Although legal marijuana will officially be a thing in Massachusetts later this week, it is still going to be at least another year and half before the average adult citizen can just walk into a local pot shop and purchase cannabis products in a manner similar to beer.
This means unless a person is a medical marijuana patient registered with the state, there is not going to be any legitimate opportunities to buy marijuana until the state launches the recreational sector sometime in 2018.
However, as of Thursday, Massachusetts residents 21 and over will have the freedom to carry up to an ounce of marijuana on them outside the home without fear of a law enforcement shakedown. Those same people will also be permitted to keep up to 10 ounces of weed inside the home and discreetly cultivate up to 12 plants per private household.
Unfortunately, renters will be challenged in both smoking and growing marijuana because most rental agreements do not permit those activities.
In order to prevent the marijuana masses from shoving money into the mouth of the black market, the new law comes with a “gift” provision, which makes it perfectly acceptable for an adult to transfer up to an ounce of weed to another adult consumer. But this act must be a cash free transaction, as paying for weed in Massachusetts until the retail pot shops are up and running is still considered a criminal offense.
At the same time, while the people of Massachusetts are almost certainly gearing up for the first weekend of legal weed, it is important to understand that the system is not rooted in anarchist principles and it does come with a rather extensive list of common sense rules that have been modeled in the image of the state’s alcohol and tobacco laws.
The new law does not give people permission to smoke marijuana on the street, nor does it change anything with respect to the laws against drugged driving. So, while the police will no longer be able to drag a person to jail for simply having pot in the vehicle (locked in the trunk or glove compartment only), there is nothing stopping them from conducting roadside sobriety tests in an attempt to bust a motorist for driving high.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of Massachusetts’s new marijuana law is that it does not allow people to transport legal pot products across state lines. This is because marijuana remains highly illegal in the eyes of the federal government, which makes traveling from, say, Massachusetts to New York with marijuana a crime known as drug trafficking – a felony offense that carries the potential for some serious prison time.
Other legal states, like Colorado and Washington, went through similar grey periods with respect to legal weed. But some of the confusion will start to clear up as soon as the state gets the regulatory affairs of the cannabis industry worked out and the herb is finally available for sale to the public.