BOSTON (AP) - Key portions of Massachusetts’ voter-approved recreational marijuana law were cleared to go into effect after the Governor’s Council on Wednesday certified the results of the Nov. 8 ballot question - though not without some contentious moments.
It will become legal on Thursday for adults 21 and over to possess up to 1 ounce of pot outside their homes and up to 10 ounces of the drug inside their homes. Adults will also be allowed to cultivate as many as a dozen marijuana plants in their homes.
The Governor’s Council - an eight-member elected body dating back to Colonial times - is responsible for the normally routine task of certifying the official results of all elections.
Jennie Caissie of Oxford, the only Republican on the council, caught many of her colleagues off guard by asking for a roll call on certification of the marijuana law, though she did not dispute a tally provided by the Secretary of State’s office that showed Question 4 was approved by a margin of more than 240,000 votes.
Caissie said she could not “in good conscience” vote to certify, contending marijuana was a “gateway” to heroin and other dangerously addictive drugs.
“I will not vote today to destroy more lives in Massachusetts,” she said.
Several other councilors immediately objected to Cassie’s call for a vote on the merits of marijuana legalization, arguing that their constitutional role was only to certify election results, not to say whether they personally agreed or disagreed with what voters decided.
Following a recess and closed-door meeting with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, a second councilor, Michael Albano of Springfield, agreed to withdraw his seconding of Caissie’s motion for a roll call, allowing for certification by a voice vote.
Also Wednesday, state Public Safety Secretary Daniel Bennett circulated a memo to police departments around the state, outlining an array of enforcement issues surrounding the new law. While possession and use of small amounts of recreational marijuana will be legal, it will remain illegal to sell the drug for at least another year until a regulatory board is established and retail licenses issued.
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