Marijuana possession is officially legal in Massachusetts. You are legally allowed to carry up to an ounce on your person and have up to 10 ounces in your home. And even if you exceed those amounts, in theory, the worst case is that you might get the excess confiscated or receive a ticket if you are under 21.
But in practice, you can and will still get arrested or receive a criminal citation for intent to distribute a Class D substance (marijuana) if you have a lot of weed on you. Particularly if it is in multiple packages that the cops can claim is for purposes of”sale”.
Since the only circumstances where it is still possible to get criminal marijuana possession charges in Massachusetts is for selling it, cops may see this where it doesn’t exist. And if you are being charged or investigated for a marijuana offense of intent to distribute or sell, that is still quite scary. Cops are absolutely still looking to bust alleged “dealers”. And the market for buyers will continue to exist until retail shops open in 2018, and maybe after.
If you are facing marijuana or drug charges and need help—I can be there for you. Contact me today for a free consultation.
In November 2016, Massachusetts voters passed a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana.
As of 12/15/16, possession of up to one ounce of dried marijuana on your person at any time will be legal. Marijuana paraphernalia is also legal now. So you can buy, use, and say the words “bong” with impunity, and not have to pretend that these devices are for tobacco. Of course, if you are smoking other, more serious drugs, then paraphernalia laws still apply.
But there will still be marijuana criminal charges, including selling it illegally (anything other than a legal medical dispensary, until pot shops open in 2018), possessing it if you are under 21, growing too many plants, and more. And “driving while high” will remain a crime, and cops may start to push that if you are stopped with weed in your car.
When is Marijuana Possession Still Illegal in Massachusetts?
- If you are under 21 it is still not “legal” to have marijuana, but decriminalization laws are still in effect. The penalty is a civil ticket but also a required drug education program.
- Civil, decriminalization penalties also remain in effect for having weed on school property.
- If you have more than an ounce, that is a civil charge (if you don’t have a medical marijuana card) of a fine of up to $100, and subject to confiscation of the amount more than an ounce.
- If you have an unsealed package of weed in your car, you could be cited for “open container”.
- If you are under 21 and have more than one ounce, that is still an actual criminal charge under MGL § C. 94C Section 34.
- If you sell marijuana, that’s a criminal distribution charge.
Marijuana Cultivation (Growing) Laws Under Legalization
You are allowed to legally grow up to 6 plants in your home, and up to 12 marijuana plants per household, if there is more than one adult residing there.
However, you can be prosecuted for growing more plants.
In addition, you can only grow in your own home or yard. Growing in a storage area, a business location, or anyplace that is not your primary residence is still illegal.
MGL § C. 94C Section 34C
The police are threatening me with serious drug charges (distribution or conspiracy). What can I do?
We’ve received a lot of these calls, and it’s scary to be threatened by the police over a little bit of weed, but it absolutely happens.
We have had clients threatened into becoming drug informants, or they would be charged with felonies.
We have had calls from people being threatened with criminal conspiracy to violate drug laws. Even when the person had as little as a single gram of marijuana in their possession. The courts have ruled that simply purchasing a controlled substance from an alleged “dealer” is not evidence that you are part of a “conspiracy” if there is no evidence that you agreed to distribute to others. But cops will still sometimes charge this, or threaten you with these charges.
Almost all the time, these threats by the police are empty, misguided, and cruel. Please call us for help in working through this stressful legal situation.
Massachusetts Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession
This section is obsolete. It is unlikely that you can be charged with a misdemeanor marijuana offense after legalization. But it is possible that the legislature will new laws and restrictions.
For now, however, anything you can be charged with as a crime relating to marijuana is probably a felony-level offense. Selling, cultivating, trafficking, etc.
If you are found with more than one ounce, you will face criminal charges for Possession of a Class D Substance. Other Class D substances include hashish.
Possession of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor. You will face up to 6 months in jail and a $500 fine.
If this is your first offense, of possession of more than an ounce, you may be able to get an alternative disposition called continuance without finding or CWOF. A CWOF requires that you successfully serve a 6-month probation period, after which the case is dismissed and doesn’t appear on your record.
You may also quite likely be accused of intent to distribute if you are in possession of more than an ounce without a medical marijuana card.
Sale of Marijuana – Massachusetts Marijuana Distribution Charge
If you are accused of a more serious marijuana charge, like distributing, you will face a misdemeanor charge if the amount in question is less than 50 pounds. This misdemeanor, however, carries the potential of 2.5 years in jail.
If this is your first such offense, you may be able to serve probation in lieu of jail time, however.
As the amount of marijuana in question increases so do the penalties. Things like being near a school or park can also boost the penalties quite dramatically.
Ref: MGL § C. 94C
Facing marijuana charges may seem like a minor offense, but the effects of a conviction can be long term. You can’t afford to take these charges lightly. You need an aggressive lawyer working on your behalf.
Contact me immediately to discuss the case in detail and to get some legal advice on a criminal marijuana possession charge in Massachusetts.