Massachusetts Marijuana Laws

Voters in Massachusetts legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and older at the ballot in 2016, although the drug is not likely to be on sale in retail stores until 2018. It is now legal to possess up to one ounce in public, and up to ten ounces in one’s own residence. Gifting and home cultivation are also permitted.

Massachusetts Marijuana Attorneys

The following Massachusetts lawyers are actively involved in the practice of cannabis law:

Mass_clmalcolm
Mass_attorneygrimaldi

LAW BREAKDOWN

Marijuana is legal for recreational use in Massachusetts by adults aged 21 and older, after the state’s voters legalized the drug in 2016.

Possession

It is legal for adults 21 and older to possess marijuana for recreational use in Massachusetts. Possession by a minor is not permitted. The laws allows adults to carry up to 1 ounce of marijuana, or 5 grams of marijuana concentrates, in public without penalty, but possession of more than that is punishable by fines and imprisonment.

Possession of more than 1 ounce, on a first offense, comes with a maximum penalty of 6 months’ incarceration and $500 in fines. On a subsequent offense, the top penalty increases to 2 years in prison and fines of $2,000.

Possession limits are much higher when within one’s own residence; adults are allowed to possess up to 10 ounces.

Gifting cannabis is also allowed, up to a point. Massachusetts law allows adults to gift 1 ounce of marijuana to another adult aged 21 or older.

Possession of cannabis within 300 feet of a school, or within 100 feet of a public park, is a felony that comes with heavy penalties. It’s punishable by between 2 and 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

It is likewise a felony to cause or induce someone under 18 years old to commit an offense, with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

With intent to distribute

Possession with intent to distribute up to 50 lbs of marijuana comes with a maximum penalty of 2 years in prison and $5,000 in fines on a first offense. For second-time offenders, the penalty increases to a possible 2.5 years in prison and fines of $10,000.

Possession with intent to distribute weights between 50 and 100 lbs is a felony, and comes with a mandatory minimum of 1 year is jail, a maximum of 15 years in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines. When the amount is between 100 and 2,000 lbs, the mandatory minimum is 2 years in prison, the maximum is 15 years, and a fine of up to $25,000 is payable.

When the amount is more than 2,000 lbs but less than 10,000 lbs, the prison term is between 2.5 and 15 years, and the top fine is $50,000. And finally, when the quantity involved is over 10,000 lbs, the prison sentence is between 8 and 15 years, and the maximum possible fine is $200,000.

Consumption

Like in any other state with legal marijuana laws, public consumption of the drug is completely banned; that includes parks, public streets, and sidewalks. If you decide to smoke up in public, be prepared to pay a $100 civil fine.

Cultivation

Residents of Massachusetts are permitted to grow up to 6 cannabis plants at home, and a maximum of 12 per household applies when more than two adults live in a single residence. Cultivation of any more than this can result in civil fines, or even criminal charges. A condition of the law dictates that marijuana plants may not be grown within plain view of the street or another public area.

A note for tenants: landlords can prohibit marijuana cultivation in their property.

Sale and Distribution

The sale of cannabis is only legal in Massachusetts if the seller has a retail license, but the first licenses are unlikely to be approved before at least 2018. The penalties for distributing marijuana in Massachusetts are the same as penalties for possession with intent to distribute.

Hash and Concentrates

It is legal for adults to possess up to 5 grams of marijuana concentrates in Massachusetts. Possessing between 5 grams and 1 ounce is a civil offense, punishable by a maximum $100 fine. The penalties get steeper when the weight involved more than an ounce; the maximum penalty is 1 year in jail and $1,000 in fines.

Manufacturing or distributing concentrates is not permitted, and the offense comes with between 2.5 and 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines. Distribution to a minor comes with a heavier punishment; doing so can land you between 2 and 15 years in prison and $25,000 in fines. Using a minor in the production or distribution of cannabis comes with a prison sentence of between 5 and 15 years, and up to $100,000 in fines.

Paraphernalia

Selling, possessing, or purchasing marijuana paraphernalia is legal in Massachusetts, unless the recipient is under 18 years of age. The penalty is between 3 and 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.

DUI

Just like before the legalization measure took effect, you are not allowed to drive a car under the influence of cannabis. Police are allowed to pull over a car and issue a citation if they can see the driver or a passenger smoking. And similar to the law banning open containers of alcohol in vehicles, open containers of marijuana are not permitted, either.

The laws apply whether a vehicle is in motion or not, and you can face fines of up to $500. Possession of up to one ounce is allowed, as long as it is in a secured container.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Massachusetts legalized the medicinal use of marijuana by way of ballot initiative in 2012.

“The citizens of Massachusetts intend that there should be no punishment under state law for qualifying patients, physicians and health care professionals, personal caregivers for patients, or medical marijuana treatment center agents for the medical use of marijuana…”

Qualifying conditions – Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Cancer, Crohn’s disease, Glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and any other conditions as determined in writing by a physician.

Patient possession limits – 60-day supply

Home cultivation – Yes, limited amounts

State-licensed dispensaries – Yes. No more than 35 state-licensed dispensaries are permitted

Caregivers – Yes. qualifying patients are allowed to list a personal caregiver to cultivate marijuana for them if they are unable to access a state-licensed dispensary or if they can prove “financial hardship.” Personal caregivers must be aged 21 or older.

Reciprocity – No

Contact informationMassachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance

PENALTIES

Offense Penalty Incarceration   Max. Fine

Possession

Personal Use

Up to 1 oz No Penalty None $ 0
More than 1 oz (first offense) Misdemeanor 6 months $ 500
More than 1 oz (subsequent offense) Misdemeanor 2 years $ 2,000

With intent to distribute

Less than 50 lbs (first offense) Not Classified 0 – 2 years $ 5,000
Less than 50 lbs (subsequent offense) Not Classified 1 – 2.5 years $ 10,000
50 – less than 100 lbs Felony 1* – 15 years $ 10,000
100 – less than 2000 lbs Felony 2* – 15 years $ 25,000
2000 – less than 10,000 lbs Felony 3.5* – 15 years $ 50,000
10,000 lbs or more Felony 8* – 15 years $ 200,000
Within 300 feet of a school, or within 100 feet of a public park Felony 2* – 15 years $ 10,000
Causing or inducing someone under 18 years to commit offenses Felony 5* – 15 years $ 100,000
* Mandatory minimum sentence

Cultivation

Up to 6 plants No Penalty None $ 0

Distribution

Less than 50 lbs (first offense) Not Classified 0 – 2 years $ 5,000
Less than 50 lbs (subsequent offense) Not Classified 1 – 2.5 years $ 10,000
50 – less than 100 lbs Felony 1* – 15 years $ 10,000
100 – less than 2000 lbs Felony 2* – 15 years $ 25,000
2000 – less than 10,000 lbs Felony 3.5* – 15 years $ 50,000
10,000 lbs or more Felony 8* – 15 years $ 200,000
Within 300 feet of a school, or within 100 feet of a public park Felony 2* – 15 years $ 10,000
Causing or inducing someone under 18 years to commit offenses Felony 5* – 15 years $ 100,000
* Mandatory minimum sentence

Hash & Concentrates

Possession of up to 5 g No Penalty None $ 0
Possession of 5 g to 1 oz Civil Offense N/A $ 100
Possession of more than 1 oz N/A 1 year $ 1,000
Manufacture or distribution N/A 2.5 – 5 years $ 5,000
Manufacture or distribution to a minor N/A 2 – 15 years $ 25,000
Using a minor to manufacture or distribute N/A 5* – 15 years $ 100,000
* Mandatory minimum sentence

Paraphernalia

Selling, possessing, or purchasing paraphernalia No Penalty None $ 0
Selling to someone under 18 years of age Felony 3 – 5 years $ 5,000

Forfeiture

Marijuana, vehicles, and money are subject to forfeiture.

Miscellaneous

Conspiracy to commit any marijuana related offense is punishable by up to the maximum punishment.
Possession of 1 oz or less cannot result in the suspension of driving privileges.