GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. (NEWS10) – Marijuana is officially legal in Massachusetts with the voter-approved law that went into effect on Thursday.
Massachusetts is the first state on the Eastern seaboard to allow recreational marijuana. Maine may possibly become the second.
For nearly 30 years, Massachusetts has gone back and forth in introducing relaxed marijuana laws. The law allows adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana outside the home, up to 10 ounces inside the home, and to grow up to 12 marijuana plants per household.
It will be enforced the same way alcohol is enforced.
“It’s going to be the same type of thing,” Shire Glass co-owner Matthew Meandrl said. “If you can have a drink there, you can smoke marijuana there. If you can’t have a drink there, then you can’t smoke.”
Shire Glass is a vape shop in Great Barrington. Meandrl said the law has limitations on where marijuana can be used given the statewide smoking ban in public places.
“Can you walk down Main Street in Great Barrington lighting up? No,” he explained. “Can you sit on your porch in Great Barrington exposed to the world and enjoy it? Absolutely.”
It will also be illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana even though there is no cannabis equivalent in the law to the 0.08 blood alcohol limit.
Meandrl said he’s heard support from local police but was told officers will continue to keep an eye on public behavior.
“They’re not going to tolerate just general debauchery as far as, you know, using marijuana just like they shouldn’t, and they don’t tolerate it without alcohol,” Meandrl said.
Karl Moon smokes marijuana every day. He said the news of legalization was music to his ears.
Moon said marijuana will not only provide medical benefits to those who need it, but also hopefully, generate tourism for the state.
“Those are seen all over the world,” he said. “Amsterdam gets so much tourism from it. Now, hopefully, our state will get tourism from it, and that’ll bring more people into the state for not only the experience but also for the money.”
Police will no longer be able to seize small amounts of marijuana from people as they have in the past because it is no longer considered contraband.
Selling pot remains illegal, but the state treasurer is looking at a January 2018 timeframe for shops to sell. In the meantime, buying up to one ounce of marijuana from a dealer is legal, but the dealer would be breaking the law.
Even though the law went into effect on Thursday, it will be at least another year before the state issues retail licenses to sell the drug.