Other than simple possession of marijuana, Massachusetts has tough drug possession laws. It remains a tough state for prosecuting drug offenses, and maintains strict penalties on most drug possession laws.

Massachusetts recently decriminalized possession of small amounts (under 1 oz) or marijuana to a civil infraction. Though possession of larger amounts, or selling (distribution) of marijuana remains a criminal offense.

Massachusetts Drug Arrests

During 2007, it was reported that there were 20,626 arrests for drug abuse violations according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). Imposition of penalties also includes the mandatory minimum which is enforced in other states. Under Massachusetts drug possession laws, a mandatory minimum statute means that courts have no other alternatives than to impose a sentence not less than the minimum penalties (jail time), despite any  mitigating factors.

Massachusetts Drug Categories for Controlled Substances

In penalizing offenses for the violations against Controlled Substances Acts, the drugs are categorized into classes which include the following:

Class A Substance

This class includes Heroin as by far the most commonly charged Class A Substance.  Heroin is one of the mostly common and dangerous drugs abused in Massachusetts. At first, it can cause euphoria, alternately drowsy and alert state, oral dryness, flush, slow breathing, and muscle weakness. This may lead to decreased liver function, collapsed veins, pneumonia and abscess if used in a long-term basis. This class are deemed to be most dangerous as they have high potential of abuse.

Penalties for Possession of a Class A Controlled Substance

Possession of such for the first time will be a maximum of 2 years in prison and in second time will be up to 2 ½ years in jail.

Class B Substance

This class includes cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA or “Molly), oxycodone hydrochloride, Amphetamine, and more. Chronic use could cause increased risk of strokes, drowsiness, sore throat, chest pain, difficulty breathing and increased risk of myocardial infarction or heart attack. These drugs as of now have accepted medical use with severe restrictions and its abuse may lead to physiological or physical dependence.

Penalties for Possession of a Class B Controlled Substance

First offense includes a maximum sentence of 1 year and the 2nd offense is an imprisonment up to 2 years.

Class C Substance

This class includes drugs such as Diazepam, Lorazepam. Adverse side effects include confusion, amnesia, and ataxia.

Penalties for Possession of a Class C Controlled Substance

One or more prior convictions of possessing an illegal drug belonging to this class is a 2-year mandatory minimum.

Class D Substance

This class includes marijuana, hashish, and other substances with THC. Use of marijuana may cause symptoms of reddened eyes, mouth dryness, heart palpitations, and/or heart or cold sensation. If person possessed a drug belonging to this class, he may be on 6-month probation. Further violations can lead to further severe penalties which can include drug treatment programs, fines, and/or imprisonment.

Penalties for Possession of a Class D Controlled Substance

Conviction of either of these carries a 1-year loss of driver’s license as well as a 2-year penalty after the sentence of underlying offense if near to school property, park, or playground, aka a “school zone” offense.

In addition, inducing a person under the age of 18 to distribute or sell controlled substances is subject to 5-year mandatory minimum.