Marijuana use is legal to some extent in New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts. While marijuana has been legal to use recreationally in Massachusetts since 2016 and in Maine since 2018, marijuana is only legal to use for medical purposes in New Hampshire. Although the possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized in New Hampshire, decriminalization is not the same as legalization. As of June 2020, the New Hampshire Senate is considering legislation that would legalize marijuana for recreational use in the state, but until this bill is passed and signed into law, the current legal regime remains in place.
But even where recreational use is legal, those states still regulate the use of it, for example by limiting the amount you can possess or where you can use it. This is not an exhaustive list of all the regulations involving marijuana, but it is a general overview of some of the more important rules you should be aware of.
In Maine, marijuana use is restricted by age, much like alcohol. You are only allowed to use marijuana if you are over the age of 21. Moreover, a person is limited to having only 2 ½ oz, or 5 grams of cannabis concentrate. Any amount over this is a criminal violation, and you may be charged with criminal possession. Additionally, you can only consume it on your own private property or on the property of another with his or her permission. Public consumption of marijuana is not permitted in Maine. The law is unclear on the matter, but the smell of marijuana alone may be enough to justify an unwarranted search of your person or vehicle when you are out in public.
You are also allowed to grow marijuana plants, but you are limited to only 3 mature plants, and 12 immature plants. You can also have an unlimited number of seedlings. These trees cannot be sold to others, but you may give up to six immature plants to another person without compensation Any plants must also be grown in a place where they are hidden from the unaided view of an ordinary person. If a person must use an airplane or binoculars to see what you are growing, then you are not breaking the law. You are also required to limit access to the marijuana planet to anyone over the age of 21.
The rules are slightly different for medical use. A qualifying patient can have up to 8 pounds of marijuana and may grow 6 mature plants and 12 immature plants.
While you can grow, possess, and use marijuana, you cannot, as an individual, sell marijuana. You can give someone 2 ½ oz or less of marijuana, but you cannot receive any compensation for it.
The consequences for breaking the law varies depending on what part of the law your break. For example, possession of between 2 ½ to 8 oz of marijuana for criminal use is a Class E crime. Moreover, any violation of the recreational use statute is considered at least a civil violation that may result in $100 fine on top of any other criminal or civil penalties.
While Massachusetts, like Maine, allows marijuana for both recreational and medical use, a person is subjected to very different restrictions. While marijuana is still restricted to people 21 years or older, a person may have up to 1 ounce of marijuana on their person but may have up to 10 ounces of marijuana in her or his home. Anything over 1 ounce, however, must be secured by a lock Similarly to Maine, Massachusetts only permits the possession of 5 grams of marijuana concentrate regardless of location. Just as in Maine, you may not, as an individual, sell marijuana, but you may give up to 1 ounce to another person without compensation.
Massachusetts also has specific restrictions on where you can consume marijuana. In general, you cannot consume marijuana in public, nor can you smoke it where smoking tobacco would be permitted. If your city or town allows it, you may be able to consume marijuana products on the premises of a marijuana shop. Additionally, while you may transport your marijuana in a vehicle, you cannot consume it in your vehicle, and, like alcohol, you cannot have an “open container” of marijuana. If the seal is broken on the packaging of your cannabis product, it is illegal to store it in your vehicle.
When it comes to vehicles, Massachusetts has another key distinction from Maine. Unlike in Maine, the smell of marijuana alone is not enough to justify a search of your person or your vehicle, or your detention.
Unlike all its neighboring states, marijuana is not legal for recreational use in New Hampshire. Any amount of marijuana up to ¾ of an ounce is punishable with a civil violation and a fine for the first three violations. A civil violation is not a criminal charge and does not result in a criminal conviction. However, the fourth violation within a three-year period can be charged as a class B misdemeanor. Though a class B misdemeanor cannot result in jail time, it can result in a fine. Any amount over ¾ of an ounce can be charged as a misdemeanor on the first violation.
In New Hampshire, the smell of marijuana alone cannot be used to justify a warrantless search or detention. However, the smell of marijuana combined with other factors may be enough to justify a search or detention.
However, this only applies for recreational use. If you are a qualifying patient using marijuana for medical purposes, you may possess up to 2 ounces of usable marijuana. You may not cultivate marijuana in your home. This does not just apply to New Hampshire residents with a valid registry identification card, but to visiting patients as well. However, visitors must follow a few additional regulations. First, visiting patients also need a statement from their provider that states that she or he has a qualifying medical condition. Secondly, while a visiting patient can possess marijuana in New Hampshire, she or he cannot obtain it in New Hampshire.