Is Weed Legal in Massachusetts?

The purchase, possession and use of recreational and medical marijuana possession in limited amounts along with purchasing certain accessories have been legal in Massachusetts since 2014. Medical marijuana has been legal in the state since 2016, when it became the first East Coast state to legalize it for this limited purpose. 

Although marijuana use and its sale had been illegal for decades throughout the U.S and has been misclassified according to many drug experts as a Schedule I narcotic, which is the same class as heroin, its use has been widespread. Whether you agree with or not with some who feel marijuana is a dangerous and addictive drug and can lead to use of harder or more dangerous drugs, it is undoubtedly here to stay for at least the immediate future.  Further, medical studies have demonstrated a number of benefits for marijuana use, though more studies need to be done regarding its long-term effects. 

How Much Marijuana Can You Possess?

You do not have the right to purchase or possess as much marijuana as you wish.  Buyers who are at least 21 years of age can only purchase weed at licensed dispensaries and must use cash or a debit card to buy these products.  Not every town or city allows the presence of dispensaries and those that do will limit the number of licenses it will grant. 

State law allows you to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, though you are permitted to have up to 10 ounces of the drug in your home.  Any amount of marijuana in your home that exceeds an ounce must be kept in a locked drawer or box.  You may also possess up to 5 ounces of marijuana concentrate, such as oils, on your person.  You are also permitted to give, but not sell to, another person of up to one ounce of marijuana.

You may also purchase and possess other marijuana products such as:

  • Concentrates or cannabis oils (tinctures)
  • Edibles
  • Topicals
  • Accessories (pipes)

You do need a government-issued ID such as a driver’s license to purchase marijuana at a dispensary.  Out-of-state residents can use their own state ID to purchase only recreational marijuana and products though they may not transport it across state lines. 

Another requirement is that if you have marijuana in your car, it must be out of sight and locked up in box, glove compartment, or your trunk.  However, if the “seal” on the package that was purchased at the dispensary is broken, it must be sealed.  In other words, if you are transporting marijuana, edibles, or concentrate in your car, be sure it is locked away and out-of-sight. 

Similar to alcohol laws, you may not smoke or ingest weed while driving.  Also, Massachusetts law does not permit an officer to search you or your vehicle if the officer notes the odor of marijuana, nor can the officer detain you.  Be aware, though, that you can be charged with driving under the influence of drugs, including marijuana, if the officer has probable cause to stop your vehicle and to charge you based on other indicia that you may be under the influence while driving. Further, if you are in an accident, any and all information that a police officer, or witness states about the at fault driver’s use of marijuana, will be used to show the driver was under the influence.  

You are also allowed to grow a limited amount of marijuana. You must be 21 years of age and can grow up to 6 plants in your home or up to 12 plants if more than one adult is residing there. The plants can only be grown in a room or space that is not visible from the outside and be locked up or has some other type of security device.

Where Can You Use Marijuana?

Under state law, you may be able to smoke or ingest edibles at dispensaries if the municipality where it is located allows it.  You cannot smoke or ingest marijuana in a public setting or smoke anywhere where tobacco smoking is prohibited. 

Penalties for Unlawful Possession or Sale of Marijuana 

There are various fines for violating the state’s marijuana laws:

  1. If you grow marijuana in your home but not in a locked or secured space that is visible to the public, the fine is up to $300 and forfeiture of the plants
  2. If you possess more than 1 ounce of marijuana and failed to secure it, the fine is up to $100 and forfeiture of the marijuana
  3. Cultivating more than 6 plants but less than 12 (only 1 adult in the home), you are subject to a $100 fine and forfeiture of the marijuana. 
  4. Smoking or consuming marijuana in a public space or unauthorized area is a fine up to $300. This does not apply to consumption of medical marijuana.
  5. Having an open container of marijuana in your vehicle can result in a fine up to $500.
  6. Giving marijuana to a person under the age of 21 can result in a fine up to $2,000 and/or up to one year in jail.
  7. The fines and penalties for possessing, cultivating, or trafficking in large quantities of marijuana can result in much larger fines and mandatory minimum prison sentences depending on the quantity. 

Marijuana Use in Auto Accident Injury Claims

There is no doubt that being under the influence of marijuana can impair your judgment while operating machinery or driving a motor vehicle.  While Massachusetts does not quantify the amount of cannabis in your bloodstream that makes it illegal for you to drive, officers often use other tools to ascertain whether a driver who has been detained for causing an accident or who was stopped for a traffic violation is under the influence.  Witnesses too can testify as to the apparent influence marijuana had on the negligent driver.

If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident where the other involved motorist was deemed under the influence, this can usually settle the issue of liability if it was contested.  For example, if there is a dispute over who had the right-of-way, or who had the green light, the account of a motorist who was under the influence will generally not be deemed credible.

If a driver, passenger, or pedestrian suffered fatal injuries in an accident caused by someone under the influence of marijuana, the personal injury attorney representing the estate or family of the deceased may allege punitive or exemplary damages.  These are permitted by a court if the defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent or exhibited a willful or reckless disregard for the safety of others.  Usually, the conduct must be more than just being under the influence and be accompanied by reckless conduct such as driving at a high rate of speed, fleeing a police officer, leaving the scene of a serious or fatal accident, or recklessly weaving in and out of traffic.

Retain a Personal Injury Attorney from Burns and Jain

Motorists, passengers, or pedestrians injured by a driver who was under the influence of marijuana can suffer catastrophic injuries as well as present issues of liability and damages that only an experienced personal injury attorney should handle. Call the law office of Burns and Jain at (617) 227-7423 for a free consultation about your injury claim.

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