With July 1 marking the start of adult-use marijuana sales, Massachusetts residents still have a lot of questions.
Wicked Local crowdsourced some from across the commonwealth and found widespread interest related to personal freedom, business interests and law enforcement. The questions were compiled and sent to state regulators and local law enforcement.
As the industry continues to roll out, questions will most likely continue to arise. But for now, here are some answers:
What’s the legal age of consumption?
21 years of age — Cannabis Control Commission (CCC)
Are people allowed to smoke in public? How about consume edibles?
No, consuming marijuana or marijuana products in a public place is prohibited. Smoking marijuana in an area where smoking tobacco is prohibited is also prohibited. — CCC
What’s the penalty?
The civil penalty for consuming marijuana in public or smoking marijuana where smoking tobacco is prohibited is up to $100. Cities and towns may pass bylaws or ordinances authorizing social consumption in certain areas. Consumption of marijuana is limited to adults over 21, with limited, specific medical exceptions. — CCC
Are people allowed to consume at bars, restaurants or smoke shops?
The commission voted to eliminate social consumption licenses from the final regulations promulgated in March, based on feedback received during 10 public hearings throughout the state and from nearly 500 public comments. — CCC
Will that be allowed in the future?
The commission agreed to revisit the issue in October and the regulations in February (2019) in order to give them more time to gather data, study the issues involved with a social consumption license. If, or when, the license type does become available, the Commission agreed it will first be limited to equity applicants and craft cooperatives for an unspecified period of time, pending research and legal review. — CCC
How much marijuana can a person have on them at one time and what form can it take?
If you are over 21 years old, you may possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana on your person. Not more than five grams of marijuana may be in the form of marijuana concentrate. In your home, you may possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana and any marijuana produced by plants cultivated on the premises.
Any amount of marijuana or marijuana products over 1 ounce kept within your place of residence must be secured by a lock. Failure to keep marijuana and marijuana products in excess of 1 ounce locked up within the home may be punished by a civil penalty of up to $100 and forfeiture of the marijuana. — CCC
Where can people grow and store cannabis-related products in their homes?
The law allows an individual over 21 years of age to grow up to six plants in their home. If there are other individuals over 21 years of age living in the residence who wish to grow, the maximum number of plants that may be grown in a residence is 12 plants. The plants must be grown in an area that is equipped with a lock or security device. The plants cannot be visible from a public place without the use of binoculars, aircraft or other optical aids. — CCC
How about extracts and concentrates?
An individual cannot produce cannabis-based extracts or concentrates at home by means of any liquid or gas, other than alcohol, that has a flashpoint below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. — CCC
Will landlords be allowed to ban it?
— A landlord may, in a lease agreement, lawfully prohibit or otherwise regulate the consumption of marijuana by smoking and the display, production, processing, manufacturing or sale of marijuana or marijuana accessories on or in property that the landlord owns
Consuming by not smoking:
— A lease agreement may not prohibit a tenant from consuming marijuana by means other than smoking on or in property in which the tenant resides, unless failing to do so would cause the landlord to violate a federal law or regulation or if the property is owned by the commonwealth, a subdivision of the commonwealth (e.g. a county, city or town) or a state or local government agency
Protection for landlords:
— The 2017 Act prohibits a landlord from being punished under state law for allowing marijuana consumption or other marijuana-related activities conducted lawfully under the 2017 law and the Commission’s regulations on the landlord’s property — CCC
When will retail sales of adult-use marijuana be allowed?
The Cannabis Control Commission aims to license retail establishments in July; however, July 1 is not a state-mandated deadline. As of June 20, there are 53 license applications pending before the commission that have submitted their four required packets of information and require staff review for completeness, background checks, host municipality certification, and a public vote by the commission — CCC
What adult-use marijuana businesses might I see in my community? What are the different licenses?
There are nine types of adult-use cannabis licenses available: — CCC
2. Craft marijuana cooperative
3. Product manufacturer
6. Research facility
7. Independent testing laboratory
8. Standards testing laboratory
How far should marijuana-related businesses be located from schools?
Under state law, a marijuana establishment may not be located within 500 feet of a pre-existing public or private school providing education in kindergarten or first grade through 12th grade. Municipalities may adopt an ordinance or bylaw to reduce that distance requirement. — CCC
Are retail licenses transferable?
Yes, the commission’s regulations allow for entities and individuals associated with a marijuana establishment, either through ownership or control, to change subject to commission approval. — CCC
Do the licenses need to be renewed each year?
