By Brittany Somerset, Intrepid Reporter.
It was a NORML day in the new year, when in a major step towards repealing marijuana prohibition in the United States, Massachusetts decriminalized marijuana, hash and THC, as of January 2nd, 2009.
The Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative, also known as Massachusetts Ballot Question 2, was an initiated state statute, i.e., a new law that a state adopts via the initiative process, that replaces current criminal penalties with civil penalties on adults possessing an ounce or less of marijuana. The Question 2 initiative appeared on the November 4, 2008 ballot in Massachusetts. Question 3, the initiative to ban greyhound professional dog racing, was also approved on the same ballot.
These citizen-initiated ballot questions, which were placed on the November ballot by collecting signatures from the public, are now newly enacted state laws. In laymen’s terms, the people of Massachusetts, a state rich in revolutionary history, stood up for their right to not be treated as criminal offenders for puffing the la and they won. Marijuana users caught in the act, or with pot in their pockets, will not be treated as criminals; although, they will be subjected to citations and fines of $100.
As of right now, a person smoking a joint on a sidewalk in Somerset, can not be issued a summons, the way a person drinking a beer would; although government and police officials made it clear that wouldn’t last long as they will immediately seek to ban cannabis use from public areas, especially where children congregate.
Had Question 2 passed last year, High Times Associate Publisher Rick Cusick and NORML founder Keith Stroup, would never have been arrested for sharing a joint at the Boston Freedom Rally. This year’s rally will no doubt have people lighting up en masse, which will send a message to the 49 other states in the union, where pot is still prohibited, that smoking an L is fine, in 2009.