Pot Law Will Go Into Effect on Schedule

Pot Law Will Go Into Effect on Schedule
Posted by CN Staff on December 30, 2008 at 18:21:10 PT
By David Kibbe
Source: Cape Cod Times 
Boston, MA -- A voter-approved law to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana goes into effect Friday, despite protests from law enforcement officials who say they need more time and guidance from the state.The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security issued guidelines on the new law yesterday, less than two months after 65 percent of voters approved the measure in a statewide referendum.
On Friday, the law will make possession of one ounce or less of marijuana a civil offense, subject to a $100 fine like a traffic ticket. Offenders under 18 will be required to attend a drug awareness program or pay a $1,000 fine.Possession of small amounts of marijuana has been a criminal offense in Massachusetts, punishable by a $500 fine and up to six months in jail.Public Safety Secretary Kevin Burke said the guidelines answer many questions that have been raised by police and prosecutors in the past eight weeks."It's going to go into effect Jan. 2, no matter what," Burke said. "I think these guidelines alleviate many of the concerns expressed by various stakeholders who would have some enforcement or review of the law."A sampling of the guidelines: Police departments can still discipline their own officers for possession and use of marijuana; small amounts of marijuana will no longer be sent to the crime labs for testing; and police can still conduct searches and vehicle stops of individuals if there is probable cause.The guidelines say criminal penalties for selling marijuana remain unchanged. Burke's office concluded that the law may also decriminalize small amounts of hashish, a potent form of marijuana.And Burke is advising cities and towns to enact ordinances banning the public use of marijuana. The ballot question permits such a prohibition.In a separate advisory opinion, state education Commissioner Mitchell Chester said schools will still have the power to discipline students who possess small amounts of marijuana on school grounds, including suspension or expulsion.Gov. Deval Patrick, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and police chiefs and district attorneys strongly opposed Question 2 on November's ballot, saying it promoted drug use. The Patrick administration declined a request by prosecutors to delay the law past Jan. 2.Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe said the last-minute guidelines don't do enough. O'Keefe recently finished his term as president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association and was a vocal opponent of the ballot question."I'm hearing from police departments that they have no citation books," O'Keefe said. "They don't really understand this law " We expected the governor to file for an extension to properly vet all of the issues that were involved. He has decided not to do that."O'Keefe believed the proponents of the ballot question intended to make it difficult to enforce. Prosecutors say people could claim they aren't carrying marijuana if it's not being tested at the state lab, or they could give a false name if they are stopped on foot. The state's drug education program for young offenders also isn't ready."This essentially is kind of unfortunate evidence of what we had been arguing during the campaign, that this is the de facto legalization of under one ounce of marijuana," O'Keefe said.The Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy spent $1.2 million on the law's passage, including $400,000 from billionaire activist George Soros of New York City.Whitney Taylor, a spokeswoman for the committee, said it would save police time and money, while making sure young people didn't pay for one mistake with a lifelong criminal record.She said the district attorneys "are still campaigning."Eleven other states have passed similar laws decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana."There's no reason there should be a delay at all," Taylor said. "Almost every municipality has a municipal citation booklet " everything from dogs off the leash and other types of citations."Burke said the state didn't have much time to prepare, but he said police departments should be able to quickly print up citations, "especially in this day of desktop computers." The Department of Youth Services and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services are creating a drug education program to comply with the law, but they lack funding. Burke said the program would be up and running "as quickly as they can put it together."Rep. Jeffrey Davis Perry, R-Sandwich, the ranking Republican House member on the Public Safety and Security Committee, opposed the ballot question."It's disappointing that the governor's office, the secretary, couldn't have come out with a more comprehensive and prompt set of regulations and suggestions on how the DAs and police should handle this," said Perry, a former Wareham police officer. "Obviously, the police officers, the ones on the streets and the chiefs are the ones that are being put in a tough spot here."Burke didn't foresee making recommendations to the Legislature until the state saw how the law was working.He said the state closely observes "any new law, this law especially. We will continue to work with police departments."Source: Cape Cod Times (MA)Author: David KibbePublished: December 30, 2008Copyright: 2008 Cape Cod TimesContact: Articles:Joint Move To Target Public Pot Smoking Cuts Through Haze of Marijuana Law
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Comment #2 posted by GeoChemist on December 31, 2008 at 04:13:25 PT:
Off topic
Hi everyone,
I know this is off topic but I wanted those of you interested to take a look at this one. I have no idea where to go with this. The U.S. attoeney for this district was appointed under Ashcroft and prosecuted Chong over what amounted to nothing more than a piece of glass. I wonder what that cost the taxpayers? Anyway, I have references if anyone is interested. ThanksWhen Police Cross the Line…
Punishment Should be Swift, Severe   How often does an unnecessary high-speed chase turn tragic for innocent persons? I remember an incident a few years ago when the police initiated a high-speed chase because the driver would not pull over, a crash followed in which two innocent people were killed. The reason the suspect fled: to avoid a ticket. This is not often the case; usually those who flee have something to hide, still hardly a reason to put innocent lives in danger. Do not get me wrong, sometimes high speed chases are indeed necessary, especially when the benefits out weigh the risks, an individual deemed dangerous such as weapon-yielding robber for example. This is simple really, when a person attempts to flee (other than a violent suspect), the officer(s) need only get a license plate number and handle matters accordingly. If on the other hand the officer(s) choose to initiate a chase and innocent people are maimed or killed the officer(s) should be held responsible, more so than the individual fleeing. The punishment should be severe for these senseless chases that result in the loss of innocent lives, severe to the point of capital punishment.  This renegade bullshit by these so-called professionals has to stop.   On November 19, 2008 at 6:03 AM a raid on a drug warrant was conducted by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in Indiana Township; Allegheny County, Pennsylvania at the home of Robert and Christina Korbe. Upon entry of the residence by law enforcement, a single gunshot rang out striking and killing FBI Special Agent Samuel Hicks. The shot was fired by Christina Korbe from the top of the stairs; she explained she thought “an intruder was breaking in” and “she was protecting her children” ages 10 and 4. Mrs. Korbe claims it was a no-knock warrant, but law enforcement state otherwise. The subject of the warrant, Robert Korbe attempted to flee out a backdoor but was apprehended.  Regardless of the he said, she said of the knock, no-knock this senseless tragedy could and should have been prevented. 
