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SJC: Sharing Marijuana ‘Joints’ Legal But Growing Pot Is Still A Crime

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(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS/AP) – The state Supreme Judicial Court has ruled sharing a marijuana cigarette is not a crime under the law that decriminalized possession of less than an ounce of the drug but cultivation is illegal.

The high court handed down four rulings Friday that seek to clarify the law that decriminalized possession of less than an ounce of marijuana for personal use. Voters approved decriminalization of the drug in 2008.

In the marijuana cigarette case, the SJC ruled sharing a “joint” does not constitute distribution and is protected conduct under the decriminalization law. The case involved a man who was arrested for sharing a joint at the annual Hempfest on Boston Common. The state argued the man was distributing the drug.

In two of the other cases, both of which involved guns seized during traffic stops, the court found that charges stemming from vehicle searches following the discovery of a small amount of marijuana should be thrown out because possession of an ounce or less of the drug is a civil infraction, not a crime.

The Suffolk County District Attorneys Office argued a law enforcement search in one of the gun cases was justified to determine whether the driver was under the influence. But the high court rejected that argument because the DA had not raised that issue until appeal.

In the fourth case, the court upheld criminal charges against a man who was growing marijuana — even though he had only an ounce in his home. The court’s decision in the case was based on the fact growing marijuana remains illegal in Massachusetts.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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