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Massachusetts: Countdown to Legalization

December 14, 2016
Sailboats on the Charles River with Boston's Back Bay skyline in the background. Boston is the largest city in New England, the capital of the state of Massachusetts. Boston is known for its central role in American history,world-class educational institutions, cultural facilities, and champion sports franchises.
The countdown to legalization in Massachusetts is in its final hours, with Question 4 set to take effect Wednesday night at midnight. It’s the beginning of a lengthy process to get the state’s cannabis system up and running, and a number of parties are planned to mark the milestone.

You won’t be able to purchase cannabis at a shop or dispensary just yet. The way the law was drafted, retail cannabis shops won’t be open until January 2018 at the earliest. That adults who wish to possess cannabis legally will have to be careful about where they get it. Guidance from the state’s Executive Office of Public Safety and Security outlines the best practices for both consumers and law enforcement.


Massachusetts Just Legalized. Now What?

As Dec. 15, it will be legal for any adult 21 or over possess up to 10 ounces of cannabis in their primary residence and up to one ounce of cannabis in public. For those who prefer concentrates, adults may possess up to five grams of extract.

Possession remains illegal for individuals between 18 and 21, though offenders won’t face criminal penalties but instead a $100 civil citation due to the decriminalized status of cannabis. Minors found in possession of small amounts are subject to the $100 fine, as well, but would also need to complete a drug-awareness program.


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Have too much? Those found in possession of more than the legal limit are subject to a $100 civil fine  plus the seizure of the excess amount. For example, if an adult is found with two ounces of cannabis in public, law enforcement could seize the ounce above the legal limit—not the entire quantity.

For adults with a green thumb, home cultivation is legal for up to six plants, with no more than 12 plants per household. While it’s not clear how to legally obtain seeds, the ability to grow at home provides an alternative to buying from the black market. All cultivation must be inside a private residence and must not be visible to the general public.


The 5 Easiest Cannabis Strains to Grow for Beginners

Gifts of small amounts of cannabis are also permitted between adults, though no money may change hands.

For residents eager to ring in a new era for cannabis on the East Coast, there are a plethora of events to help you celebrate in style. Here are a few:

Ardent presents the End of Prohibition Celebration
The Tirrell Room 5 Star Event Facility
254 Quarry St.
Quincy, MA 02169
Thursday, December 15, 2016
6 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Cost: $20 – $150


America’s 2016 Cannabis Laws and Legalization State Map

The 2016 Merry Wanna Ball by MassCann/NORML
Disabled American Veterans Braintree DAV Chapter 29
788 Liberty St.
Braintree, MA 02184
Friday, December 16, 2016
8 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Donation: $30 – $50

Welcome to the wonderful world of cannabis legalization, Massachusetts! Celebrate and consume safely and responsibly. And don’t forget, #JustSayKnow.

Lisa Rough's Bio Image

Lisa Rough

Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.

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