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Massachusetts First State to Decriminalize Marijuana

Anjuli Verma,
Drug Law Reform Project
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November 4, 2008

Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly (65 percent pro, 35 percent con) passed Question 2 today, which decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana — putting penalties on par with receiving a traffic ticket. The new law replaces criminal penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana with a new system of civil penalties, removing the threat of jail time and excluding information regarding this offense from the state’s criminal record system. The maximum punishment under the new law is forfeiture of the marijuana plus a civil penalty of $100.

Although public opinion across the country increasingly supports the idea of rethinking harsh criminal justice responses to marijuana possession, Massachusetts is the first state in the country to pass such a sweeping reform by popular vote.

Let’s hope that Massachusetts’ bold reform will pave the way for other states to adopt this common sense approach.