Over the past decade cannabis laws have been changing across the country and right here in Massachusetts. How have these laws shifted and how could this impact you if you choose to possess and use marijuana? Let’s take a closer look at this issue from a legal standpoint. 

On November 8, 2016, Massachusetts voters approved Question 4, the historic ballot initiative that ended cannabis prohibition for adults 21 and older. As a result, cannabis became legal for adults to grow and possess in Massachusetts on December 15, 2016. (Source: Mass.gov) What does this mean for the average resident of Massachusetts and what parameters does this legal change have in regard to marijuana?

Possession, Use & Parifinalian Laws in Massachusetts

Marijuana and hashish are considered Class D Substances in Massachusetts. It is not a crime to possess about an ounce (under 30 grams) of marijuana in Massachusetts. 

In the state of Massachusetts, those who are considered adults (21 years and older) may legally possess and use marijuana. A person does not have to be a Massachusetts resident to buy marijuana, but they must show a government ID. 


An individual may possess up to 1 ounce of weed and up to 5 grams of marijuana concentrate outside of a home or in your vehicle, as long as it’s kept in a closed and sealed container or a locked trunk. 

Public & Private Use 

Public use of marijuana in Massachusetts is strictly prohibited. Massachusetts General Law states: “No person shall consume marijuana in a public place or smoke marijuana where smoking tobacco is prohibited. A person who violates this subsection shall be punished by a civil penalty of not more than $100.” Additionally, driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal.

However, an individual may use it on their own property or on the property of another person who has granted permission. 


An adult (over the age of 18) may buy and use marijuana paraphernalia.

marijuana seedling

What Is Considered Illegal? 

Marijuana, while legal in Massachusetts in some respects, still has conditions. The following is a partial list of situations where marijuana use, possession, distribution, and cultivation are prohibited. 

  • Possession of more than an ounce in the home is prohibited. The first offense may result in a misdemeanor charge, 6 months of incarceration, and a $500 fine. Subsequent charges could result in up to 2 years in jail and a $2000 maximum fine. 
  • Distributing marijuana charges are often felonies depending upon the amount (over 50lbs), where it was distributed (near a school), and to whom it was distributed (under age). 
  • Individuals may cultivate up to 6 plants but they may not be visible from a public space or there will be fines and a civil penalty attached. 
  • Selling to someone under 18 years of age is a felony and can come with consequences of 3-5 in prison and/or a $5000 maximum fine. 
  • Driving under the influence of marijuana.

If you have been charged with a cannabis crime or another drug violation contact us for thorough and professional legal assistance at Patrick Conway Law Office.