Pubdate: Tue, 04 Jul 2017
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2017 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Dan Adams


Independence Day is a celebration of freedom. But on this July Fourth,
for the first time in more than a century, our freedoms in
Massachusetts include the ability to legally buy, possess, and use

These privileges took effect in December, after voters approved a
ballot question on recreational pot use. And that measure remains the
law of the land, despite state legislators' ongoing debate over a
rewrite of the rules.

But it's worth remembering that this freedom is heavily qualified. So,
after consulting with law enforcement experts and studying guidance
issued by state officials, here are some recreational marijuana do's
and don'ts.

Under the new recreational marijuana law, Massachusetts residents 21
and older can keep up to 10 ounces of pot in their primary homes for
personal use. Everywhere else, though, the possession limit is just 1
ounce of marijuana flower and 5 grams of marijuana concentrates.

So if you're bringing pot to the pot-luck, make sure it doesn't weigh
more than an ounce (a little more than 28 grams).

One crucial exception: The law says you cannot possess any quantity of
marijuana on the grounds of a public or private school. This is
important if you plan to attend a municipal fireworks display, as many
towns hold these events at local schools or athletic fields. Getting
caught with an ounce or less could earn you a ticket.

Finally, a note about your rights: Because marijuana is now fully
legal, instead of merely decriminalized, police officers generally
cannot seize your stash or issue a possession citation unless you're
underage, have more than an ounce on you, or appear to be selling it.
Officers also can't search you or your belongings solely on the basis
of their reasonable belief that you're carrying marijuana.

While the law allows adults to possess quite a bit of marijuana in
public, it doesn't allow them to smoke it in public - or in areas
where smoking tobacco is banned, such as restaurants and offices.
Light up in public and you could get dinged with a $100 fine, plus
possible additional penalties in towns that have bylaws or ordinances
prohibiting public pot use.

The upshot: Those looking to enhance their fireworks experience with a
little pot will have to get high beforehand at home or a friend's
home, then safely travel to the show without driving.

Renters should be aware that their leases may prohibit smoking
marijuana in or on the property. However, landlords are not allowed to
ban tenants from consuming marijuana by other means. So those who want
to enjoy a pot brownie at home after the barbecue don't need to worry
about getting evicted.

We're in an odd gray zone right now: It's legal for adults to buy
marijuana, but recreational dispensaries won't open until next summer
at the earliest. Until then, no one is allowed to sell pot (except
medical dispensaries, which may sell cannabis to registered patients).

So where's a person supposed to get some weed? Good question. At the
moment, nonpatients who are over 21 have two options.

The first is the black market. You can buy from an old-fashioned
friend-of-a-friend without fear of prosecution. However, if the
transaction goes down outside your house, remember that the 1-ounce
possession limit applies as you're bringing it home. Also, the dealer
risks arrest, and the product is unlikely to have been tested for
pesticides, molds, and other contaminants. Pursue this avenue at your
own risk.

The second option is to have a generous friend - perhaps one who grows
her own supply - give you marijuana for free. The law allows gifts of
up to 1 ounce of marijuana.

This doesn't require much explanation at all: It's completely illegal
to drive under the influence of marijuana.

True, there's no easy breathalyzer-like test police officers can use
to measure impairment from marijuana, but cops will still take you off
the road if they believe you're stoned.

You are allowed to drive around (again, while sober) with up to an
ounce of weed in your vehicle, but it must be in a sealed container.
Even better: stow it in the glove box or trunk. Open containers,
whether or not the vehicle is moving, bring a $500 fine.


For many, it's a July Fourth tradition to hop in a boat and putter
around the Charles River or Boston Harbor for a prime view of Boston's
fireworks. But beware: It's still illegal to pilot a watercraft of any
size under the influence of marijuana.

Also, federal agencies such as the Coast Guard share jurisdiction with
local law enforcement over navigable waterways. If a Coast Guard crew
boards your boat for a safety inspection and spots some pot, they will
enforce the federal prohibition on the drug, according to an agency
spokesman quoted by the Portland Press Herald in Maine.

"The Coast Guard enforces federal laws within all navigable US
waters," Andrew Barresi told the paper. "This means that in all
marijuana cases, Coast Guard law enforcement officers will enforce
federal law, even in states which have legalized it. Federal law has
not changed, so our enforcement of that law has not changed."
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