What Do I Need to Know About My Rights as They Pertain to Marijuana Consumption and Cultivation?

Throughout history, marijuana has brought many benefits to vastly different populations. Realizing that those benefits outweigh any potential risks, Massachusetts, as a forward-thinking state, has allowed this product (and it is a “product”) to enter the marketplace on a legal basis, though regulatory details continue to be worked out. Below are some salient facts and dates to remember as cannabis comes fully online in the Commonwealth.

When did the law take effect?
The law took effect on December 15, 2016.

What aspects of the law took effect on December 15th?
Although licenses for cultivation, manufacture, testing, and retail sales will not be issued until July 2018, certain personal use provisions allowed for persons 21 years or older went into effect on December 15, 2016. Those include the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, of which five grams may be marijuana concentrate, as well as the home-growth provisions that allow for the possession of up to 10 ounces of marijuana in one’s primary residence and six plants per resident, but no more than 12 plants per household. For more specific information, please refer to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 94G.

Where can I grow my plants?
Plants can only be grown or processed in one’s primary residence, in a locked or secured location. And one is not permitted to grow the plants in a place of residence that is viewable from a public space with the use of binoculars, aircraft, or other optical aids.

When can I apply for a license?
Applications are currently not available, but will become so after the appointment of the CCC. Chapter 94G requires that the CCC accept certain license applications by April 1, 2018.

What kind of licenses can I apply for?
Applications for a retail, manufacturer, cultivator, or testing facility licenses will be available.

How much will it cost to apply for a license?
Once appointed, the CCC will decide what fee(s) will be charged when applying for a particular license. However, Chapter 94G limits the amount that can be charged to a maximum of 1.) $3 thousand for an initial application; 2.) $15 thousand for a recreational marijuana retail license; 3.) $15 thousand for a recreational marijuana manufacturer license; 4.) $15 thousand for a recreational marijuana cultivator license; and 5.) $10 thousand for a recreational marijuana testing facility license.

Can I smoke or consume recreational marijuana/marijuana products in public?
In general, no, smoking recreational marijuana in a place where one is prohibited from smoking tobacco is illegal, and one cannot consume recreational marijuana in a public place. Chapter 94G contains an exception for certain marijuana establishments.

Can I drive with recreational marijuana in my car?
In general, one cannot have an open container of recreational marijuana/marijuana product in the passenger area of one’s car while on the road or at a place to which the public has access. Also, Chapter 94G does not change the existing penalties for operating a car, etc., if one is impaired by marijuana/marijuana product, and one is not permitted to consume marijuana while operating a car, etc. For specific information, see Chapter 94G.

Can I smoke or consume recreational marijuana/marijuana edibles at work?
In general, individual employers still have the authority to limit employees’ consumption of marijuana in the workplace. See Chapter 94G for specific information.

Will this new law impact my medical marijuana registration?
At this time, no. The new law is not anticipated to impact medical marijuana, which is a separate program overseen by the Department of Public Health.

Why have some of the original ballot initiative deadlines been changed?
Effective December 30, 2016, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill extending some of the deadlines contained in the original ballot initiative by six months. For example, the deadlines for the appointment of the CCC and the Cannabis Advisory Board, and acceptance of license applications, were extended. As noted above, however, certain provisions went into effect on December 15, 2016, as planned under the ballot initiative.

Please do not hesitate to contact Burns & Levinson for more information regarding the license-application process, or if you have any other questions.