Lawyer: Pot Foes Blow Smoke

A key architect of a campaign to liberalize the state’s pot laws is accusing critics of using scare tactics to undermine the law before it even goes into effect Jan. 2.

Thomas Kiley, the Beacon Hill lawyer who wrote the text of the ballot question, charged district attorneys and cops are still trying to defeat Question 2 after voters passed it overwhelmingly, 65 percent to 35 percent, in November.

“All that is happening is people who were opposed to it then are still doing so instead of working to implement it,” Kiley said.

The Herald reported Thursday that district attorneys and the Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association believe the law would prevent state and local governments from imposing more than a $100 fine for union workers who test positive for pot, including bus and trolley drivers.

Kiley insisted an entire section of the law addresses that – and was written with the MBTA in mind. It says “personnel policies” are unaffected, and says laws against driving while high are unchanged. Kiley would not specifically address drug tests for police officers.

Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless contends the section Kiley cites keeps it illegal to drive “under the influence” and that a worker can be canned for that. But he said that does not protect state and city agencies that want to punish workers who flunk drug tests.

Concerned that voters inadvertently opened a loophole, Sen. James Timilty, co-chairman of the Public Safety Committee, promised closing it will be “mission No. 1” when the Legislature convenes next month.

“I don’t think anyone would say, yes, they would not want to (effectively test) a T bus driver to make certain he’s not impaired,” said Timilty, a Walpole Democrat.

Police Chiefs Association lawyer Jack Collins, who predicts union workers will sue if fired after the law goes into effect, said it could take months to tweak the law.

“We hope we don’t have a catastrophe before people wake up and try and address the problem,” Collins said.

The Patrick administration, which set up a task force to oversee the law’s implementation, wants to see how it works before pushing for changes, aides said.

– Article from The Boston Herald.