Information About the Massachusetts' Marijuana Laws
Many can be confused about what is legal and what is not when it comes to pot. Here is some basic information about marijuana law.
In the state of Massachusetts, the decriminalization of marijuana doesn’t necessarily mean that pot is now legal. In November 2008, Massachusetts voters passed into law the decriminalization of marijuana; since January 2009, having an ounce or less of pot is a $100 ticket.
As in the recent case of a Watertown man who was caught with a briefcase of marijuana, the new law need not apply.
According to Boxborough resident Michael Reinhardt, from the Law Offices of Reinhardt & Reinhardt, this fairly new law could be confusing to a lot of people.
“I specialize in criminal defense and I get a lot of high school-age kids, some who are facing serious charges of drug dealing and they were all using the same phrase with me, but I thought it was legal,” said Reinhardt. “There has been cases where kids have shared some marijuana with other kids and under the law that can be considered distribution, which can create very serious penalties.”
Reinhardt said he got inspired with this particular issue not only because he wants to inform the youth but also because he has a young daughter in high school that he wants to be well informed about the new marijuana law. Since last spring, Reinhardt has been presenting and handing out a PowerPoint presentation about the law to various organizations and schools.
The Massachusetts Pot law:
Possession of 1 Ounce or Less:
- 1 ounce or less is a $100 ticket.
- Under 18 years of age: $100 fine and the completion of a drug awareness program – and if the program is not completed within a year, the fine could increase to $1,000.
Possession of More than 1 Ounce:
- 1st offense is a misdemeanor, $500 fine and probation or DYS (Department of Youth Services).
- 2nd offense is a misdemeanor, $500 fine, 6 months incarceration and probation.
Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence of Pot:
- If proven guilty – OUI.
Distribution of Pot:
- Money does not need to be exchanged for it to be considered intent to distribute (i.e. sharing a joint, sharing a bag).
- To be considered intent to distribute is based on the amount, the packaging and several other factors (i.e. having the pot in separate bags).
Pot in a School Zone:
- Even if school is not in session, possession with the intent to sell is a mandatory jail sentence for anyone 17 or older.
“So many people (kids more so) believe this myth that marijuana is legal, and I had this idea to put together a PowerPoint presentation to set the myth straight about - anything goes with pot,” said Reinhardt. “I am in favor of the theory that something like marijuana won’t derail a kids future now, but I think it is important to understand the potential significant consequences that people need to be aware of.”
Follow Acton Patch for more on this issue, especially in regard to local schools and police.