Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

MASSACHUSETTS MARIJUANA HEARINGSTO START ON FRIDAY IN BOSTON

If you thought that decriminalizing marijuana in Massachusetts would make the use of the drug easier and less complicated…think again.

On the state side, prosecutions for possession of over an ounce or possession with the intent to distribute the stuff continue. As far as federal law enforcement, of course, it is illegal per se.

Of course between having to keep away from marijuana altogether and being able to possess some at will there is a gray area. Comfortably nestled in that gray area is the issue of medical marijuana.

In November, we voted in approval of the legalization of marijuana for debilitating medical conditions including cancer, Parkinson’s disease and AIDS.

The Department of Public Health issued draft regulations last month.

This week, Massachusetts officials will begin to hold hearings around the state to get public input on proposed regulations for medical marijuana.. Three such public hearings will be held Friday at 10 a.m. at the Public Health Department’s headquarters in Boston, Plymouth Memorial Hall in Plymouth and Look Park Garden House in Northampton.

Speakers are asked to provide a copy of their testimony. People can also email testimony to Reg.Testimony@state.ma.

The proposed regulations require operators of marijuana dispensaries to test their products for contaminants and to adopt inventory control measures.

The Public Health Council is scheduled to vote on the regulations May 8th.

Attorney Sam’s Take On The Complexities Of “Legal” Marijuana

Have you ever heard the saying, “water, water, water everywhere… And not a drop to drink?”

The same might now be true for marijuana in Massachusetts. You see, while it may no longer be a crime to posess a certain amount of marijuana, it is illegal for anybody to sell it to you. That would be distribution, together with possession with intent to distribute, and that would be a felony crime.

“Well, what if somebody just gave me some of theirs ?”

Same thing. It is distribution.

“What if I just grow with myself?”

That would be it illegal, in that you would be manufacturing the drug. Don’t feel left out though, you would also be tagged with possession with intent to distribute.

While the Commonwealth may not feel that it needs to take steps to make sure that the average consumer of marijuana is able to possess it, It does seem to be taking a different stance when it comes to marijuana use for medical purposes.

Therefore, there is a debate as to how that function can be performed.

Rest assure that most of those involved in law enforcement are not in favor of marijuana becoming legal or legitimate at all. Therefore, when push comes to shove, they will arrest if at all possible. While they have been outvoted by the citizens of Massachusetts, they do not like to take it lightly. Therefore, if the case can be made of illegal distribution, they will attempt to make it..

You might think that setting up something like a marijuana dispensary would not be the most brain crushing thing to do. Apparently, you would be wrong. And so the hearings begin.

You might also come to the conclusion that, if the government really wanted to listen to the people, it would simply set up such dispensaries and, particularly in the case when medical marijuana is not involved, license places to sell it and control it as is done with alcohol. That day may be coming, but it is not here yet.

The further digestion of the changes in the marijuana laws are going to become more complicated. Making a mistake regarding them will bring about prosecutions. Remember, the law is clear that ignorance of the law is not an excuse or a defense.

While many people, particularly the young, have made the mistake of thinking that acquisition and possession of marijuana is now safe in the eyes of the law, be advised that they are wrong.

As time moves on, and procedures are set up, my practice will be paying attention and open to help people we’ve the way through the system regarding marijuana. This, of course, includes the defense of marijuana cases as well as the helping of clients in getting whatever paperwork or license that becomes necessary in order to legally acquire it.

Some people have already made the mistake of assuming that being prosecuted in a marijuana related case has now become a joke. Laugh if you want to, but you may laugh yourself into a felony conviction while doing so.

In other words, treated seriously like any criminal case. Get an experienced attorney to represent and guide you through the labyrinth of the law.

In the meantime, you might be wondering what about drugs that, if legally prescribed, I perfectly legal? Drugs like Adderall?

Good question. Let’s deal with that next.

For the original story upon which this blog was based, please go to http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2013/04/mass_to_hold_public_hearings_on_medical_marijuana

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