Marijuana Law in Massachusetts

Since January 2, 2009, possession of an ounce or less of marihuana (which by Question 2 includes up to one ounce of pure THC) is a civil violation subject to a $100 if you are over the age of eighteen.  If you are under the age of 18 you must also perform 10 hours of community service and take a program.  See Question 2 is the Law.

NORML’s Guide to Massachusetts’ Marijuana Laws

Conviction of possession of more than an ounce of marihuana (G.L. c. 94C, s. 34) still carries possible incarceration in jail, probation and, or a fine.

In addition, G.L. c. 90, s. 22(f) requires the Registry of Motor Vehicles to suspend the “privilege” of driving of those convicted and G.L. c. 140, s. 121 – 131P denies to those convicted the right to possess and carry firearms.  It is clear that unlike a conviction, a responsible finding or admission by payment of the citation, does not alone grant a police chief the lawful authority to deny issuance of a new permit or renewal, however, Massachusetts gun laws give the chief great discretion in issuing permits under the law.

Federal law denies guaranteed student loans to those convicted.

For the most part, first offenses are continued without a finding, and charges are dropped after six months to a one year. Defendants may still be ordered to submit to urine testing, reporting to Probation, and will be ordered to pay fees.  Prosecution itself is used as a form of punishment.

Many factors contribute to a defendant’s sentence. Factors include level of involvement in the prohibited conduct, location, age, presence or absence of minors, use of communications devices like telephones, conduct for which a person has been acquitted, and many other things.

Unless otherwise specified, assume the following listed penalties apply only to first convictions. Prior convictions often place a defendant in a higher penalty range. Except where indicated otherwise, a listed fine is the maximum fine for the conviction, and the minimum fine is zero.

More detail can be found on the Massachusetts page of NORML’s useful breakdown of state laws and penalties.


The Massachusetts legislature passed two pieces of legislation during the 1990s recognizing the therapeutic value of marijuana, and permitting its use for medicine in limited situations.

However, this legislation also established the federal government as the designated agency for the distribution of marijuana to the state health care system. Since then the Federal government has refused to play this role, with the result that caretakers recommending marijuana and patients possessing it remain vulnerable to arrest.

This page is not intended to be legal advice, if you have been cited, summonsed or arrested you should concult with a lawyer.  Click here for a  list of Massachusetts members of the NORML Legal Committee.