New MA Pot Decriminalization Law Called Unenforceable


Massachusetts officially decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana last week, but many police departments were essentially ignoring the voter-passed law, saying they would not even bother to ticket people they see smoking marijuana, the Boston Globe reports. “We’re just basically not enforcing it right now,” said Mark R. Laverdure, chief of police in Clinton, a town of about 8,000 residents, who said the law was so poorly written that it cannot be enforced. “You’ll probably have a lot of officers that, unless there’s a caller complaining about it, won’t even bother with it. They probably handled a lot of it informally before and probably more so now.”

Andrew J. Sluckis Jr., chief of police in Auburn, said his 39 officers would not be issuing $100 citations for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, as required under the ballot initiative known as Question 2. John Collins, general counsel for the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, said he had been fielding calls from dozens of members across the state who believe the law is so flawed that it is “going to become a joke.” The ballot question passed in November with 65 percent of the vote. Backers said they were frustrated that possession of small amounts of marijuana in Massachusetts was a criminal offense, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500. Officers say have no way of determining the identity of people they stop on the street for smoking marijuana. Before the law was changed, officers could arrest them, or threaten them with arrest to force them to show identification. Now, they say they cannot force users to show IDs, and cannot arrest them if they refuse to identify themselves. There is no penalty if a marijuana user gives a false name to a police officer.


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