Dozens of Massachusetts cities and towns are taking steps to impose stiff new fines for smoking marijuana in public and to charge some violators with misdemeanors, says the Boston Globe. Critics say those moves subvert the state ballot question passed overwhelmingly last fall to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Police say they want to discourage flagrant marijuana smoking, particularly in public parks, schoolyards, and on beaches where young children gather.
While last year’s ballot initiative reduced possession of an ounce or less from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction carrying a $100 fine, police say that some marijuana smokers mistakenly believe that the voters legalized the drug entirely. “This seems to be much more about people who never liked the law to begin with looking for an end run around the will of the voters,” said Dan Bernath of the Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group that rallied support for the ballot initiative. “And it’s particularly disturbing because they were wrong on this policy. The voters were right.”