Marijuana laws in Massachusetts categorize the drug as a class “D” controlled substance and it is illegal to possess, distribute or traffic. However, medical marijuana laws have changed recently, and certain patients are now legally allowed to posses and use specific amount of marijuana. As much as this area of the law continues to change, selling, distributing, or manufacture remains illegal.
Possession of Marijuana
Class D controlled substances are governed by M.G.L. 94C Sec. 32C, which says:
- Possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana is a violation that carries a fine of up to $100.
- Possessing more than an ounce of marijuana can garner the first time offender up to 6 months in jail with a fine of between $500 and $5,000.
- A second offense carries term of up to two and one-half years and up to a $10,000 fine.
Possession with the Intent to Distribute
The penalties for marijuana possession with the intent to distribute are more harsh then simple possession. You can be charged with intent to distribute based on the amount of marijuana you posses, the paraphernalia you have, and who you may have been associated with.
- For a first time offense, you will face up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $500.
- Those who are charged with a second or subsequent offense will face up to 2 ½ years in jail and fines of up to $10,000.
- Those who have been convicted of intent to distribute offenses will also lose their driver’s license for two years.
Medical Marijuana Regulations
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) drafted the legislation regarding the sale, distribution, and use of medical marijuana.
The Massachusetts Public Health Council unanimously approved the regulations, saying they “reflect a balanced approach that will provide appropriate access to patients, while maintaining a secure system that keeps our communities safe,” the Boston Daily reported Interim DPH Commission Dr. Lauren Smith as saying.
Some of the approved medical marijuana regulations include –
- Requiring medical marijuana treatment centers, which the DPH now calls Registered Marijuana Dispensaries (RMD) and the non-profit organization that runs them, to operate, cultivate, and dispense from their own facilities.
- Allowing patients to choose which RMD they purchase from, as patients are only provided access to one RMD
- Minimizing home cultivation by providing discounted rates for low-income patients, and home delivery when warranted
- Allowing physicians with patients who have serious conditions to determine the need for medical marijuana
- Allowing patients up to 10 ounces of marijuana for a 60-day supply
- Prohibiting edible marijuana products from resembling candy
Other regulations include limiting advertising that would encourage recreation use of marijuana, the establishment of municipal oversight of RMDs, requiring quality assurance and contaminate testing, limiting youth and pediatric access, and requiring a bona-fide physician and patient relationship in which the physician has an ongoing role in patient treatment and care.
These regulations and rule went into effect on May 24, however, the licensing process for marijuana dispensaries is estimated to begin later this year.