O, Cannabis: Can I Give You Some Weed? and Other Important Questions

Recreational marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts on Dec. 15, 2016, but the state is in a legal gray area right now as a system to sell weed is established. The consumption of recreational marijuana is now legal, but the sale of recreational marijuana isn’t yet. That’s quite the conundrum. State lawmakers recently pushed back the open date of recreational marijuana retailers by six months, from January 2018 to July 2018, extending the state of this hazy limbo. Daniel Bennett sent a memo from the executive office of public safety and security to the Massachusetts State Police explaining in detail what’s legal and what’s not when it comes to pot. Below are some answers, from Bennett, to some of the pressing cannabis questions still hanging around, like a bong cloud that won’t dissipate.

How much weed can I have in my house?

Under state law, an individual over the age of 21 can legally have an ounce or less of marijuana on her or his person while out and about. At a person’s “primary” residence, however, she can keep up to 10 ounces of bud, up to 5 grams of concentrate (such as cannabis oil), and 12 plants (six plants if there’s only one person age 21 or older in the home). Any hint that the stash is going to be sold, gifted (at quantities greater than an ounce), or transferred to anyone under 21, and you could face criminal charges. Growing more than 12 plants could also get you charged criminally. Marijuana over an ounce has to be kept under lock and key. Violators face $100 fines and cannabis forfeiture.

What if I get busted with more than an ounce on me?

If you’re carrying less than two ounces, you will receive a fine of no more than $100. If you have more than that, you’ve crossed into criminal territory and could face jail time. If you have between one and two ounces of weed on you outside your primary residence, a police officer can only confiscate the excess marijuana. That means if you get busted with two ounces on you, the police can only take one ounce.

What if someone under 21 gets busted?

Since marijuana was decriminalized in 2008, the penalties for juvenile possession haven’t changed. If a person caught with marijuana is between 18 and 20, they will trade their marijuana for a $100 fine. Those under 18 will have their weed confiscated and have to attend a juvenile drug awareness program.

Can landlords evict over weed?

Yes. The tenants of a rented, private residence have to abide by the rules of the landlord. Check your lease agreement for details. Public housing is more strict. State and local authorities can prohibit possession of marijuana within city halls, schools, police stations, and public housing facilities.

Where can I smoke weed?

In your home or in the home of a person who is cool with it. Under the new law, all public consumption of non-medical marijuana is illegal. Non-public smoking of marijuana is also prohibited where tobacco smoking is prohibited, i.e. parks, restaurants, and clubs.

Can I smoke weed in my car?

Nah. Marijuana cannot be readily accessible in the passenger area of a motor vehicle while that vehicle is on a public way — whether it’s moving or not. Marijuana in a car must be in a sealed container or otherwise secured in the vehicle’s trunk or locked glove compartment. If it isn’t, the driver could face a $500 fine. If an officer observes someone driving around smoking a joint, he can lawfully make a motor vehicle stop. Operating under the influence of marijuana, or any drug or alcohol, is still a criminal offense in Massachusetts.

Can I grow weed in the woods?

No. If you grow anywhere but your primary residence, you’re on the wrong side of the law.

Are there laws on how to grow legally?

Indeed! Home cultivation must be conducted in a manner that is not visible from a public place like the sidewalk without the use of aircraft, binoculars, or other optical aids. Marijuana plants must be secured under lock and key. Break these rules and you face losing your plants and paying a $300 fine. You will not, however, be subject to criminal prosecution.

Can I give the gift of weed?

Yes, as long as it’s truly a gift. Cash or any other form of compensation for the nugz at the point of the gift or weeks later is illegal. Also, your gift has to be of an ounce or less.

Are Donald Trump and the GOP going to mess up legal weed for us?

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, so yes, the government could change its position on medical and recreational marijuana. Obama’s approach had been hands-off. In the 2013 “Cole” memo, the DOJ wrote that marijuana distribution conducted with a “strong and effective state regulatory system” should be a low priority for federal enforcement officials. Trump has said both that marijuana should be illegal and that the feds shouldn’t get involved with marijuana legalization, as he sees it as a state’s rights issue. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for Attorney General, said he would “never not” enforce federal law when it comes to cannabis, but that the federal government needs to spend its resources wisely. While I can’t predict the future, I can say as a “known pot smoker” that I’m not worried about Trump going to war over the sanctity of state’s rights.

Kristin’s not here, man, but you can reach her at editor@valleyadvocate.com.

Kristin Palpini

Author: Kristin Palpini

Editor of the Valley Advocate

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