A marijuana establishment’s license expires one year after the date of issuance of the provisional license and annually thereafter. The applicant must apply for renewal. — CCC
Do people need a special license to sell marijuana-related paraphernalia, including pipes, glass products, bongs and vaporizers, etc.? Is that allowed?
The Cannabis Control Commission does not require those who wish to only sell paraphernalia to obtain a license. However, a licensed marijuana establishment does have limitations in terms of selling accessories, which must meet multiple requirements under state law. — CCC
Are medical marijuana dispensaries grandfathered into local zoning, or will they need new agreements to sell in the adult-use market?
Under state law, adult-use marijuana establishments and RMDs are required to execute “host community agreements” with the municipalities in which they operate. The agreement must stipulate the responsibilities of the community and the marijuana establishment or RMDs. The agreement may include a community impact fee of up to 3 percent of gross sales to be paid to the host community, as long as the fee is reasonably related to real costs imposed on the municipality due to the establishment or RMD operating there. The agreement may not be effective for longer than five years. — CCC
How should local police handle smoking in public?
Local police may handle public use of marijuana by applying the law (that) prohibits public use of marijuana in Massachusetts, and may result in a $100 fine. Since (the law) does not apply to medical marijuana, officers in towns which have accepted a public use bylaw may enforce public use of medical marijuana as well, which may range from a $100 to $300 fine. Massachusetts law also forbids open containers of marijuana in a vehicle and is enforceable by a $500 fine. — Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael
Can I keep marijuana in my vehicle?
Like alcohol, you may not have an open container of adult-use marijuana/marijuana products in the passenger area of your car while on the road or at a place where the public has access. — CCC
What’s an open container?
An “open container” includes a package with its seal broken or a package from which the contents have been partially removed. The “passenger area” does not include a trunk or a locked glove compartment. — CCC
Is it illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana?
You are strictly prohibited from consuming marijuana while operating a car. The 2017 Act does not change the existing penalties for operating a car while impaired by the use of marijuana or marijuana products. — CCC
Does law enforcement have tools to detect marijuana use, i.e. driving under the influence?
Marijuana causes impairment, and driving under the influence of marijuana should be avoided at all cost. Law enforcement does not currently have all the tools necessary to address impaired driving for marijuana as we do for enforcing alcohol. There is no implied consent, permissible inference standards or a breath test technology in place as we have for alcohol.
OUI marijuana depends on the officers’ observations, the circumstances involved in each case (and) the administration of roadside assessments… Non-expert officers cannot testify to an opinion as to if someone is high, they can only base their testimony on their observations, and the subject’s behavior, attitude, appearance and/or physical evidence. The Massachusetts OUI Commission is currently meeting to address these issues. — Carmichael
When should I call the police if marijuana is disturbing me?
If it’s in public or in an apartment building etc, it may rise to the level of disturbing the peace if the situation cannot be handled otherwise using other lawful mechanisms. Calling the police should occur when there isn’t another option to seek relief. — Carmichael
What’s allowed to be made into edible products, including candies, sodas, snacks, butters and marijuana-infused alcohol?
Any edible marijuana product that is made to resemble a typical food or beverage product must be packaged and labeled as required by state law, including marked with special symbols.
The manufacture or sale of edibles in the following shapes is prohibited:
— The distinct shape of a human, animal, or fruit
— A shape that bears the likeness or contains characteristics of a realistic or fictional human, animal, or fruit, including artistic, caricature, or cartoon renderings
Edible marijuana products that are geometric shapes and simply fruit-flavored are not considered fruit and are permissible. — CCC
Where will people in need of medical marijuana be able to get it? Is that changing?
The Department of Public Health still regulates the medical marijuana industry, but state law requires the program to transfer to the Cannabis Control Commission by the end of this year. The commission has put protections in place for RMDs that choose to collocate adult-use cannabis operations. — CCC
Will dispensaries be required to serve both medical patients and commercial customers?
Where a marijuana retailer has been open and dispensing for a period of six months or longer, the licensee shall maintain a quantity and variety of marijuana products for patients that is sufficient to meet the demand indicated by an analysis of sales data collected by the licensee during the preceding six months.
Where a marijuana retailer has been open and dispensing for a period of less than six months, the licensee shall reserve 35 percent of the RMD’s marijuana products. The products reserved for patient supply shall, unless unreasonably impracticable, reflect the actual types and strains of marijuana products documented during the previous six months. — CCC