Massachusetts recreational marijuana law now in effect

The law went into effect Thursday at midnight.

One Ounce Marijuana
People at least 21 years of age will be able to posses up to one ounce of marijuana. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick/The Westfield News)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Adults in Massachusetts can now legally possess, grow, and use limited amounts of recreational marijuana.

The state’s new marijuana law went into effect Thursday at midnight. It means anyone who is 21 years-old can now legally smoke marijuana in Massachusetts.

There are, however, still many questions about the law including: Where can I buy it?

Marijuana retail stores can’t open for at least another year, which means in many ways the state is entering into a legal “gray zone.” Even though users can now purchase, possess and grow marijuana, the people they’re buying it from will still technically be breaking the law by selling the drug. The delay in store openings is due to the fact that state lawmakers still have to create a three member cannabis control commission. The commission will be in charge of reviewing retail applications and giving licenses to these types of pot shops.

Anyone who gets caught selling marijuana outside of the regulated market will have to pay a $5,000 fine and go to jail for up to 2 years.

The other big question: What does the law allow?

The law allows possession of up to 10 ounces in the home, but only up to one ounce once you leave the house. Anyone found carrying more than an ounce of marijuana will face a $100 fine.

Residents can grow up to six marijuana plants inside their homes. If two or more adults live in the home, however, the law allows for up to 12 marijuana plants to be grown inside. These plants cannot be seen from the street or any public area. It is important to keep in mind that landlords have the last say and are allowed to prohibit residents from growing plants.

Smokers will be prohibited from using marijuana in places that already ban smoking. Similar to alcohol, open containers of marijuana will not be allowed in the car and although there is no way to test for it — it remains illegal to drive while high on marijuana.

The state’s Secretary of Public Safety Daniel Bennett sent police departments an eight page memo on Wednesday, explaining the challenges they could face when enforcing the new law.

“Within certain limits, the new law authorizes conduct that had previously been prohibited,” Bennett said. “Beyond those limits, however, possession, cultivation and distribution of marijuana will remain illegal under state law.”

Massachusetts isn’t the only state that’s been forced into a legal gray area due to marijuana legalization. Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012 but retail marijuana stores didn’t open until the beginning of 2014.