It’s official: Marijuana legal at midnight in Massachusetts
"Marijuana will be legal for possession, use, and home-growing Thursday for adults 21 and over.
"The initiative passed last month with 1.8 million people voting for the measure, despite the opposition of top politicians, the Catholic Church, doctors and business groups, and an array of other civic leaders. About 1.5 million people voted against it.
"For legalization advocates, the strike of midnight Thursday will represent the culmination of a long twilight struggle that was met with dismissal for decades, but increasing acceptance in recent years. Massachusetts voters decriminalized the drug in 2008, replacing the criminal penalties for possession of one ounce or less with a new system of civil penalties. And, in 2012, voters approved a ballot question legalizing marijuana for medical use.
"The law allows adults to grow up to six plants per person, with a maximum of 12 per household. It mandates the state treasurer appoint a three-person Cannabis Control Commission to regulate the new industry. And it sets a January 2018 timeframe for when retail pot shops can open.
"But the framework is likely to be tinkered with by politicians who believe it does not sufficiently protect public health and safety. Top leaders have discussed the prospect of delaying the opening of stores to give policymakers more time.
"For law enforcement the journey ahead may be the most rocky, especially in the next year.
"They will be forced to navigate a legal gray zone in which marijuana is legal for purchase, possession, and use, but the drug remains illegal to sell. (Sales are legal only through the regulated market, which won’t start until 2018.)"