Despite a brief hiccup, the Governor’s Council has certified the results of the November election, officially paving the way for marijuana to become legal just after midnight.
The new law—which allows use and possession of marijuana for people over 21, and permits people to grow the plant at home—got the nod from the eight-member panel today, bringing an end to fretting on the part of pot activists who worried its start date might be pushed back.
One member of the council, Oxford Selectman Jennifer Caissie, voiced opposition to the law. The Associated Press reports at CBS Boston that she “said she could not in good conscience vote to certify, calling marijuana a ‘gateway’ to heroin.” The council then certified the results, and that of other ballot questions, by voice vote.
“This is a historic day for Massachusetts,” said Jim Borghesani, who was the spokesman of the Yes on 4 campaign. “[W]e urge all residents intending to use or grow marijuana to educate themselves regarding what is and isn’t allowed under the new law.”
Borghesani also argued against tweaking the law, as officials have said they intend to do in 2017. “This law was written with great deliberation and care, and it requires no legislative fixes or revisions. It would be unwise to extend the period where possession is legal but retail sales aren’t in effect. We hope that the Cannabis Control Commission is appointed by the March 1 deadline and that they begin the crucial work of writing the regulations that will control the new industry,” he said.
Also on Wednesday, the governor’s office issued an advisory notice to police departments about how to enforce the law, which will come with a list of new rules to remember. Did you know, for example, that if you have more than an ounce of marijuana at your home (the law allows you to have up to 10) you have to keep it in a safe or you can be fined?
It will also usher in raft of legal gray areas. As the Globe pointed out this week, it’s technically legal to buy marijuana, but not to sell it. The first retail stores won’t open in the state until the beginning of 2018, and perhaps later if lawmakers decide to seek a delay.
And, remember, marijuana is still technically illegal according to federal law, enforcement of which will be left up to the whim of President-elect Donald Trump when he takes office. He has sent mixed signals about pot, and said he supports states’ rights to oversee the drug how they want to, but his administration will be packed with anti-pot voices.
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