Smoke and Mirrors: Reflecting on Massachusetts’ Marijuana Law

As of January 1, 2017, marijuana is legal in Massachusetts.

Marijuana Legalization in Massachusetts: Exploring the New Law

Although there are a number of aspects of marijuana’s legalization throughout the state that will be worked out as time progresses, adults over the age of 21 will be legally allowed to possess, use and home-grow marijuana. Massachusetts joins Colorado, Washington, and five other states in the United States that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

Even though marijuana is legal in the state, there are some legal aspects of which you need to be aware:

  • Although marijuana possession is legal statewide, it remains a federal crime. Marijuana cannot be brought across state lines, sent by U.S. mail or used on federal property.
  • Selling marijuana is a crime both federally and statewide. Although the possession of marijuana is now legal, there is no legal way to purchase it in the state yet. At best, state regulations will be solidified and retail locations will begin operation mid-2018. Until then, users’ only options are to use their homegrown products. You may give and receive small amounts from other adults, but exchanging money for marijuana remains illegal.
  • Driving while under the influence of marijuana is a crime. Although there is no way to yet test drivers on the spot for driving under the influence, it is best to avoid the practice for your safety and for the safety of those around you.
  • Marijuana is only legal in the home and in private spaces. Possession is legal; however, you are not able to smoke marijuana in public like you would a cigarette. You also cannot use it while driving, as marijuana cannot be kept in a motor vehicle, except in the trunk or a locked glove compartment. If you are growing it at home, the marijuana must be kept discrete. It may not be visible from the street or public areas, and must be cultivated in a secure location. You must also abide by the rules of your rental agreement: if your landlord has prohibited smoking, tobacco and marijuana smoke are treated the same.

As with all new laws, there will be a period of adjustment for citizens, law enforcement, and elected officials, where the law will continue to evolve and change to best suit the interests of everyone in the state. If done well, the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts could prove to be as successful and profitable as it has been in Washington and Colorado, which have both seen more than $250 million for the state through excise taxes.

As Massachusetts continues to explore and enact the successful implementation of marijuana’s legalization throughout the state, Kiley Law Group will continue to monitor developments. Although there is no way to completely prevent accidents that may occur, knowledge of the law may be one of the best methods to keep our community safe.