Massachusetts legalization effort begins 

BOSTON (Mar. 18, 2015) – A bill introduced in Massachusetts would legalize marijuana and hemp for the general public, effectively nullifying the federal prohibition on the same.

House Bill 1561 (H1561) was introduced on March 10 by State Reps. David Rogers (D-Cambridge) and Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) along with 13 bipartisan co-sponsors. If this bill is successful, Massachusetts would become the first state to legalize both hemp and marijuana for recreational purposes through the legislature rather than the popular vote.

Both are considered illegal by all branches of the federal government, and with a vast majority of prohibition arrests done by states and not the federal government, passage would nullify in practice any attempt by the federal government to keep these plants illegal in Massachusetts.

H1561 would allow an individual over the age of 21 to possess, use, obtain, purchase and transport up to 10 ounces of marijuana or up to 10 pounds of marijuana-infused products. Possession of marijuana by individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 shall be a civil infraction. Minors caught with marijuana would be required to complete a Drug Awareness Program.

Individuals would be allowed to set up marijuana shops, referred to as cannabis cafes in the bill, if they obtain a proper license. They would also be permitted to grow marijuana after receiving a cultivation license. The bill also classifies industrial hemp as a “product from cannabis,” and legalizes that crop for production and distribution as well.

Bills like H1561 are sweeping the nation, and for good reason. Reforms like these can affect federal policy while circumventing the Washington D.C. power structure completely.

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