Published in the December 23, 2016 edition
MELROSE — With the legalization of recreational and commercial marijuana now in effect in Massachusetts, Chief Michael L. Lyle and the Melrose Police Department would like to provide community members with guidelines as to what has changed and what is the same under the new law.
Law enforcement agencies statewide received guidance on Wednesday, Dec. 14 from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and Secretary Daniel Bennett.
“While recreational use of marijuana is now legal in the state, there are certainly guidelines that accompany this new law that must be followed,” Chief Lyle said. “In instances involving minors, the drug remains decriminalized and consumption for those 21 and older is prohibited in public places and at schools.”
As of Thursday, Dec. 15:
• A person age 21 or older may legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana outside their primary residence.
• A person age 21 or older may possess up to 5 grams of marijuana concentrate (such as cannabis oil).
• No civil penalties or tickets may be issued for legal possession of marijuana or marijuana concentrate by those age 21 or older.
• Police may not seize lawful quantities of marijuana or marijuana concentrate
• For persons between the ages of 18-21, marijuana possession remains decriminalized, and police may levy a civil penalty of $100.
• For persons under age 18, possession remains decriminalized, but juveniles in possession will be subject to a civil penalty of $100 and will be required to complete a drug awareness program or face a penalty of up to $1,000. (Parents may be held liable for the penalties.)
• Marijuana is still not allowed on the grounds of a public or private school.
• A person age 21 or older may possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana inside their primary residence. (Only one primary residence is allowed per person.)
• A person age 21 or older may grow/cultivate up to six marijuana plants OR a single residence, consisting of two or more people over age 21, may cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants if at least two people in the household are engaged in growing activity there.
• For example: In the case of households with two roommates, if one roommate wants to grow marijuana but the other does not wish to engage in the cultivation of marijuana, the other roommate may only grow six plants, not 12.
• Any person who exceeds the cultivation limits without a license from the Cannabis Control Commission, may be subject to civil fines for seven to 12 plants or criminal prosecution of a single person if that person exceeds 12 plants.
• A person age 21 or older may give under one ounce of marijuana to another person age 21 or older.
• Unlicensed selling or trading remains a criminal offense
• Sale of marijuana paraphernalia, such as bongs or pipes, to a person age 21 or older, is legal.
• Sale of marijuana paraphernalia, such as bongs or pipes, to a person between the ages of 18-20 remains a misdemeanor, while sale to minors remains a felony.
• A person under age 21 who purchases or attempts to purchase marijuana paraphernalia, is subject to a civil penalty of $100, but not criminal charges.
• It remains a crime to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of ANY drugs, including marijuana.
• Public consumption of marijuana is prohibited, unless used for medical purposes.
• Consumption of marijuana in any place that bans the use of tobacco (bars, restaurants, etc.) is prohibited.
• No person may possess an “open container” of marijuana in a motor vehicle.
• Additionally, marijuana remains illegal under federal law and inside federal parks, buildings and facilities.
Anyone with questions on the new law can contact the Melrose Police Department at 781-665-1212.