On November 12, a Wednesday, voters in the state of Massachusetts will decide on an issue which has rustled state and federal officials since the inception of banning on marijuana as a plant, and its active alkaloid compounds altogether. This is issue is the decision of whether possession (by an adult) of small amounts of marijuana (less than one ounce, 28 grams) should be punished with criminal or less severe civil offenses.
As a north shore Massachusetts resident, I feel that this could quite possibly become the most important ballot issue that has graced a Massachusetts election in many years. Living in a large industrialized city, it isn’t terribly difficult to observe the side effects that marijuana arrests have on the local population. One does not necessarily need to be employed as a rocket propulsion scientist to understand that the less time, effort and money local law enforcement agencies waste on small petty marijuana arrests the more time, effort and money is available for more important endeavors. Such activities could include narcotics distribution, street gang activity, organized crime, homicide, kidnapping, robbery, fraud… just to name a few.
Question two on the Massachusetts 2008 ballot would effectively end petty arrests for simple possession of small amounts of marijuana in the bay state. Under this proposal, any person searched by police officials and found to be in possession of one ounce of marijuana and marijuana product (28 grams) would simply have the marijuana confiscated and be then issued a $100 civil offense ticket. This is the same ticket system used to punish traffic violations such as speeding or failure to yield, stop at a stop sign etc.
Massachusetts would not, in fact, be the first state to pass legislature to decriminalize simple possession of the forbidden herb. Nope, we would actually be one of the later people to show up at that party. Who’s been there since the 1970’s? Why, just Alaska, Colorado, California, Nebraska, New York, Minnesota, North Carolina, Maine, Ohio, and Oregon. That’s right, ten states have already done it, and all nearly thirty years ago at that (Nebraska, the last in 1979).
Why has Massachusetts has taken so long to put this particular piece of legislature up for vote is beyond any measure of logical conclusion. Wake up Massachusetts, and maybe medical marijuana will be able to find its way to some of those chronic disease sufferers in the Bay State, some of whom are in desperate need and deserve a more natural alternative to morphine codeine-derived; pain medications