Recreational Marijuana is now officially legal in Massachusetts. The decision took effect on Thursday as officials formally tallied the voting results. However, challenges for full implementation still remain.
On Election Day, voters cast their ballots to certify the legal recreational use of marijuana in the state, though the results are not a landslide victory.
According to Boston report, a total of 1.8 million people favored the use of recreational marijuana while 1.5 million people were against it. The votes have been certified by The Governor’s Council on Wednesday. The law allows home cultivation and use of marijuana in private areas in Massachusetts. Nevertheless, full implementation of the law would take another 12 months.
Smoking weed publicly is still illegal and it would take another year to have it legally sold to licensed stores across the states. Over the next year, ‘selling’ up to an ounce of marijuana will be illegal but ‘purchasing’ it is legal, which would lead to ‘legal confusion’ among users and state authorities.
‘It’s a big money business’
Law enforcement authorities are also concerned about how to implement limitations over marijuana possession and the amount of cultivation in private areas.
“It’s going to be a challenge, a real challenge, for law enforcement to make sure people are adhering to the 12-plant limit,” Sgt. Scott Pendleton, a marijuana enforcement officer in Aurora, Colo., told The Boston Globe. “You’re going to see an increase in illegal cultivation and smuggling out of state. There’s going to have to be a concerted effort by law enforcement to go after it because it’s a big money business.”
Marijuana Legalization in Massachusetts got a close 54 percent votes on November 8. It is the first U.S state on the East Coast to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, followed by the state of Maine. The law allows home cultivation of up to 12 plants and will be legally sold to licensed retail stores beginning Jan. 1, 2018.
Based on reports, despite its legalization, state officials are trying to block its full implementation by delaying its commercialization until mid-2018 and insisted that creating a regulatory framework and establishing a Cannabis Control Commission – a three-person body in charge to oversee the law enforcement of marijuana in the state, would take time.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of State William Galvin tried to ease the tension among marijuana activists. He assured them that there are no efforts to weaken the full legalization of marijuana.
By March 2017, the state treasurer would need to appoint members of a Cannabis Control Commission, so they can start constructing regulatory guidelines for selling marijuana legally.