Posts filed under ‘OUI’

Montanta Readies for a Step Forward… and a Step Back?

In Montana, two bills are being proposed to change the state medicinal marijuana policy – one for the better, and one for the worse.

House Bill 73 seeks to expand the use of medicinal marijuana by allowing physicians assistants and nurse practitioners to prescribe marijuana. (For comparison, nurse practitioners can currently prescribe the same prescription drugs that a psychiatrist can).

Senate Bill 212 seeks to disqualify permanently from the medicinal marijuana program any person who is found operating a motor vehicle with any trace amount of THC in their bloodstream. This is a completely ridiculous proposal, as trace THC can be found in the bloodstream for days after use, and it does not by any stretch mean that the person is operating while under the influence.

Both bills are being discussed this week, so call your representative and senator and voice your support for House Bill 73 and your opposition to Senate Bill 212. As always, contact information can be fount at www.votesmart.org Here are two short sample scripts:

Dear ________ (name of state representative),

I am calling to voice my support for House Bill 73. Medicinal marijuana is currently available as a prescription medication, and I feel that all professionals licensed to prescribe such medication – including physicians assistants and nurse practitioners – should be allowed to do so. Cannabis has many documented medicinal properties, and as many people as possible should have the option of this form of treatment for their ailments if they need it.

Dear __________ (name of state senator),

I am calling to voice my strong opposition to Senate Bill 212. Operating under the influence is dangerous, but this bill targets any person who has smoked cannabis within the past two weeks, regardless of whether or not they are still under the influence. We do not charge a person with driving under the influence of alcohol or punish them otherwise simply for having consumed alcohol within the last two weeks, and, likewise, we should not punish someone for operating a motor vehicle when they are not under the influence.

Call soon to make sure that your voice is heard.

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January 21, 2009 at 10:06 pm Leave a comment

Massachusetts Decriminalization Takes Effect Today

Today is the day that possession of less than an ounce is decriminalized in Massachusetts. From today, possession will no longer be a criminal offense and will be punished by a $100 civil violation and confiscation of the contraband.

However, there are some things to keep in mind. Lynda M. Connolly, the Chief Justice, issued a pamphlet about the new law.

Here are some basics:

In some districts, the police are threatening not to enforce the new law altogether. They may run into some issues in court when it is revealed that they are arresting citizens for a non-criminal offense (imagine trying to handcuff someone for rolling a stop sign or forgetting to feed the meter). Still you may be best avoiding the situation altogether.

Some towns are passing bylaws making public smoking of marijuana a misdemeanor criminal offense. Because these laws vary from town, it is hard to make a blanket statement about all of them, but it is possible that some could be worded badly enough that they apply to possession in public as well. Thus, it would be advisable not to walk down the street with a dime bag in your hands.

And, keep in mind – while marijuana has been decriminalized, it has not been legalized. $100 tickets could start to add up, and while they will not create a criminal record, they nevertheless do create a viewable record. If your job (or a job you aspire to have) forbids drug use, you would be best avoiding the fine altogether.

Before, police enforced the marijuana possession law weakly. Now, as evidenced on MassCops, they will be much stricter. Be smart – lighting up a joint in the middle of the Commons (or even a back alley) is probably not a good idea.

Also, the only law that has been changed is the one regarding possession of less than an ounce. Other violations, such as possession of more than an ounce, purchase, sale, and intent to distribute, are all still criminal offenses, and the police are likely to be more strict about those offenses with this new law. Dividing up half an ounce into two or more bags could be considered intent to distribute. It would be advisable not to risk the criminal offense – don’t divide up your stash into multiple parts. And passing a joint back and forth could be considered distribution, rather than simply possession.

In other words: While the penalties for possession have decreased, the risk of heavier charges instead of possession has increased. Use the same precautions under the new law that you used under the old law.

Lastly, OUIs are still criminal offenses. Not to mention that they are dangerous. Do not take the new law as an opportunity to drive while stoned. Officers no doubt will try and charge people with OUI instead of possession even when a driver is sober. Don’t make it any easier for them.

We worked hard to decriminalize marijuana in Massachusetts on the grounds that most marijuana users are safe and responsible. This is our chance to prove that we were right – let’s make the most of it.

Remember, Legal.Now does not encourage criminal activity. (Thankfully, though, possession is no longer a criminal activity in Massachusetts!) On a serious note, though, this post is not meant to encourage readers to smoke marijuana simply because of the change in law. Rather, it is meant as a bit of guidance as to what the changes in the law mean.

January 2, 2009 at 4:02 am Leave a comment


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