By Dan Ring, The Republican Newsroom
BOSTON - Law enforcement officials say there are many loopholes, unintended consequences and other problems in the new law that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
The law replaces criminal penalties for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana with a civil fine of $100, about the same as getting a traffic ticket. Sixty-five percent of Massachusetts' voters approved the ballot law on Nov. 4, and it takes effect on Jan. 2
Law enforcement officials still have many doubts about the law. Among the concerns are that some people will not be required to identify themselves if stopped for marijuana, that police officers cannot be disciplined for possessing an ounce of less of marijuana, and that state laboratories which test narcotics for criminal cases will no longer test small amounts of marijuana seized in a civil matter.
In addition, guidelines issued by the state for the law's enforcement say possession of an ounce or less of THC - the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, hashish or hash oil - may now be decriminalized as well.
"The law is very confusing," said Holyoke Police Chief Anthony R. Scott this week. "The law presents a lot of problems for law enforcement."
Street dealers now will probably carry less than an ounce to elude arrest, he predicted. Under the new law, he said, police will no longer be able to arrest people for possessing an ounce or less and use them for information to go after dealers.