   Robert Korbe was scheduled to be in court at the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas for a formal arraignment the following day on separate, unrelated charges including aggravated assault (docket number: CP-02-CR-0012403-2008). Call me crazy but would not it have been much safer and easier to apprehend Mr. Korbe at his scheduled arraignment and then conduct the search of the Korbe residence with no one at home? Law enforcement knew exactly where and when Mr. Korbe would be on November 20, 2008; room 519, Allegheny County Courthouse, 9:00 AM. To deny knowledge of this information would show great incompetence on the part of the investigators, incompetence to the point of being criminal. Instead, law enforcement wants to exercise its muscle, especially when it comes to the farce that is the drug war; they love to pound their chests like delusional, self-described heroes or saviors.    Make no mistake about it, in general I have no respect for law enforcement officials; however there are some people, some good people I personally know that have made a career in this field that I do respect, my father for example. However, most people who become members of law enforcement have short comings, inferiority complexes if you will, they are trying to cope with and the power of law enforcement is their elixir.   No one, including the media, is questioning law enforcement or demanding accountability about the facts listed above. I feel law enforcement is using the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding this. It is now being reported the raid was part of a large-scale drug sweep, though nothing about any other raids were reported as is always the case when large-scale sweeps are conducted. If this was indeed the case, then why not delay the raids for a day? If on the other hand the raids had to be conducted on November 19 then why not exclude Korbe and apprehend him the following day? I don’t want to hear any excuses about Mr. Korbe being tipped-off, thus destroying what evidence he had. Apparently there was enough damning evidence against Mr. Korbe to gain a federal warrant for his arrest on drug trafficking charges so anything found in the residence would be extra evidence if you will.    I did not know Special Agent Hicks nor do I know his family, but what I do know is a wife will never see her husband again and a son will never know his father all because of the failed drug war, archaic laws that do not work, and of course the drug crusaders. The law enforcement official(s) that orchestrated this raid should, without a doubt be indicted for murder and the agency for which they worked should be held liable for negligent supervision. The “rah-rah” drug crusaders are DIRECTLY responsible for the death of Special Agent Hicks. 
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Comment #1 posted by Storm Crow on December 31, 2008 at 03:52:23 PT
A snip from a very long article.........
While checking out the news, I found this little gem! It seems others are beginning to notice the "moral character" of the prohibitionists! It's so nice to see it in print!They only made the "runners up" category in one of those "end of the year" articles- this one dealt with the "most dubious" stories and people of 2008. It's a REALLY LONG article and if you want to read the whole thing, you got the link. So here's the snip from the story- Call them the straight dope twistersA close runner-up to MiCAUSE in the race to the bottom of the campaign trough was the coalition that came together in opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Michigan. As activist Bruce Mirken noted in a blog, one TV spot sponsored by the so-called Citizens Protecting Michigan's Kids was "so egregiously dishonest that even my very jaded jaw dropped when I saw it. It may set an all-time record for the most lies ever packed into a 30-second commercial." Joining in the condemnation of deceitful tactics employed by opponents of the proposal was former state Rep. Dianne Byrum, who headed up the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care. Particularly galling was a stunt pulled by John Waters, the Michigan native appointed our nation's drug czar by that well-known expert on illicit drugs, President George Bush. At taxpayer expense, Waters journeyed to his home state towing a marijuana vending machine seized in California. The only problem with Waters' prop was that the proposed Michigan law, as one columnist pointed out, "does not permit dispensaries, much less vending machines." Byrum called the whole effort a "desperate campaign of lies and outrageous distortions." Fortunately voters saw through the toxic smokescreen and approved the use of weed for medical purposes.Ain't it grand when the truth comes out? LOL
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