Marijuana advocates in Massachusetts were concerned that the newly passed law that legalized the drug in November would not go into effect until the new year. This is not the case, however, according to Secretary of State William Galvin as reported in Boston Magazine. The votes will indeed be certified in time for the new law to take effect on the date outlined on the ballot questions, December 15, 2016. As late as the first week of December, lawmakers were not ruling out a delay. Many feared a final approval and certification of the votes would not happen until after the New Year.

 

Things to Note on December 15

Boston Magazine reports there are rumors coming out of Beacon Hill that deadlines for the state to draft the new regulations regarding legalization that will come with the law will be pushed back, resulting in a delayed start for those who will dive into the legal marijuana industry. In the meantime, if you or someone you know is in Boston on or after the law goes into effect, there are a few things to consider before lighting up:

  • It is still illegal to use marijuana in public places, so its use must be in the confines of the home, and assuming the landlord approves, if renting;
  • Buying or selling marijuana is still prohibited by law and those under 21 years of age cannot use it at all. The drug can be legally given for free, however;
  • Under the law, it is legal to possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana in your residence but only one ounce if you are in public;
  • Possession of marijuana inside of a vehicle is similar to alcohol: It is prohibited to have an open container of marijuana in a car unless it is inside the trunk or in a locked glove box; and
  • The law allows for six marijuana plants per person, or 12 plants for household. Plants must be out of the neighbors’ sight to the point where it would be impossible to see without the use of binoculars, aircraft, or other optical aids.

Criminal Attorney Help

It is important to note that while marijuana may be legal in Massachusetts as of December 15th, and while several states already have similar laws in effect, federal law still prohibits the use of the drug. For this reason, if you or someone you know is uncertain about your rights to use, possess, or grow marijuana or has any other related legal issue, it is important to contact a knowledgeable criminal attorney to learn about your rights and obligations under state and federal laws.

Restrictions to Georgia’s Public Records Law Proposed by Fulton County Attorney

One of Georgia’s county attorneys has proposed a change to the state’s open records law, according to a recent Atlanta-Journal Constitution news report. The proposed change to the state’s open records law would categorize some requests as frivolous and abusive. The result would be limiting the amount of open records requests that can be made within one year. The changes were proposed by Patrise Perkins-Hooker, the Fulton County attorney. According to statements by Ms. Perkins-Hooker’ at a Fulton County Commission meeting, she claimed she had a discussion with the attorney general’s office prior to presenting the changes before the commissioners and that the office agreed with the changes. The attorney general’s office has not made a comment on the proposed changes.

Proposed Changes

Ms. Perkins-Hooker’s proposed change to Georgia’s public records law intends to limit the requests to the same agency from individuals who are not members of the media to a maximum of 15 per year. Additionally, individuals would be prohibited from making more than two open records requests within a 10-day period. As the current law stands, there are no limitations on the amount or frequency of public records requests.

Beyond limiting the requests, the proposed changes would allow for a charge and subsequent conviction of a misdemeanor, as well as a $1,000 fine, for those who violate the law for the first time. Subsequent violations within the same year could result in a $2,500 for each violation.

According to Ms. Perkins-Hooker, it is not uncommon for the general public to repeatedly make public records requests, at times in a manner that involves abusive tone and language to staff, and the requests lack a legitimate purpose. The Commissioners requested more information supporting a change and were concerned as to whom would determine whether or not the request was frivolous. Part of the discussion during the Commission meeting was whether or not the costs incurred by the public for records requests did not reduce the likelihood of illegitimate requests; Ms. Perkins-Hooker noted because electronic records requests were free of charge.

The executive director of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation stated her group intended to vigorously oppose the proposal which, according to the group, “cuts the citizen out of the process” and undermines democracy.

Seek Legal Help

If you or someone you know feels his or her first amendment rights – or any other constitutional rights – are being violated, contact a knowledgeable attorney in your area right away.

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