In November, 63 percent of voters decided there should be no punishment when people use the drug for medicinal purposes.
Today, ABC40 asked Holyoke police how this new law will change their job — will they find a lot more people using the drug?
It turns out, a lot of people already are.
“You run across a lot of people with a few baggies, or less than an ounce, and it’s not an arrestable offense anymore, so the arrests for that have gone down,” says Sgt. Kevin Thomas of the Holyoke Police Dept.
Back in 2008, voters decriminalized possession for less than an ounce of marijuana. If officers find a small amount on you, all they can do is confiscate the drug and issue a $100 citation.
Carrying more than one ounce means you’ll still face criminal charges, unless you’ve got a medical marijuana card. Card-carrying patients can carry up to a 60-day supply.
“You would have to be a cardholder, or the caregiver of someone who is designated through the Department of Public Health,” says Thomas.
But since state officials are still working on the logistics of the program, police don’t expect to find many people carrying cards in the coming months.
“To my knowledge, the Department of Public Health has until May to get all their rules and regulations situated — I guess, what the card and the format is going to look like, and the applications for those cards,” says Thomas.
People with “debilitating medical conditions,” including cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, hepatitis C, and Parkinson’s disease can apply for medical marijuana cards with a prescription from their doctor.
The state will oversee up to 35 dispensary sights where card-carrying patients can legally purchase marijuana.