How does the recent decriminalization of Marijuana in Massachusetts effect the drug testing policy this state has had for so long?
November 30, 2008 12:15 PM   Subscribe

How does the recent decriminalization of Marijuana in Massachusetts effect the drug testing policy this state has had for so long? Will Marijuana be taken off the drug testing roster?
posted by bostonhill to Law & Government (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
"Decriminalization" is not the same thing as "legalization," and furthermore it is still criminal and illegal on the federal level.
posted by Electrius at 12:36 PM on November 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I actually sort of know the answer to this, but the main answer right now is "they're not sure." My sister works for the MA State Crime lab. Please don't quote me on this, but this is what I've gleaned from holidaytime conversations with her about this.

Right now the only action they've taken is that they're no longer prosecuting "less than one oz of weed" crimes. They estimate that 30% of the lab's testing work is for this "less than an oz of weed" so it's going to be interesting to see what they do going forward. There's the additional problem that the statute is unclear in places and so it's still being interpreted. I guess in one place (and I haven't checked this) there's a reference to "an ounce or less of THC" which as you know is potentially a shitton of weed.

So, if stuff is going to have to be tested for THC levels, to make sure it's not super potent or impotent weed, then this is going to keep the crime lab in the testing business for a long time to come. Right now, it's still not totally clear and I've heard that the head of the Crime Lab went on record as saying this will not affect their workload but that seems unlikely, no matter what happens.
posted by jessamyn at 12:52 PM on November 30, 2008


Thanks you Jessamyn!
posted by bostonhill at 12:59 PM on November 30, 2008


And it just occurred to me that you're likely talking about a totally different sort of drug testing, sorry about that.
posted by jessamyn at 12:59 PM on November 30, 2008


Not Boston-specific, but: even if something is decriminalized, it's still illegal. If employers already have the right to test for illegal drugs in MA, I can't see how/why that would change.

Unless the news stories are very wrong on this, the state has only decided not to punish small marijuana offenders the same way as they have in the past. They haven't legalized it.
posted by rokusan at 1:22 PM on November 30, 2008


...the state has only decided not to punish small marijuana offenders the same way as they have in the past. They haven't legalized it.

Exactly.
"Massachusetts voters today approved a ballot initiative to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, making getting caught with less than an ounce of pot punishable by a civil fine of $100. The change in the law means someone found carrying as many as dozens of marijuana cigarettes will no longer be reported to the state’s criminal history board....The proposition will require those younger than age 18 to complete a drug awareness program and community service. The fine would increase to as much as $1,000 for those who fail to complete the program."
The passing of the referendum eliminates criminal penalties for those found to be in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, subjecting them instead to a citation and fine.

Related: Officials look for guidelines on marijuana initiative
"How will a police officer know whether someone is carrying more than an ounce of marijuana?

Will those caught smoking it present sufficient probable cause for an officer to search them or their car?

How will officers cite people for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and will there be an appeals process?"
posted by ericb at 1:51 PM on November 30, 2008


In Alaska, where a similar law has been in effect for a long time, it is still legal to piss test for THC and to fire someone who is positive. I am not an expert on the law but my impression is that getting caught with the plant in your pocket and being proven to have actually taken the plant are two different things.
posted by Foam Pants at 2:14 PM on November 30, 2008


I may be wrong, and I'm not in MA, but I believe employers have the right to drug test regardless of how illegal a substance is, just as they can choose not to. There are a lot of things you can be fired for/not hired for that aren't illegal activities. As a matter of fact, some employers, such as the World Health Organization, don't hire tobacco smokers.
posted by fructose at 6:34 PM on November 30, 2008


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