Understanding Cannabis Use and the Law

By Lil Cronin
First published in The Milton Times, July 2019

In Massachusetts, significant restrictions have been lifted regarding the use of cannabis/marijuana. According to the Cannabis Control Commission of Massachusetts, marijuana is legal in Massachusetts for people 21 and older, with certain restrictions. The following includes some basics about the law regarding use. One cannot use marijuana in any form (smoking, vaping, edibles…) in public or on federal land. A 21-year-old-plus adult may possess up to 1 ounce on one’s person. Like alcohol, any form of marijuana in a vehicle must be stored in a closed container in the trunk or in a locked glove compartment. It is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana.

According to recent research by the AAA foundation, nearly 15 million people reported driving within one hour after having used marijuana in the past 30 days. The impairing effects of marijuana are generally experienced within the first one to four hours after using the drug. Also, marijuana users who drive high are up to twice as likely to be involved in a crash.

Mary Maguire, the AAA Northeast Director of Public and Legislative Affairs, verified that marijuana can significantly alter reaction times as well as impair the driver’s judgment. Yet, she said that people don’t consider marijuana - impaired driving to be as risky a behavior as driving drunk or talking on the phone while driving. As far as the reality, she said that any driver getting behind the wheel high can be arrested and prosecuted. Law enforcement officers are becoming more sophisticated in identifying marijuana - impaired driving and are enforcing the consequences.

The Milton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition focuses on reducing youth substance use. Marijuana can be harmful if used regularly in adolescence. Learn more about its affects on the adolescent brain, and get tips for parents on speaking with their children at www.Milton-coalition.org