Amiea Eleban

Massachusetts voters passed a ballot initiative that decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana on November 4, 2008. The Massachusetts Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative made the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana punishable by a fine of $100 without the possessor being reported to the state’s criminal history board.

Massachusetts became the 18th state in the country to allow medical marijuana use.

On November 6, 2012, 63% of Massachusetts voters approved Question 3, the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative. The law took effect on January 1, 2013, eliminating criminal and civil penalties for the possessions and use of up to a 60-day supply of marijuana for patients possessing a state-issued registration card. With a recommendation by a physician, patients with cancer, glaucoma, and other medical conditions can receive a registration card.

Marijuana is now legal in Massachusetts for people 21 and older. Some basics about the law:

  • You can’t use marijuana in any form (smoking, vaping, edibles, etc.) in public or on federal land.
  • You can have up to one ounce on you and up to 10 ounces in your home.
  • You can grow up to six plants in your home, and up to 12 plants for two or more adults.
  • If you have more than one ounce of marijuana in your home, it must be locked away to keep kids and pets safe.
  • Like alcohol, you can’t have an open container of any form of marijuana in the passenger area of your car while on the road or at a place where people have access. It must be stored in a closed container in your trunk or a locked glove compartment.
  • It’s illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana. If you use, don’t get behind the wheel. Instead, use public transportation, ride-shares, or catch a ride with a sober friend.
  • Employers, landlords, cities, and towns may have their own policies about the use of marijuana.

For now, legal cannabis consumption is limited to private residence use. There have been discussions on whether the state will allow cannabis social lounges in the future, but lawmakers have decided to hold off for the time being.

What Massachusetts has done that puts it above other states is to educate their residents on the realities of what marijuana does (and doesn’t) do. The state officials have relaxed their taxes and not made laws that allow 20-35% taxes to be levied on their citizens thus forcing people to buy it from the black market. They also ensured that people were not made to feel like pariahs because they use marijuana. They considered where marijuana users could be a danger, like truck drivers, medical professionals and other professions that should not use on the job, but generally, Massachusetts really did a great job by keeping taxes reasonable and keeping an honest, open dialog with their residents.

And it’s working phenomenally.

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