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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Changes to the Marijuana Law & FAQ's

On January 2nd, 2009, Massachusetts became the 13th state to decriminalize small quantities (less than one ounce) of marijuana. 'Question 2' did not legalize marijuana possession. Under the new section of MGL 94C, the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, or THC, was changed from a criminal offense to a civil offense making it punishable by civil penalties and forfeiture of the drug. For an adult, the offense is punishable by a $100 civil penalty and forfeiture of the drug. An offender under the age of 18 is subject to the $100 civil penalty and forfeiture of the drug, and that person is also required to complete a drug awareness program within one year of the offense. The money received from the civil offense goes to the community where the offense occurred.
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The law did not change in respect to the distribution of the drug. Possession of any quantity, along with probable cause to believe it was possessed with the intent to distribute, is punishable by arrest, and, if convicted, other criminal penalties, including jail, probation, and/or a fine apply as well.
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Also, a person operating a vehicle who is suspected of being under the influence of marijuana or THC can still be charged with operating under the influence as outlined in MGL c 90 section 24.
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Recently, the City of Springfield created an additional penalty for the public use of marijuana, and many other localities are considering whether to create a similar penalty for public use as well.
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Under Massachusetts law, it is up to each community to decide whether or not, as well as how, to punish nuisances like drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana in public. The Town of Amherst currently has a by-law prohibiting the public consumption of alcohol, but does not address the smoking of marijuana in public.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Marijuana is not a narcotic. Narcotics are derived from the opium poppy. Cocaine is also not a narcotic.

Amherst Police said...

You are correct! I removed the references to marijuana being a narcotic in this posting. Thank you for catching that.
Lt. Jennifer Gundersen

Anonymous said...

So, Mass. has no convictions of Marijuana possesion (Class D) if less than an ounce anymore? Does that mean no more loss of license and State and Federal Student loans?

Amherst Police said...

You are correct that there is no longer a loss of license for the mere possession of under an ounce of marijuana.
Regarding the State and Federal Student loans, I don't know how that will work.

Skelmo5000 said...

I heard from a UMPD officer more recently than this post that the town of Amherst has passed its own marijuana bylaw with a fine of $300. Is this true or just a rumor?

Amherst Police said...

Not true. The fine is $100. Town Meeting did, however, just vote to increase the fines for the Unlawful Noise and Open Container Bylaws. Those will be $300.