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Parent Power: You are the strongest influence in your child's life.

For many parents, recent changes to marijuana laws in Massachusetts have caused confusion about the legal status of marijuana – and made discussions with their children about the recreational use of marijuana more complicated.

These pages provide information to support parents in these discussions because you, as a parent, are the strongest influence on your child’s life. In fact, children whose parents talk to them about the risks of using drugs are up to 50% less likely to use drugs.

Included below are highlights regarding the current marijuana laws, the effects marijuana has on the health of young people, and some research-based suggestions on ways to discuss marijuana with your child.

Knowing the laws about marijuana use can be a powerful place to start

  • It is not legal to sell or buy marijuana for recreational use in Massachusetts.
  • Anyone in possession of an ounce or less of marijuana for non-medical use can face civil penalties:
    • For those under 18, these include fines, completion of a drug awareness program, and performing community service.
    • Those over 18 face a fine of $100
  • People who drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana can face criminal charges.
  • Except in circumstances of approved medical use, it is a criminal offense to possess more than one ounce of marijuana, distribute any amount, and possess any amount with intent to distribute.

(This should not be taken as legal advice.)

See more information about the laws related to the non-medical use of marijuana.

See more information about the Department of Public Health Medical Use of Marijuana program

Harms of Youth Use

  • Our brains do not stop developing until we’re in our mid-twenties at the earliest.
  • If your son or daughter uses marijuana at a young age, they risk damage to their brain – and significant learning and memory problems down the line.
  • Marijuana use is known to:
    • Affect motivation and school work
    • Impair short-term memory, perception, and motor skills
    • Some studies have shown marijuana to be addictive
    • Increase the risk of a young person using other drugs

For more information about the health effects of marijuana use, visit the National Institute of Drug Abuse’s website.

Action Tips to Prevent Marijuana Use

Children in middle school and high school are at very different stages of their lives -- so there are different ways to use your Parent Power to prevent them from using marijuana for recreational purposes.

Choose the grade level of your child to learn more:


This information is provided by the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services within the Department of Public Health.