Earlier this year Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly voted to pass Question 4, “The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act.” Non-medical possession and use is now legal for adults 21 years and older with some limitations. The Act takes effect today, December 15, 2016. I recommend that you review this summary of the limitations of the Act so that you do not unwittingly violate the law.
Here is what you need to know:
The Act allows possession of the following amounts:
- In your purse or pocket: one ounce or less on your person;
- In your home: 10 ounces or less; if you have more than an ounce in your home it must be secured in a locked container;
- Cultivation: you can grow up to 6 plants for personal use but no more than 12 plants can be cultivated in a single household; plants must not be visible from a public place and the growing area must be locked. Home cultivation for personal use does not require a permit unlike medical marijuana cultivation.
An individual is caught possessing more than the permissible amount will be subject to “minor” civil penalties if the excess is:
- Cultivation of more than six plants but does not exceed 12;
- Possession of more than 1 ounce but not in excess of 2 ounces outside your residence.
Gifting: The Act allows giving away or otherwise transferring without remuneration up to an ounce of marijuana but no more than 5 grams can be in the form of marijuana concentrate. The gift can only be given to a person over 21 and the transfer must not be advertised or otherwise publicly promoted. Until marijuana retail shops open in 2018 the only lawful sources of nonmedical marijuana is gifting or growing your own.
Marijuana Products: The Act legalizes marijuana products including concentrate, edible products, drinks, skin ointments, oils and tinctures. You may make these items for personal use or private donation. Selling these products at this time is illegal until a licensing scheme is established.
In your car: you will be subject to a civil penalty if you have an “open container” of marijuana or marijuana products in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. It is advisable to keep it in your trunk. Driving while under the influence of marijuana, of course, remains illegal.
In public: I am a confused about this section. The Act says that “no person shall consume marijuana in a public place or smoke marijuana where smoking tobacco is prohibited.” So the limitation on smoking marijuana is clear – you can only smoke it in places where you would be allowed to smoke tobacco. But I am confused as to whether the first part of that sentence, which prohibits consuming marijuana in a public place, means that you could not, for example, consume a marijuana edible (or ingest marijuana in any manner except smoking) in any public place. That’s how I read it but it seems illogical that you could stand outside and smoke a joint but not eat a pot brownie. The government and courts will provide clarification eventually.
Under 21: People under 21 caught in possession of an ounce or less of marijuana will be punished with a civil fine and will be required to complete a drug awareness program.
Here is the Act for your reading pleasure.
If you are ever accused of violating Massachusetts marijuana laws, please contact my office for a consultation.