2017 Massachusetts Marijuana Laws and Penalties

Massachusetts_Marijuana_By Lukasz Stefanski
Photo by: By Lukasz Stefanski/ Shutterstock

Massachusetts Question 4, also known as the Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative, was on the ballot November 8th, 2016, and passed by fifty-four percent for recreational marijuana. It was a huge step up from their very small medical marijuana program, and allowed for adults aged 21 and over who are not participating in the medical marijuana program to legally grow and possess recreational marijuana while simultaneously licensing commercial cannabis production and retail sales.

If you’re a Massachusetts resident aged 21 or over, you are allowed to buy recreational marijuana at a 3.75 percent sales tax. Residents and city-wide governments also have the power to determine whether or not they will allow recreational marijuana in their jurisdiction, meaning that localities have the authority to regulate, limit, or prohibit the operation of marijuana businesses.

The Massachusetts recreational marijuana plan has finally taken effect in December 2016. If you’re a Massachusetts resident, you’re probably curious about your rights. What can you do and what can’t you do? Here’s what we know:

Possession

Massachusetts Marijuana Laws logo leafbuyer blogThe possession laws in Massachusetts are very detailed and descriptive. It get’s a little sticky if you’re possessing more marijuana than you can smoke, however, because they’ll stick you with a possession with intent to distribute charge, which can have some pretty heavy fines.

You can legally possess up to one ounce of recreational marijuana at a time. If you’re caught with over an ounce, you’ll be given a misdemeanor, a $500 fine, and up to 6 months in prison. If you get caught with more than an ounce a second time, you can expect the fine to go up to $2000, and spend up to 2 years in prison.

If you’re caught with pounds of weed, you’ll get stuck with an intent to distribute charge, which comes with even heftier fines and longer prison sentences.

If you have less than 50 pounds of weed, you can expect a fine between $5,000 and $10,000 and up to 2.5 years in prison. 50 to 99 pounds of weed will get you a felony, as well as a $10,000 fine and between 1-15 years in prison. If you have between 100 and 1,999 pounds of weed, you’ll receive a felony charge, a minimum of 2 years in prison (up to 15 years!), and a $25,000 fine. 2,000 pounds of weed up to 9,999 pounds of weed will land you a felony, a minimum of 3.5 years in prison (up to 15), and a $50,000 fine.

If you’re caught with more than 10,000 pounds of weed you’re getting a felony, a minimum of 8 years in prison, and a $200,000 fine. You can also get in major trouble if you’re caught carrying weed within 300 feet of a school, or within 100 feet of a public park.

Being close to these areas even if your weed is stored in a backpack or something will earn you a felony, a minimum of 2 years in prison, and a $10,000 fine. If you sell to a minor or contribute to the delinquency of a minor, you’ll earn another felony, a minimum of 5 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Moral of the story: Keep it under an ounce at all times, and don’t go near kids, schools, or parks while you’re carrying. Public use is NOT legal, so toke at home. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Cultivation

Adults aged 21 and over can cultivate their own recreational weed like we do here in Colorado. Massachusetts allows for 6 plants at a time, and the weed they produce. However, it’s important to be familiar with the possession laws.

You cannot have more than 6 plants at a time, as you will be producing more than an ounce at a time. Having more than 6 plants is an additional charge on your misdemeanor for possessing more than an ounce. So keep it simple! 6 plants at a time, and less than an ounce of weed.

Distribution

Unless you are a registered, licensed commercial cannabis grower who is providing cannabis to dispensaries, you are not allowed to distribute the cannabis you grow. Distributors must be registered with the state, which means paying a hefty application fee and an annual licensing fee. Producing commercial weed is tricky to do in Massachusetts, but it is possible.

For the average person though, no distribution. If you’re caught distributing up to 50 pounds of weed, you can expect to spend 6 months to 2.5 years in prison and a $5,000 to $10,000 fine. Distributing 50 to 99 pounds of weed will get you a felony, as well as a $10,000 fine and between 1-15 years in prison. If you are distributing between 100 and 1,999 pounds of weed, you’ll receive a felony charge, a minimum of 2 years in prison (up to 15 years!), and a $25,000 fine.

Distributing 2,000 pounds of weed up to 9,999 pounds of weed will land you a felony, a minimum of 3.5 years in prison (up to 15), and a $50,000 fine. If you’re caught selling more than 10,000 pounds of weed you’re getting a felony, a minimum of 8 years in prison, and a $200,000 fine.

You will also get in huge trouble if you’re caught selling or distributing weed within 300 feet of a school, or within 100 feet of a public park. Selling near these areas even as a small amount of weed will earn you a felony, a minimum of 2 years in prison, and a $10,000 fine. If you sell to a minor or contribute to the delinquency of a minor, you’ll earn another felony, a minimum of 5 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Moral of the story: Don’t sell weed unless you are licensed and registered to distribute with the state of Massachusetts.

Concentrates

Concentrates and Hash are legal and widely available in the recreational world of Massachusetts, but there are still laws in place. You can possess up to 5 grams of concentrates at any point in time, but anything more will earn you a fine and potentially jail time.

If you’re caught with 5 grams to an ounce of concentrates, you’ll get a civil offense and a $100 fine. More than an ounce will earn you a year in prison and up to a $1,000 fine.

This is all fine and well, a slap on the wrist really. The really heavy stuff comes with the manufacture and distribution of cannabis concentrates, which will earn you between 2 and 5 years in prison, and a $5,000 fine.

Again, don’t use minors for any reason. Manufacture and distribution to a minor will earn you a felony and 2-15 years in prison as well as a whopping $25,000 fine. Using a minor to manufacture concentrates will get you a felony, a minimum prison sentence of 5 years, and a $100,000 fine.

Paraphernalia

Head shop owners, this one is for you. Anyone over the age of 21 can purchase, possess and use marijuana paraphernalia like grinders, bongs, pipes, and more. You can sell to anyone over the age of 18. If you’re caught selling to anyone under the age of 18, you’ll get a felony, 3-5 years in prison, and a $5,000 fine.

Keep your paraphernalia in your home at all times. If you’re caught with dirty paraphernalia outside of your home, you can receive many additional charges, including DUIs and more.

Miscellaneous

Last but not least, there are two little pieces of information relating to recreational marijuana that you should know.

  1. You can’t lose your driving privileges if you’ve got an ounce or less of weed on you.
  2. Conspiracy to commit any marijuana-related offense is punishable by up to the maximum punishment.

That’s everything you need to know about the laws in Massachusetts. With this knowledge, we hope that you avoid committing any crimes. Enjoy your legal weed, Massachusetts!