Pubdate: Sun, 27 Sep 2015
Source: Sun Chronicle (Attleboro, MA)
Copyright: 2015 Sun Chronicle


There were a couple of decisions on Tuesday involving marijuana. In 
our view, both were wrong.

The state Supreme Judicial Court ruled that police cannot pull over a 
vehicle simply because an officer smells burning marijuana, pointing 
to a 2008 ballot question approved by voters that decriminalized 
possession of one ounce or less of the drug. The court argued in part 
that because of the change in the law, the "strong" or "very strong" 
smell of unburnt marijuana is no longer enough to provide police with 
probable cause to believe that a criminal amount of the drug is present.

That's true, but that's probably not why an officer would pull over 
the vehicle. There is still the possibility that the driver may be 
impaired by the burning marijuana.

"It's a horrible decision," Attleboro Police Chief Kyle Heagney said. 
While possession of alcohol is legal for adults, he said, the smell 
of alcohol coming from a driver or vehicle has been used in the past 
as justification to stop a motorist suspected of drunken driving.

Area police chiefs also feared the same principle might be used to 
try to invalidate other drug-related stops, depending on the context.

It's in the public's interest to remove impaired drivers from the 
roads. The high court have hampered a reasonable police effort to do that.

The second decision was made by the Foxboro Board of Selectmen, which 
killed a proposal to locate a medical marijuana dispensary at an 
abandoned gas station on Route 1 near the Walpole line.

The developer, the nonprofit Beacon Compassion Center, argued that 
the dispensary was a convenient location for patients to pick up 
marijuana far from residences. Also pitching for the center was 
retired Boston sportscaster Bob Lobel, who said he chose marijuana 
over Oxycontin to relieve chronic pain from surgeries in both knees 
and a rotator cuff.

Selectmen argued that the medical marijuana business is too new and 
untested in Massachusetts. They also cited strong objections from 
residents in denying the plan.

Frankly, we are puzzled by the objections to marijuana dispensaries, 
in Foxboro and across Massachusetts. Far more powerful and addictive 
drugs are available at local drug stores, and there's never an 
objection when a CVS or Rite Aid moves to town. Do people really 
expect to see their neighborhood overrun with marijuana because a 
highly-regulated dispensary moves in?

Like the Supreme Judicial Court, Foxboro selectmen failed to serve 
the public's interests with its short-sighted decision.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom