Since recreational marijuana use was decriminalized in Massachusetts last year, pot-related trafficking and violence have escalated across the state, reports the Boston Herald. The newspaper details several recent high-profile killings that have been linked by law enforcement to pot. Smoking weed is not a victimless crime, say law enforcement officials. “We knew it was going to be a nightmare for public safety and law enforcement. An ounce of marijuana can make a thousand joints,” Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone Jr. said. ” [The pot-decriminalization ballot issue] perpetuated a feeling that marijuana is somehow safer than other drugs. It's another mind-altering substance. What are we doing in this country? Can't anyone get through the day without a drink or a drug?”
In November 2008, by nearly 2 to 1, Massachusetts voters opted to snuff out the threat of jail time for possession of an ounce or less of cannabis in favor of a $100 civil fine. The law, however, provides no enforcement mechanism for police to collect the money. Stiffer penalties for buying or selling the drug, or possessing more than an ounce, remain in place. “Marijuana trafficking is no different from the wholesale distribution of any illicit substance. It's accompanied by guns and violence in the short term and it floods communities with illegal drugs in the long term. It threatens public safety and public health,” said Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley. His open trafficking cases – dealing in 50 pounds of pot or more – have hit a historic high since the passage of Question 2 by doubling from roughly two prosecutions at any one time to four.