When Massachusetts decriminalized “simple possession” of marijuana, it failed to “provide clear ways to implement” the less severe civil sanctions that replaced the former penalties, according to law student Matt Scoble, who addresses the issue in a Rappaport Briefing commentary, “The Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative: Need for Better Implementation.”

The change in the law -- the result of a 2008 ballot initiative – applies to possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

“The changes have caused some confusion in the legal community and also some frustration among law enforcement due to the difficulty of collecting of civil fines imposed by this new law,” Scoble writes.

One reason for this difficulty: “Offenders often give fictitious names knowing it is unlawful for law enforcement authorities to demand identification for civil offenses.”

Scoble argues that the law should be changed to mandate identification under these circumstances.

The Rappaport Briefing offers a collection of student commentaries on issues confronting state and local government in Massachusetts, from utilities regulation to English-language learning. The briefing blog, created by the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk University Law School, also presents news about Rappaport Center activities.

Scoble’s legal interests are centered on criminal prosecution and election reform.