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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Police prepare for changes in marijuana possession laws

Local law enforcement officials are still in a haze about Question 2 as it winds its way through the bureaucratic process.

There are a number of logistical issues that stand between the ballot initiative that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana and the enforcement of the new policy throughout the commonwealth. In the meantime, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is still a criminal offense, even though some districts are suspending their pursuit of such cases.

Wareham police aren’t changing their approach to criminal possession yet.

“I’m waiting to see logistically how it will be implemented,” Lt. Irving Wallace said.

Wallace suspected that it would be handled like any other bylaw or civil infraction, with the officer just issuing a ticket to the offender and someone following up to make sure the ticket was paid.

The Wareham lieutenant was also concerned about how officers would have to determine how much marijuana someone had on them. While most officers could eyeball either a very small or very large amount of marijuana it’s more difficult when it is just under or just over an ounce since most police cruisers don’t come equipped with a scale.

Law enforcement officials like State Attorney General Martha Coakley and Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz spoke out strongly against the ballot measure when it was first proposed. They cited correlations between reported marijuana use and incidents of juvenile crime, as well as the fact that marijuana available today is allegedly nine times as potent as it was 30 years ago. [Mark Godsey]

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