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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Mass. says new pot law allows other THC drugs, too

BOSTON (AP) — Guidelines for a new Massachusetts law that ends minor marijuana arrests say the law may also apply to other drugs with the same psychoactive ingredient, such as hashish.

The guidelines obtained Monday by The Associated Press say the law that takes effect Friday ends criminal penalties for possession of an ounce or less of THC — the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, hashish or hash oil.

Voters passed a referendum in November that instead imposes a civil penalty of a $100 fine and forfeiture of the drug.

The guidelines from the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security advise law enforcement agencies on the law's practical enforcement, but courts eventually are expected to have to settle questions on its scope.

The guidelines make clear that the law doesn't change existing regulations against drug distribution or driving under the influence, for example. In addition, all law enforcement officers with civil powers — including campus officers — have the authority to issue tickets.

The guidelines also recommend that cities and towns pass ordinances banning public use of such drugs.