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Massachusetts v. Palmer

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Police officers found that Defendant was growing marijuana in his closet when they went to arrest Defendant for his active warrants. Defendant contends that he should be civilly fined under the 2008 amendment of the Act.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    The 2008 amendment of the Act did not decriminalize the cultivation of marijuana, regardless of the users intended use.

    Facts.

    Police officers entered Defendant, Palmer’s, apartment and arrested because he held active warrants. When they were searching for the Defendant in his home, they found in plain view a closet containing several lights, a large piece of foil, an electric timer device for the lights, a thermometer on the wall just above the plants, marijuana seeds, and other evidence in which a reasonable officer would believe marijuana was being grown in the closet. Thereafter, Defendant was charged with cultivation of marijuana.

    Issue.

    What is the effect of § 32L stating “An Act establishing a sensible State marihuana policy†has on the offense of cultivation when the amount of marijuana cultivated weighs on ounce of less?

    Held.

    The cultivation of marijuana, regardless of the users intended use, is prohibited from the Act.

    Concurrence.

    § 32L decriminalized the growing of marijuana for personal use. Here, the facts do not indicate the Defendant was manufacturing or distributing marijuana. The word cultivate in the statute must be read more narrowly because of the words proceeding it, manufacture, distribute, and dispense. Those three words imply behavior associated with drug trafficking, not possession of drugs for personal use.

    Discussion.

    Under Section 32C(a), “[a]ny person who knowingly or intentionally manufactures, distributes, dispenses or cultivates, or possesses with intent to manufacture, distribute, dispense or cultivate [marijuana] shall be imprisoned. . . .†However, in 2008 the Act changed the statutes for possession of marijuana, stating that one ounce or less of possession marijuana is solely a civil fine.  Defendant contends that the cultivation of one ounce or less also falls into the 2008 Act. The Defendant further contends that because the legislature intended to decriminalize the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, the legislature also intended to decriminalize the cultivation of the same amount. However, the court rejected Defendant’s contentions because the Act did not expressly decriminalize other forms of conduct, except the possession of marijuana in the amount of one ounce or less. Likewise, the wording of the Act does not imply another meaning. In regards to the concurring opinion, the court notes that the statute does not clarify the cultivation for “personal use.†Rather, the Act forbids the cultivation of marijuana, regardless of the intended use.



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