While the California prison guards helped defeat Prop. 5, stoners nationwide are lighting up splifs in celebration of their marijuana victories: Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to pass a medical marijuana measure. More significantly, Massachusetts passed a referendum decriminalizing possession of less than a ounce of marijuana. Possession will be a civil fine of $100. That's good (though it won't do anything to reduce drug-prohibition-related violence).
Amazingly, despite the opposition of the governor, most politicians, and all of law enforcement, the referendum was supported by 65% of voters.
Arlington Chief Frederick Ryan was stupid enough to admit that without crazy harsh penalties for marijuana, it will be harder to get people to work as police snitches. Why is Chief Ryan stupid? Because he just admitted something that is almost assuredly against his own department's regulations and perhaps illegal and unconstitutional, to boot. You see, you can't tell people to work undercover for the police and if they don't, you'll through them in jail. Of course that's what happens all the time, but it's not allowed.
Everybody knows snitches work for the police to save their own hide and shouldn't be trusted, but you're not allowed to officially offer them a quid pro quo. In theory, and legally, all confidential informants work voluntarily because they want to do the right thing.
Frank Pasquerello, a spokesman for the Cambridge Police Department, wondered whether officers will have to start carrying scales. Uh, Frank? No.
Chelsea Chief Brian Kyes, more of a thinking man, wonders what this will mean for issues of probable cause. That's a good question. I'd like to know the answer.
Boston commissioner Edward F. Davis seems to have a good head on his shoulders. He said the law should not be harder to enforce than others on the books: "I'm disappointed that it went through... but I don't think the sky is falling by any stretch of the imagination."
The whole story by David Abel of the Globe is here.