Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization

Massachusetts marijuana legalization imageMassachusetts Marijuana Legalization from Hemp to Decriminalization to Medical Marijuana

As a California transplant, I have been wondering what came before the Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana, i.e. Massachusetts’ new medical marijuana law.  In this post I will describe what I have been able to find out about the history of marijuana legalization in Massachusetts thus far.

As far back as 1639 the Massachusetts courts forced all families to plant one teaspoon of hemp seeds, so that cloth might eventually be produced from it.  Taxes were paid with hemp cloth almost four hundred years ago.  Yet, as you are probably aware, today’s high cannabinoid content marijuana is not equivalent to hemp.  It has taken decades of  marijuana breeding to make the potent product of the flowering females that exists today.  So how has modern Massachusetts dealt with it?  As further research is conducted, this post will be updated.  As a reader, do not hesitate to post your thought on marijuana legalization.

Starting in the year 2000 legislative districts across Massachusetts have passed thirty non-binding policy questions calling for civil fines for marijuana possession, and not criminal penalties.

The Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative was on the November 4, 2008 Ballot as Question 2.  It passed with over 65% of the vote.  The ballot measure made the following law:

  1. It made it eliminated criminal penalties and made it a civil infraction with a $100.00 fine for possession of under an ounce.  The $100.00 goes into the coffers of the city where the offense happened.
  2. It had no effect on the existing penalties for growing, trafficking and selling cannabis.  Nor did it effect the penalties for driving under the influence of cannabis.
  3. It ended Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) reporting for minor marijuana infractions.
  4. It ended the potential for a $500.00 fine and a six month jail term for those convicted of simple marijuana possession.
  5. It imposed a trade-off by making marijuana penalties tougher on minors, adding the requirement of reporting the offense to the minor’s parent, a drug awareness program, ten hours of community service, and delinquency proceedings if the minor doesn’t comply with these penalties.

The Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative had many supporters, but surprisingly, some law enforcement supported it, including the Brookline Police Department and numerous veterans of Boston PD.

House Bill 2247 in 2007 and Bill 2160 in 2009, the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Act, (having a counterpart in the State Senate) attempted to make medical marijuana available to patients for whom its use was approved by their doctors and certified by the Department of Public Health.  It was never enacted.

In 2011, House Bill 625 was introduced in the Massachusetts legislature.  This bill was similar to the Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana, but vastly more thorough as it had to be.  The Bill was discharged to the Committee on House Rules on October 18, 2012, and then went no further because medical marijuana was passed by the voters three weeks later.

Finally, we come to 2012 and The Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana which is the subject of this website.

Additional research will yield more facts for this article about marijuana legalization in Massachusetts, and it will be updated accordingly.

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