Possession of Marijuana (Marihuana) - Over One Ounce

If a person is charged with possession of marijuana of more than one ounce (1 oz.), under G. L. c. 94C, § 34, the punishment can be up to six (6) months imprisonment in a house of correction or a five hundred ($500) dollar fine, or both. For an individual to be charged under this statute, they need to have knowingly or intentionally possessed more than one (1 oz.) ounce of marijuana.

If this is a first offense, the law states that the individual charged will be placed on probation, unless the person does not wish for some reason to be placed on probation, or unless the court files a written memo stating reasons for not allowing the person to be placed on probation. When the probation period is completed, the case is dismissed, and records are sealed. This is the best outcome for a first time offender.

An experienced Massachusetts Marijuana Possession Lawyer can often resolve first offenses without a criminal record. However – without effective and strong legal representation, a conviction for possession of marijuana can become a life-changing event.

Possession of Marijuana - Over One Ounce - Second Offense

For a person charged with possession of marijuana over one (1 oz.) ounce- second offense, the charges increase substantially. A second offense for this charge carries a possible sentence of no more than two (2) years in a house of correction or a fine of two thousand ($2,000) dollars, or both.

Additionally, individuals can face much more serious drug charges depending on the amount of drugs, evidence, and contraband found during a search or seizure. The most common drug offense, including ones related specifically to marijuana are - Marijuana Trafficking and Possession with intent to distribute or distribution.

If you have been arrested for possession of marijuana or other charges related to marijuana, your legal situation depends on the amount of marijuana, whether or not you have any prior arrests, and other circumstances. You could be facing serious charges, imprisonment, fines, or both. Your first step should be contacting an experienced Boston Marijuana Possession Attorney to discuss your case.

Possession of Marijuana - One Ounce or Less

Under G. L. c 94C, § 32L, possession of one ounce (1 oz.) or less of marijuana for a person who is over the age of eighteen (18) years old, is now considered a civil offense. The civil offense is a fine of one hundred ($100) dollars and forfeiture of the marijuana and is no longer a criminal offense in Massachusetts.

However, if the individual is below the age of eighteen (18), the person still has to forfeiture the marijuana and pay the one-hundred ($100) dollar fine, but also, must complete a drug awareness program and requires the parent or legal guardian of the violator to be notified. Additionally, if the individual does not complete the drug awareness program and the community service within one year of the civil offense, the penalty may increase to a fine of one thousand ($1,000) dollars, which the parent or legal guardian is liable to pay.

This civil offense of possession of one ounce or less of marijuana cannot deny someone of- student financial aid, public housing, public financial assistance (i.e. unemployment benefits), suspend their license, or disqualify the individual for adopting a child or becoming a foster parent. Also, this offense is prohibited from being recorded on the person’s Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI).

This new law, however, does not change the law which prohibits an individual from Operating under the Influence (OUI) of marijuana and the same penalties still apply as it did before.

Possible Legalization of Marijuana

On November 8, 2016 voters in Massachusetts will decide whether to approve the Legalization, Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana throughout the state. If approved, the law would allow individuals of twenty one (21) years or older to possess up to one (1 oz) ounce of marijuana outside their residence and possess up to ten (10 oz.) ounces and grow up to six (6) marijuana plants inside their homes. The law would also allow for regulated sale of marijuana products and taxation from the proceeds as well.

Defending a Marijuana Possession Charge

An experienced and motivated Marijuana Possession Attorney in Massachusetts will work with a clear goal in mind- and acquittal if at all possible. Strategies include a careful examination of the circumstances of the arrest – was it a legal arrest, was a search warrant in place, did the officer have probable cause to conduct a search? Every step of the arrest is carefully studied and analyzed to find a strong and defensible position.

For first time offenders, the quality of your legal representation is critical. For repeat offenders, punishment for possession, growing, using, selling or distributing marijuana becomes a very serious matter. If you or someone you love has been arrested for possession of marijuana in Massachusetts, call Stephen Neyman 617-263-6800 immediately or click here to send an email.