Saturday, August 12, 2017

Driving stoned or drunk.. which one is worse?

From the Washingtonpost:

Please use the URL to get to the 2015 study. It's a download from NHTSA.gov site

A new study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that drivers who use marijuana are at a significantly lower risk for a crash than drivers who use alcohol. And after adjusting for age, gender, race and alcohol use, drivers who tested positive for marijuana  were no more likely to crash than who had not used any drugs or alcohol prior to driving.

 
The chart above tells the story. For marijuana, and for a number of other legal and illegal drugs including antidepressants, painkillers, stimulants and the like, there is no statistically significant change in the risk of a crash associated with using that drug prior to driving. But overall alcohol use, measured at a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold of 0.05 or above, increases your odds of a wreck nearly seven-fold.
The study's findings underscore an important point: that the measurable presence of THC (marijuana's primary active ingredient) in a person's system doesn't correlate with impairment in the same way that blood alcohol concentration does. The NHTSA doesn't mince words: "At the current time, specific drug concentration levels cannot be reliably equated with a specific degree of driver impairment."

There are a whole host of factors why detectable drug presence doesn't indicate impairment the way it does with alcohol. "Most psychoactive drugs are chemically complex molecules, whose absorption, action, and elimination from the body are difficult to predict," the report authors write, "and considerable differences exist between individuals with regard to the rates with which these processes occur. Alcohol, in comparison, is more predictable." In heavy marijuana users, measurable amounts of THC can be detectable in the body days or even weeks after the last use, and long after any psychoactive effects remain.
Several states have passed laws attempting to define "marijuana-impaired driving" similarly to drunk driving. Colorado, for instance, sets a blood THC threshold of 5 nanograms per milliliter. But that number tells us next to nothing about whether a person is impaired or fit to drive. The implication is that these states are locking up people who are perfectly sober.
A companion study released by the NHTSA identified a sharp jump in the number of weekend night-time drivers testing positive for THC between 2007 and 2013/2014, from 8.6 percent to 12.6 percent. Numbers like these are alarming at first glance. They generate plenty of thoughtless media coverage. They're used by marijuana legalization opponents to conjure up the bogeyman of legions of stoned drivers menacing the nation's roads.
But all these numbers really tell us is that more people are using marijuana at some point in the days or weeks before they drive. With legalization fully underway in several states, there's nothing surprising about this. "The change in use may reflect the emergence of a new trend in the country that warrants monitoring," the NHTSA study concludes.
So, should we all assume that we're safe to blaze one and go for a joyride whenever the whimsy strikes us? Absolutely not. There's plenty of evidence showing that marijuana use impairs key driving skills. If you get really stoned and then get behind the wheel, you're asking for trouble.
What we do need, however, are better roadside mechanisms for detecting marijuana-related impairment. Several companies are developing pot breathalyzers for this purpose.
We also need a lot more research into the effects of marijuana use on driving ability, particularly to get a better sense of how pot's effect on driving diminishes in the hours after using. But this kind of research remains incredibly difficult to do, primarily because the federal government still classifies weed as a Schedule 1 substance, as dangerous as heroin.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

THE TWO MOST IMPORTANT SECTIONS OF MASSACHUSETTS’ MARIJUANA LAW

From our old friend Steve Epstein
Please take a moment to read the law.. if you have anything to do with marijuana, buying, selling, giving away, growing or making edibles.

