Massachusetts officially legalized marijuana possession on December 15, 2016. Voters strongly supported a legalization ballot initiative with fairly generous personal possession limits. It is still illegal to sell marijuana until licensed retail shops finally open sometime in 2018.

But the police will still arrest you for distribution or intent to distribute if they suspect you of selling even tiny amounts of weed. Call us to speak with an attorney who knows Massachusetts marijuana laws if you are charged with a crime related to marijuana possession.

Massachusetts Marijuana Possession Laws – What’s Legal?

  • You have up to an ounce of dried marijuana on your person out in public, or up to 5 grams of cannabis concentrate (aka THC oil, BHO, wax, shatter)
  • You can grow up to 6 plants per person in your home or on your property, up to 12 per household
  • You can give away up to an ounce of weed at any time

Marijuanparaphernaliaia laws in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, it’s no longer illegal to possess or sell marijuana paraphernalia. Previously, smoke shops had to pretend they were selling pipes, bowls and bongs for “tobacco use only”. Now that marijuana possession is legal, retailers can openly talk about what people actually use these devices for.

Massachusetts Marijuana Possession Penalties

People who possess more than one ounce of marijuana in public still face a civil citation, but not a criminal charge.

The penalty for an adult is a $100 fine; minors under the age of 18 have to complete a drug awareness program instead of paying the fine. The court must notify the minor’s parents about this requirement.

If the minor fails to complete the program within one year of citation, he or she must pay a $1,000 fine, and the parents are also liable for this fine.

It is illegal to possess more than ten ounces of marijuana in Massachusetts, although the penalties are not clear. It is likely you’ll be facing an intent to distribute charge for any quantity that large that exceeds the allowed amount, even in your home.

In addition, cops will be cracking down on any black market cultitvation and selling. There will be criminal charges for people exceeding the legal grow limits.

Intent to Sell Marijuana

The penalties for possession with intent to sell in Massachusetts depend on how much marijuana the defendant had in his or her possession at the time of arrest. This crime is a felony unless the defendant had less than 50 pounds of marijuana in his or her possession. Possession of less than 50 pounds of marijuana with intent to sell is a misdemeanor that can require the defendant to spend up to 2 1/2 years in jail and pay a fine of up to $10,000, depending on whether it is his or her first offense.

Felony possession to sell can send a person to prison for up to 15 years, depending on the amount he or she had in possession, and the defendant may have to pay a fine of up to $200,000. If the defendant was selling marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school or 100 feet of a park, he or she may receive up to 10 more years in prison and an additional fine of up to $10,000 on top of his or her sentence for possession with intent to sell.

It is also illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana in Massachusetts; however, drivers cannot be compelled to give a blood or urine sample like they can if suspected of drunk driving. If convicted of drugged driving, a person can be sentenced to house arrest for 30 months and have to pay a fine in addition to losing his or her license for a year. Subsequent offenses cause the person to have to go to jail for 60 days to 5 years and lose his or her license for up to 8 years.

Massachusetts Medical Marijuana

Legislation for medical marijuana use in Massachusetts passed via voter ballot initiative in 2012. The first legal dispensaries started to finally open in 2015 and many more opened in 2016.

Medical personnel and their patients can get registration cards showing they have the right to cultivate or possess marijuana for medical purposes. It is also illegal to discriminate against people who have medical marijuana cards in housing, employment or education.

Legal Defenses

Since actual marijuana-related criminal charges remaining on the books are all fairly serious now, you need serious legal advice with any charge.

If you are charged with intent to distribute or sell, or illegal cultivation, you are facing serious felonies.

But because the decriminalization quantities are so generous (up to 10 ounces in your home), there are opportunities to argue that whatever you had was for legal personal use, and that any alleged distribution was a misunderstanding.

All cases are different, and Massachusetts has some unique laws surrounding probable cause for search based on the odor alone, so the legal situation can get complicated pretty quickly. It is worth a conversation with a lawyer in the case of any criminal charge.