As many of you already know, there is a ballot measure on the docket to legalize the use of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts at this year’s election. But should Question 4 pass, what does that actually mean for residents who wish to invoke their right to smoke up?
Technically, if the bill passes, MA residents 21 and older can legally purchase, possess and use as they see fit, up to an ounce of marijuana without fear of arrest as of December 15. Giving away or transferring up to one once of pot will also be legal as long as the transfer isn’t advertised or promoted to the public.
Now, here comes the weird part: Massachusetts will have no legal route for purchasing marijuana for recreational use until January 1, 2018. So should the ballot question pass, the MA marijuana market will exist in a strange legal limbo for the next 12½ months.
You could buy weed from the black market legally, but the dealers selling it to you would be at risk of prosecution. A random guy in an alley could generously gift you some weed, but it would be illegal for you to give him money – or any other compensation – in return.
Another aspect of Question 4 would allow for marijuana to be grown at a rate of up to 12 plants per household for personal use. However, there will be no legal mechanism for purchasing the seedlings necessary to grow those plant until 2018.
Jim Borghesani, a spokesman for YES on 4 spoke to The Boston Globe regarding these strange inconsistencies.
“If we could change the system overnight we would, but reality dictates that there’s going to be this transition period. We think the benefits far outweigh these temporary costs.”
Apparently Colorado consumers experienced the same Catch-22 after marijuana became legal in December 2012. The first retail marijuana stores did not open until January 2014.
Massachusetts decriminalized marijuana possession in 2008, but it is still illegal to purchase the drug or be caught using it. If caught with less than an ounce of pot, users could not be prosecuted, but anything more could be considered intent to sell, which remained illegal.
If Question 4 were to pass it would create a legal marketplace and hopefully put an end to the need for a black market. Legalization would also allow the state to tax marijuana sales, bringing in a welcome and lucrative source of fresh revenue. The economy would also flourish thanks to the countless marijuana entrepreneurs who are sure to bring new business opportunities to the state.
What do you think about Question 4 and its implications? Which way will you be voting come November 8?