Introduction
Untouched by the legislature's changes concerning commerce in cannabis, of most concern to those engaging in #OverGrowandShare are now codified in G.L. c. 94G, Section 7 Personal use of marijuana. The legislature did add (h) and (i) to Section 13 Penalties. (Reprinted Below).
As you will note when you get to Section 13, the violations described are CIVIL, thus the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court in Commonwealth v. Cruz, 459 Mass. 459 (2011) http://masscases.com/cases/sjc/459/459mass459.html decided on Patriots' Day, 2011 govern what police may do to investigate these civil violations. At the end of this post I provide links to post Cruz cases that provide guidance, if they do not control, the post Q4 privileges we no enjoy.*
Police will not be able to search your home or yard because they cannot get a search warrant to do so absent probable cause of criminal conduct. IF THEY DO NOT HAVE A WARRANT THE GENERAL RULE IS THEY CANNOT ENTER.
One exception often involves vehicles, but again, because the vehicle related offenses are not criminal they are only empowered to seize what they see, issue a citation and let you free.
Section 7. Personal use of marijuana
(a) Notwithstanding any other general or special law to the contrary, except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a person 21 years of age or older shall not be arrested, prosecuted, penalized, sanctioned or disqualified under the laws of the commonwealth in any manner, or denied any right or privilege and shall not be subject to seizure or forfeiture of assets for:
(1) possessing, using, purchasing, processing or manufacturing 1 ounce or less of marijuana, except that not more than 5 grams of marijuana may be in the form of marijuana concentrate;
(2) within the person's primary residence, possessing up to 10 ounces of marijuana and any marijuana produced by marijuana plants cultivated on the premises and possessing, cultivating or processing not more than 6 marijuana plants for personal use so long as not more than 12 plants are cultivated on the premises at once;
(3) assisting another person who is 21 years of age or older in any of the acts described in this section; or
(4) giving away or otherwise transferring without remuneration up to 1 ounce of marijuana, except that not more than 5 grams of marijuana may be in the form of marijuana concentrate, to a person 21 years of age or older, as long as the transfer is not advertised or promoted to the public.
(b) Notwithstanding any other general or special law to the contrary, except as otherwise provided in this chapter, if the import or export of marijuana to or from the commonwealth is not prohibited by federal law, a person 21 years of age or older shall not be arrested, prosecuted, penalized, sanctioned or disqualified under the laws of the commonwealth in any manner, or denied any right or privilege and shall not be subject to seizure or forfeiture of assets for possessing, using, purchasing, cultivating, processing or manufacturing any amount of marijuana or marijuana products for personal use.
(c) Notwithstanding any other general or special law to the contrary, except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a person shall not be arrested, prosecuted, penalized, sanctioned or otherwise denied any benefit and shall not be subject to seizure or forfeiture of assets for allowing property the person owns, occupies or manages to be used for any of the activities conducted lawfully under this chapter or for enrolling or employing a person who engages in marijuana-related activities lawfully under this chapter.
(d) Absent clear, convincing and articulable evidence that the person's actions related to marijuana have created an unreasonable danger to the safety of a minor child, neither the presence of cannabinoid components or metabolites in a person's bodily fluids nor conduct permitted under this chapter related to the possession, consumption, transfer, cultivation, manufacture or sale of marijuana, marijuana products or marijuana accessories by a person charged with the well-being of a child shall form the sole or primary basis for substantiation, service plans, removal or termination or for denial of custody, visitation or any other parental right or responsibility.
(e) The use of marijuana shall not disqualify a person from any needed medical procedure or treatment, including organ and tissue transplants.
(f) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a person 21 years of age or older shall not be arrested, prosecuted, penalized, sanctioned or disqualified and is not subject to seizure or forfeiture of assets for possessing, producing, processing, manufacturing, purchasing, obtaining, selling or otherwise transferring or delivering hemp.
(g) For the purposes of this section, "marijuana concentrate'' shall mean the resin extracted from any part of the plant of the genus Cannabis and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of that resin but shall not include the weight of any other ingredient combined with marijuana to prepare marijuana products.
Section 13. Penalties
(a) Restrictions on personal cultivation. No person shall cultivate or process marijuana plants pursuant to section 8 of this chapter if the plants are visible from a public place without the use of binoculars, aircraft or other optical aids or cultivate or process marijuana plants outside of an area that is equipped with a lock or other security device. A person who violates this subsection shall be punished by a civil penalty of not more than $300 and forfeiture of the marijuana, but shall not be subject to any other form of criminal or civil punishment or disqualification solely for this conduct.
