US ac­tivists cel­e­brate new mar­i­juana law

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH -

BOS­TON:

Le­gal-mar­i­juana ac­tivists were in a cel­e­bra­tory mood Thurs­day as a new voter-ap­proved law took ef­fect in Mas­sachusetts, al­low­ing peo­ple 21 and over to pos­sess, grow and use lim­ited amounts of recre­ational pot. It will be at least an­other year be­fore mar­i­juana can be legally sold by li­censed re­tail­ers in the state, and some sup­port­ers of the mea­sure are wary that Mas­sachusetts of­fi­cials might seek changes to the law or de­lay its full im­ple­men­ta­tion over the com­ing months. Po­lice warned of a po­ten­tial spike in peo­ple driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of pot and gen­eral con­fu­sion about what is al­lowed un­der the law.

“Yesterday this would have been a $100 fine,” said Keith Saun­ders, as he held up a jar con­tain­ing what he said was slightly less than an ounce of cannabis flower. Saun­ders, a board mem­ber of the National Or­ga­ni­za­tion for the Re­form of Mar­i­juana Laws, or NORML, gath­ered with other ac­tivists out­side the his­toric Mas­sachusetts State­house to cel­e­brate the law. “Ul­ti­mately, we are mov­ing to­ward tak­ing the ex­ist­ing mar­i­juana mar­ket in Mas­sachusetts and bring­ing it above board,” he said.

Mas­sachusetts is the first US state on the East­ern seaboard where recre­ational mar­i­juana is le­gal, though Maine will soon fol­low if a re­count upholds pas­sage of a bal­lot mea­sure there. Colorado, Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon pre­vi­ously le­gal­ized recre­ational pot and vot­ers in Cal­i­for­nia and Ne­vada also ap­proved bal­lot mea­sures last month.

In Mas­sachusetts, adults can pos­sess up to an ounce of pot out­side the home, up to 10 ounces in­side the home and grow up to a dozen mar­i­juana plants per house­hold. Hav­ing spent nearly three decades cru­sad­ing for re­laxed mar­i­juana rules, Bill Down­ing ad­mit­ted to a mix of sat­is­fac­tion and trep­i­da­tion.

“I am both cel­e­brat­ing and wor­ry­ing that the law might not be im­ple­mented prop­erly,” said Down­ing, mem­ber li­ai­son for the Mas­sachusetts Cannabis Re­form Coali­tion.

The con­cerns stem from pub­lic state­ments by Demo­cratic leg­isla­tive lead­ers and Repub­li­can Gov. Char­lie Baker promis­ing a review and pos­si­ble changes to the law, which passed by a mar­gin of more than 240,000 votes out of nearly 3.8 mil­lion votes cast. The wishes of the vot­ers will be re­spected, pledged Baker, who strongly op­posed le­gal­iza­tion. But he de­fended ef­forts that may lead to re­vi­sions.

“It was a 6,000 word bal­lot ques­tion writ­ten by the recre­ational mar­i­juana in­dus­try for the recre­ational mar­i­juana in­dus­try,” said Baker, who spoke to The As­so­ci­ated Press be­fore re­turn­ing from a trade mis­sion in Is­rael. “So I ex­pect the Leg­is­la­ture will want to deal with things like po­tency, home rule. What are go­ing to be the rules about where you can lo­cate (re­tail) fa­cil­i­ties and what lo­cal con­trol does lo­cal gov­ern­ment have about that?” In a memo sent Wed­nes­day to po­lice de­part­ments in Mas­sachusetts, Sec­re­tary of Pub­lic Safety Daniel Ben­nett said im­ple­men­ta­tion of recre­ational mar­i­juana “will cre­ate a com­plex web of dif­fer­ent rules” that law en­force­ment must nav­i­gate.

“Within cer­tain lim­its, the new law au­tho­rizes some con­duct that had pre­vi­ously been pro­hib­ited. Beyond those lim­its, how­ever, pos­ses­sion, cul­ti­va­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion of mar­i­juana re­main il­le­gal un­der state law,” wrote Ben­nett.

Mar­i­juana ac­tivists dis­missed crit­ics who said le­gal­iza­tion will lead to an ar­ray of so­cial and pub­lic safety prob­lems. “The worst you could is maybe lis­ten to Pink Floyd for two hours rather than one hour,” one man joked Thurs­day as he ser­e­naded sup­port­ers with pro-pot tunes in front of the Capi­tol build­ing. — AP

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