Pot decriminalization law in effect in Massachusetts

marijuana decriminalization law

Possession of a small amount of marijuana in the state Massachusetts is no longer a crime.

Starting January 2, 2009, having one ounce or less of pot is now a civil offense instead of a criminal one. Those who are caught with the said amount of cannabis could appeal the civil infraction in court within 21 days or pay a $100 fine set in the law. Juvenile violators would have to pay the fine and attend a drug abuse counseling course, or have the fine increased to $1,000.

“I think given the way the fine structures are set up now there’s absolutely no incentive for people not to carry less than an ounce of marijuana,” Auburn police Chief Andrew Sluckis told WBZ. “And there’s little incentive for police to enforce the law.”

The state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security released guidelines Monday in response to questions about the law.

According to the guidelines, police may still investigate people they believe possess cannabis provided they have probable cause and exigent circumstances.

The guidelines also note that cities and towns may pass ordinances banning the public use of the herb, and encourages them to do so.

So enjoy a joint, a bowl of hashish, or even a few hits of hash oil without fear of arrest beginning today.