(b) Restrictions on personal possession. No person shall possess more than 1 ounce of marijuana or marijuana products within the person's place of residence pursuant to section 8 of this chapter unless the marijuana and marijuana products are secured by a lock. A person who violates this subsection shall be punished by a civil penalty of not more than $100 and forfeiture of the marijuana.
(c) Restrictions on public consumption of marijuana. No person shall consume marijuana in a public place or smoke marijuana where smoking tobacco is prohibited. A person who violates this subsection shall be punished by a civil penalty of not more than $100. This subsection shall not apply to a person who consumes marijuana or marijuana products in a designated area of a marijuana establishment located in a city or town that has voted to allow consumption on the premises where sold and shall not be construed to limit the medical use of marijuana.
(d) Possession of marijuana in motor vehicles. No person shall, upon any way or in any place to which the public has a right of access, or upon any way or in any place to which members of the public have access as invitees or licensees, possess an open container of marijuana or marijuana products in the passenger area of any motor vehicle. A person who violates this subjection shall be punished by a civil penalty of not more than $500. For purposes of this section, "open container'' shall mean that the package containing marijuana or marijuana products has its seal broken or from which the contents have been partially removed or consumed and "passenger area'' shall mean the area designed to seat the driver and passengers while the motor vehicle is in operation and any area that is readily accessible to the driver or passenger while in a seated position; provided however that the passenger area shall not include a motor vehicle's trunk, locked glove compartment or the living quarters of a house coach or house trailer, or if a motor vehicle is not equipped with a trunk, the area behind the last upright seat or an area not normally occupied by the driver or passenger.
(e) Possession or cultivation of excess marijuana. Notwithstanding chapter 94C of the General Laws and until the import or export of marijuana to or from the commonwealth is not prohibited by federal law, a person who is at least 21 years of age and who cultivates more than 6 but not more than 12 marijuana plants or who possesses an amount of marijuana outside of his or her place of residence having a weight of more than 1 ounce but not more than 2 ounces shall be subject only to a civil penalty of not more than $100 and forfeiture of the marijuana not allowed by section 8 of this chapter, but shall not be subject to any other form of criminal or civil punishment or disqualification solely for this conduct.
(f) Procurement of marijuana by a person under 21 years of age. A person under 21 years of age, except a qualifying patient holding a valid registration card for the medical use of marijuana, who purchases or attempts to purchase marijuana, marijuana products or marijuana accessories, or makes arrangements with any person to purchase or in any way procure marijuana, marijuana products or marijuana accessories, or who willfully misrepresents such person's age, or in any way alters, defaces or otherwise falsifies identification offered as proof of age, with the intent of purchasing marijuana, marijuana products or marijuana accessories, shall be punished by a civil penalty of not more than $100 and shall complete a drug awareness program established pursuant to section 32M of chapter 94C of the General Laws. The parents or legal guardian of any offender under the age of 18 shall be notified in accordance with section 32N of chapter 94C of the General Laws and the failure within 1 year of the offense of such an offender to complete a drug awareness program may be a basis for delinquency proceedings for persons under the age of 17 at the time of the person's offense.
(g) Enforcement. Civil penalties imposed pursuant to this section shall be enforced by utilizing the non-criminal disposition procedures provided in section 32N of chapter 94C of the General Laws.
Section 13. Penalties
(a) Restrictions on personal cultivation. No person shall cultivate or process marijuana plants pursuant to section 8 of this chapter if the plants are visible from a public place without the use of binoculars, aircraft or other optical aids or cultivate or process marijuana plants outside of an area that is equipped with a lock or other security device. A person who violates this subsection shall be punished by a civil penalty of not more than $300 and forfeiture of the marijuana, but shall not be subject to any other form of criminal or civil punishment or disqualification solely for this conduct.
(b) Restrictions on personal possession. No person shall possess more than 1 ounce of marijuana or marijuana products within the person's place of residence pursuant to section 8 of this chapter unless the marijuana and marijuana products are secured by a lock. A person who violates this subsection shall be punished by a civil penalty of not more than $100 and forfeiture of the marijuana.
(c) Restrictions on public consumption of marijuana. No person shall consume marijuana in a public place or smoke marijuana where smoking tobacco is prohibited. A person who violates this subsection shall be punished by a civil penalty of not more than $100. This subsection shall not apply to a person who consumes marijuana or marijuana products in a designated area of a marijuana establishment located in a city or town that has voted to allow consumption on the premises where sold and shall not be construed to limit the medical use of marijuana.
