In 2016, marijuana possession became legal throughout Massachusetts. This allows individuals to comfortably carry dried marijuana and any marijuana-related paraphernalia without fear. You are legally allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana on your person and store up to ten ounces in your home. In theory, if you exceed those limits, the worst-case scenario is that the excess is confiscated, or a civil ticket will be issued for anyone under 21 years of age.
While it is still illegal to smoke marijuana in public or on federal land, it will typically result in a fine and no jail time. This means that in Massachusetts, facing criminal marijuana possession charges will typically only occur for cultivation, trafficking, or distribution.
- Cultivating Marijuana
It is against the law to grow marijuana plants in amounts that exceed the limits set by the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. This allows individual adults to cultivate up to six plants in their home and up to 12 marijuana plants if there is more than one adult in the household. Moreover, you are only permitted to cultivate plants in your own residence or garden. This means that cultivating cannabis in areas such as storage facilities, commercial spaces, or city parks is still prohibited by law.
Violations involving possession of 50 pounds or less are penalized differently depending on whether it is a first or subsequent offense. For a first violation, one may have to pay up to $5,000 and face imprisonment for two years. If it is the second or subsequent offense, there could be harsher penalties in store, such as fines between $1,000 - $10,000 as well as possible incarceration up to two and a half years.
- Trafficking Marijuana
In Massachusetts, any individual found to be knowingly cultivating, selling, or importing over 50 pounds of marijuana from out-of-state will face consequences for “trafficking”. These penalties can range drastically depending on the quantity involved.
Section 32E states possession of:
- 50 – 99 pounds: Those found guilty of this offense shall face a minimum one-year sentence in the state prison or jail and may receive up to fifteen years imprisonment depending on severity. Additionally, a fine between $500 - $10,000 must be imposed alongside the mandatory yearlong sentence.
- 100 – 1,999 pounds: Violations of this offense will result in a minimum prison term of two years and a fine of no less than $2,500.
- 2,000 – 9,999 pounds: Any person found in violation of this section will be sentenced to a state prison term ranging from three and a half to 15 years and fined between $5,000 - $50,000. However, the minimum imprisonment must not be less than three and a half years without exception.
- 10,000 pounds or more: Those found guilty of this offense shall face a minimum prison term of eight years with a maximum sentence of 15 years. This is in addition to paying anywhere between $20,000 and $200,000 in fines.
- Distributing (Selling) Marijuana
Only licensed dispensaries are allowed to legally sell and distribute marijuana. Penalties for distributing marijuana are similar to that of cultivation and will be dependent on both the number of offenses and the amount found. Someone could also face an additional felony charge if they are caught selling within a 300-foot radius of a school or a 100-foot radius of a public park.
However, it must be noted that law enforcement officers do have discretion when determining whether an individual has intent to distribute marijuana; even with less than 10 ounces present. If there is evidence that multiple packages exist along with other indications of sale or distribution—such as scales, large amounts of cash, or witness testimony—an arrest might still ensue.
Have You or a Loved One Been Arrested for Marijuana Possession?
If you or someone you love has been charged with illegal cultivation, trafficking, or distribution, it’s important to choose a trial-tested attorney that understands the intricacies of drug-related crimes. At Brad Bailey Law, our defense attorneys have over 35 years of experience, and we will work tirelessly to protect your future. Our legal team will comb over every aspect of your case to craft a thorough and aggressive defense.
Call our skilled attorneys today at (617) 500-0252.