As a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer some of the questions I am asked most frequently involve the legal status of marijuana is in our Commonwealth. The first thing I always remind people in these conversations is that although marijuana may be a legal grey area under our state laws, it is certainly not a legal grey area in any way under the federal laws. All federal laws concerning marijuana including laws outlawing the possession, cultivation and distribution of marijuana apply every bit as much in Massachusetts as they do in any other part of the country. However, because only a handful of marijuana cases are pursued by federal authorities each year, the majority of citizen’s facing charges relating to marijuana do so as a result of investigations by state authorities enforcing Massachusetts law.
In 2008 Massachusetts voters overwhelming approved a ballot question known as Question 2. Question 2 effictively decriminalized possession of marijuana in amounts smaller than one ounce. As a result of this new law police can no longer arrest people found in possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, and no criminal charges can issue. The penalty for possession of one ounce of marijuana or less is now a civil fine of $100.
This law has also led to some interesting questions that remain unanswered even more than two years after its initial passing. For example in its language the law seems to decriminalize all possession of marijuana under one ounce. However people are still arrested regularly for possessing one ounce of marijuana or less if there is some indication that they intend to distribute that marijuana to other people. Whether or not these arrests are proper remains a grey area. Some district court judges have thrown these cases out of court, declaring that the new law demands that no more than a civil fine can be imposed even if there is an intent to distribute the marijuana. Other judges have declined to dismiss these cases and people have had charges of possession with intent to distribute proceed, even though they did not possess more than an ounce.
Recently this very issue has come before the Supreme Judical Court in Massachusetts in the case of Commonwealth v. Brian Dee. Oral arguments were heard on the case in November and the Commonwealth’s highest court is expected to issue a decision on the matter relatively soon.
Regardless of the grey area surrounding possession with intent to distribute it remains absolutely illegal to sell or distribute marijuana in any amount. It also remains illegal to possess the drug in any amount greater than one ounce.
If you have been charged with any crimes related to marijuana in Massachusetts you should contact a marijuana defense attorney immediately. I am an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Massachusetts and have had the opportunity to handle countless cases involving allegations of criminal marijuana activity as both a prosecutor and as a defense attorney. If you have been charged, or think that you may be charged I would be happy to offer you a free consultation so that I can answer all of your questions regarding your case. The consultation is entirely free and there is no commitment or hard sell to hire me. I will let you know what I think the best way to handle your case, and I will quote you a price to handle your matter. The price I quote you is guaranteed, and there will never be surprise legal bills or expenses. Charges involving marijuana can be very serious and result in consequences including jail time, license loss, and even make college students ineligible for financial aid. Call me for a free consultation at 508-762-4540 or contact me directly using the form on the right side of this page.