(d) Possession of marijuana in motor vehicles. No person shall, upon any way or in any place to which the public has a right of access, or upon any way or in any place to which members of the public have access as invitees or licensees, possess an open container of marijuana or marijuana products in the passenger area of any motor vehicle. A person who violates this subjection shall be punished by a civil penalty of not more than $500. For purposes of this section, "open container'' shall mean that the package containing marijuana or marijuana products has its seal broken or from which the contents have been partially removed or consumed and "passenger area'' shall mean the area designed to seat the driver and passengers while the motor vehicle is in operation and any area that is readily accessible to the driver or passenger while in a seated position; provided however that the passenger area shall not include a motor vehicle's trunk, locked glove compartment or the living quarters of a house coach or house trailer, or if a motor vehicle is not equipped with a trunk, the area behind the last upright seat or an area not normally occupied by the driver or passenger.
(e) Possession or cultivation of excess marijuana. Notwithstanding chapter 94C of the General Laws and until the import or export of marijuana to or from the commonwealth is not prohibited by federal law, a person who is at least 21 years of age and who cultivates more than 6 but not more than 12 marijuana plants or who possesses an amount of marijuana outside of his or her place of residence having a weight of more than 1 ounce but not more than 2 ounces shall be subject only to a civil penalty of not more than $100 and forfeiture of the marijuana not allowed by section 8 of this chapter, but shall not be subject to any other form of criminal or civil punishment or disqualification solely for this conduct.
(f) Procurement of marijuana by a person under 21 years of age. A person under 21 years of age, except a qualifying patient holding a valid registration card for the medical use of marijuana, who purchases or attempts to purchase marijuana, marijuana products or marijuana accessories, or makes arrangements with any person to purchase or in any way procure marijuana, marijuana products or marijuana accessories, or who willfully misrepresents such person's age, or in any way alters, defaces or otherwise falsifies identification offered as proof of age, with the intent of purchasing marijuana, marijuana products or marijuana accessories, shall be punished by a civil penalty of not more than $100 and shall complete a drug awareness program established pursuant to section 32M of chapter 94C of the General Laws. The parents or legal guardian of any offender under the age of 18 shall be notified in accordance with section 32N of chapter 94C of the General Laws and the failure within 1 year of the offense of such an offender to complete a drug awareness program may be a basis for delinquency proceedings for persons under the age of 17 at the time of the person's offense.
(g) Enforcement. Civil penalties imposed pursuant to this section shall be enforced by utilizing the non-criminal disposition procedures provided in section 32N of chapter 94C of the General Laws.
(h) Notwithstanding chapter 94C, a person less than 21 years of age, except a qualifying patient holding a valid registration card for the medical use of marijuana, who cultivates not more than 12 marijuana plants shall be punished by a civil penalty of not more than $100 and shall complete a drug awareness program established pursuant to section 32M of chapter 94C. If that person is less than 18 years of age, the parent or legal guardian of that person shall be notified in accordance with section 32N of said chapter 94C. If a person is less than 17 years of age at the time of the offense and fails to complete a drug awareness program not later than 1 year after the offense, that person may be subject to delinquency proceedings.
(i) Whoever furnishes marijuana, marijuana products or marijuana accessories to a person less than 21 years of age, either for the person’s own use or for the use of the person’s parent or another person shall be punished by a fine of not more than $2,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or both such fine and imprisonment.
For the purposes of this subsection, “furnish” shall mean to knowingly or intentionally supply, give or provide to or allow a person less than 21 years of age, except for the children and grandchildren of the person being charged, to possess marijuana, marijuana products or marijuana accessories on premises or property owned or controlled by the person charged.
This subsection shall not apply to the sale, delivery or furnishing of medical marijuana pursuant to chapter 369 of the acts of 2012.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

same day registering to vote is on it's way

From the Globe:

 A huge victory for voters came today from the Suffolk Superior Court who ruled that the 20 day cut-off for voters to register before an election is unconstitutional. In a lawsuit filed last year by the ACLU on behalf of the Chelsea Collaborative and MassVote, argued that the law is unnecessary and arbitrary. Sec Bill Galvin is making arrangements to appeal, but at the end of the day and perhaps before this election season, those who haven't registered to vote will be able to do so on the spot. This is long overdue and will help residents feel n more connected to the voting system and our democracy.

SJC rules local police can't act as arm of ICE

From the Globe

In summary what this means is that local cops can't hold a person who is wanted solely for immigration violations. This does not mean that wanted criminal's will not be detained by local cops if the Fed's want them for other violations. There are a few Republicans at the State House who will propose a bill that flies in the face of the SJC ruling. Not much chance of that bill moving anywhere but the trash can.