
3. That the fines for criminal offenses are paid to the state, whereas the fines for a civil offense are paid to the town. (This means that, if towns pass bylaws recriminalizing possession, they are robbing themselves of the revenue from fines).

Entry filed under: criminal record, decriminalize, Massachusetts, Question 2.

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