Potholes in the law

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Question 2, which called for the decriminalization of possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, was passed by voters in November and became law with the dawning of the new year. In becoming law, the referendum question's holes went from theoretical to real. As was reported in Conor Berry's story of January 3, town and city police departments across the county and state must establish their own policies for enforcing the new law in conjunction with local courts, a cumbersome process that will create a hodge-podge of regulations. Police officers must also make a judgment call on whether or not someone is in possession of an ounce of marijuana, unless they are hauling a portable scale around with them.

With marijuana possession now a civil offense in Massachusetts, those cited are not required to provide identification to police officers. Without ID, of course, officers have no way of knowing if an offender tossed the $100 citation in the trash, and there is also no way of notifying parents when a minor is found in possession, as required by the law.

Question 2 is now the law, but for the law to work, uniform regulations are needed and requiring identification should be mandatory. Lawmakers must add this to their list of headaches in 2009.

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