Massachusetts: NORML Files Friend Of Court Brief – Argues That Sharing A Marijuana Cigarette Is Not Criminal Distribution

Massachusetts: NORML Files Friend Of Court BriefBoston, MA: Members of the NORML Legal Committee (NLC) have filed a friend-of-the-court amicus brief in the case of Commonwealth v. Antonio Pacheco, scheduled for oral argument in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) at 9:00 AM on Thursday December 6, 2012 in Boston.

NORML’s brief was filed in response to the SJC’s invitation for amicus briefs on the question of "whether the sharing of a non-criminal quantity of marijuana for the purpose of smoking it constitutes unlawful distribution of the substance." In its brief, NORML argues that cannabis prohibition is irrational and unconstitutional because it fails to achieve the legitimate objectives previously identified by the court in dismissing constitutional challenge.

Prepared and filed by NLC members Michael D. Cutler of Northampton and Steven S. Epstein of Georgetown, the amicus is a "Brandeis Brief." It presents the sociological and electoral data demonstrating that a growing majority of Americans and Bay State voters support replacing prohibition with regulations controlling it like alcoholic beverages. It also presents peer-reviewed research demonstrating that criminalizing cannabis has had no effect on the rate of marijuana or availability (by adults and adolescents), the rate of psychosis, the use of harder drugs, or dangerous driving.

States NORML’s brief: "This case raises the issue of whether this Court should expand the scope of the evaporating policy of criminal marijuana prohibition, in the face of that policy’s consistent rejection by a growing majority of state voters to threaten criminal prosecution for sharing a marijuana joint. NORML urges the SJC to reject the prosecution of adults sharing marijuana as a matter of rationality, history and voting public’s unambiguous rejection of marijuana prohibition."

NORML’s brief supplements the arguments of Antonio Pacheco’s counsel as well as those presented in a separate amicus filed by the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which also urges the SJC to conclude such sharing cannabis is protected activity under the law.

Also scheduled for argument on December 6 are two additional cases involving cannabis: Commonwealth v. Clint Daniel (Does odor of burnt marijuana furnish police reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct justifying exit order and search?) and Commonwealth v. Kenneth Palmer (Does decriminalized possession of one ounce or less of marijuana also criminal sanctions imposed for the cultivation of an ounce or less of marijuana?)

For more information, please contact Michael Cutler of the NORML Legal Committee at (617) 816-6056 or via e-mail at: