Massachusetts Marijuana Laws
Massachusetts marijuana laws have changed drastically since Novembers votes. In the months leading up to the vote last year, Massachusetts was considered to be a state where the cannabis ballot could go either way. In fact, it was possibly the one state that was least likely to go ahead with recreational cannabis legalization, given how turbulent things had been on the campaign trail.
Defying many expectations though, recreational cannabis was given the official green light after passing by a margin of more than 240,000 votes. Which means that right now, the consumption and possession of recreational cannabis in Massachusetts is officially legal. The only problem being that it is going to be a minimum of at least one more year before retail licenses are issued, enabling cannabis to be sold legally. Which basically means that in the meantime, it remains entirely illegal to buy or sell recreational cannabis, even though carrying it and using it are both legal.
Slightly odd, but relatively standard with the way things are these days.
So just in case you were wondering what you might expect if planning a trip to Massachusetts in the near future, here’s a quick rundown of just a few of the most important ins and outs when it comes to the legality of cannabis as it stands right now.
Massachusetts Marijuana Possession
In terms of basic possession, the new law applies only to those aged at least 21 years or older, who are now permitted to carry up to a maximum of 1 ounce of cannabis when away from their homes. The rules remain entirely the same for those under the age of 21, who are not permitted to carry or use any amount of cannabis at all for any reason. In any instance where an adult is found to have in their possession less than 2 ounces but more than the 1 ounce of cannabis permitted, they may be fined $100. Any amount of cannabis in excess of 2 ounces being carried away from the home of the individual is considered a criminal offence. Inside the home however, adults of qualifying age are able to hold onto a maximum of 10 ounces of cannabis.
Cultivation in Massachusetts
Mirroring the new legislation in many other states, Massachusetts marijuana laws state that each adult is able to legally cultivate a maximum of six cannabis plants at home. If there are two or more adults living in the same property, a maximum of 12 plants can be grown per household – regardless of how many occupants there are. Anyone growing more cannabis plants that are legally allowed may be subject to criminal charges. In addition, the legislation for Massachusetts states that the plants must be grown somewhere that is not openly visible from any public area or street outside. In addition, those renting properties may be prohibited from growing cannabis plants by their landlords.
Massachusetts Marijuana Sales
It will only be legal to sell recreational cannabis in Massachusetts if you obtain the required licensing and pay the required fees and taxes. As already mentioned however, this is something that isn’t going to start happening for at least another year. The process of setting in place the required legislation looks set to be extremely complicated and longwinded, which means for the time being the licensing system required technically doesn’t even exist. In the meantime, recreational cannabis cannot be sold by any person or business in any fashion, without directly breaking the law and facing potential criminal penalties. However, medical marijuana may still be sold and accessed in accordance with the same legislation and rules governing the industry beforehand.
While the new law permits the carriage of cannabis in public places, it is still entirely illegal to use cannabis in any public place. From parks to sidewalks to quite literally anywhere else other members of the public are able to go, using cannabis in any of these places is liable to result in a fine of $100 on the spot. Generally speaking, the rules follow those laid out for tobacco use – anywhere it is not permitted to use tobacco is most likely somewhere you cannot legally use cannabis.
There is also no change in the rules when it comes to the use of cannabis behind the wheel. What’s important to remember is that just as it is illegal to have an open alcohol container anywhere in a car, the same applies to cannabis. Which basically means that just as it is entirely illegal for the driver of a vehicle to be using or under the influence of cannabis, it is also illegal for anyone else in the car to be smoking or using cannabis. And yes, this also applies to cars that are not in motion at the time. However, if the cannabis is held in a sealed container, this is permitted under the new law.
It’s important to be aware of the fact that the new changes in cannabis laws do not have any bearing whatsoever on workplace policies. If any employer chose to implement cannabis testing and in any way disciplined or fired members of staff for using cannabis previously, all such policies may legally remain exactly as they are. It is entirely the responsibility of the workplace to determine and enforce its own cannabis employment policies. Which means that if you are reprimanded, fired or not hired in the first place due to cannabis use, you have no legal argument if you have breached company policy.
As already touched upon, the new recreational cannabis policy in Massachusetts does not directly affect existing medical marijuana law. Anyone who is declared by their doctor qualifying for medical cannabis can receive and use a medical marijuana registration card, allowing them to legally purchase cannabis from licensed dispensaries. As has proved the case elsewhere, it is extremely likely that those already running medical marijuana dispensaries will be at the front of the queue when it comes to commercial retail licenses for recreational cannabis.
Last but not least, while it remains comprehensively legal to sell any amount of cannabis to any other person for any reason without a license, giving it away is an entirely different story. If you find yourself feeling particularly generous or simply have too much on hand at any one time, you are legally allowed to give any person over the age of 21 up to 1 ounce of cannabis. Which could make the whole sales and distribution thing rather difficult for authorities to enforce, given the way in which cannabis dealers are not exactly in the habit of providing receipts!