- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 15, 2016

Marijuana became legal to possess, harvest and use in Massachusetts on Thursday after officials formally certified the results of a ballot measure allowing for recreational weed from Provincetown to Pittsfield.

Beginning at midnight Thursday, Massachusetts joined the growing list of states where voters can legally smoke and grow pot when key components of last month’s ballot question were cleared to take effect.

Adults in the Bay State ages 21 and older can legally possess up to 1 ounce of pot outside their homes, up to 10 ounces of the pot inside their homes and harvest up to a dozen marijuana plants at a time. The law will also allow for licensed dispensaries to eventually sell recreational weed, though retail licenses won’t be handed out until at least 2018 as officials figure out a framework for its future pot shops.

Roughly 1.8 million people casted ballots last month in favor of the pro-pot ballot measure, allowing the initiative to pass by a margin of more than 240,000 votes. Implementation wasn’t immediate, however, on account of the outcome needing to be certified by a Colonial-era body known as the Governor’s Council. The group convened for its weekly meeting Wednesday in Boston and formally signed-off on the results of last month’s general election.

In legalizing recreational weed, Massachusetts has become the first state on the eastern seaboard to defy the federal government’s prohibition on pot, and the eighth state nationwide since voters in Colorado and Washington state passed recreational laws in 2012.

While Massachusetts voters agreed to reduce criminal penalties for marijuana possession in 2008 and authorized a medical marijuana program in 2012, on Thursday officials marked the first time in over a century that weed has been legal within the Bay State, the Boston Globe reported.

“It will no longer be appropriate for police to initiate a threshold inquiry-based merely on a reasonable belief that a person possesses a small quantity of marijuana,” Secretary of Public Safety and Security Daniel Bennett wrote in a letter to police departments this week.

Massachusetts, California, Nevada and Maine last month all voted in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana. Although the federal government continues to maintain that marijuana should be categorized as a Schedule 1 drug with no known health benefits, a pre-election survey conducted by Gallup in October revealed that 60 percent of Americans support legalizing the plant.

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