Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington regretted having to miss the March 13 community forum on marijuana, sponsored by the South Berkshire Community Health Coalition, Railroad Street Youth Project and The Berkshire Edge, and held in the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. Here's some information that the DA wanted to contribute on the subject:

If there is a general misconception about the updated cannabis laws in Massachusetts, it’s that anything goes now when it comes to marijuana, which isn’t the case. Massachusetts legalized the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana FOR ADULTS - ages 21 and over - and adopted a series of laws that promote its safe use, much like that with alcohol and tobacco.

My main job as District Attorney is to keep Berkshire County safe and healthy. That’s why I am working with prevention and recovery experts, as well as members of law enforcement, to develop a comprehensive adult-use marijuana policy. We will enforce existing laws to protect our youth from any deleterious effects of marijuana and keep our roads safe from impaired drivers.

The law in Massachusetts allows people who are 21 and older to consume marijuana, but regulates where they can use it, how much they can grow and possess, how its transported, and more. Let’s review the state laws.

Regardless of your age, you cannot consume marijuana in any form in public or on federal land. Those who violate the law can face a fine. The law also disallows smoking marijuana where smoking tobacco is prohibited. Municipalities may pass bylaws or ordinances authorizing exceptions in certain areas for social consumption.

The law strictly prohibits consuming marijuana while operating a vehicle, and it is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana. As with alcohol, cannabis impairs driving and judgment. Don't get behind the wheel. Use public transportation or catch a ride with a sober friend.

Also like alcohol, you cannot have an open container of any form of marijuana in your car while on the road or at a place where the public has access. It must be stored in a closed container in your trunk or a locked glove compartment. The marijuana open-container law in a vehicle is enforceable by a $500 fine.

Adults may hold up to one ounce of marijuana on their person and up to 10 ounces in their homes. Those with more than an ounce must keep the cannabis locked up, though I suggest keeping all amounts under lock and key. Failure to secure marijuana products in excess of one ounce within the home may be punished by a civil penalty and forfeiture of the marijuana.

The law allows adults to grow up to six plants in their home, and a maximum of up to 12 plants if there are two or more adults living in the residence. The plants must be in an area that is equipped with a lock or security device and cannot be visible from a public place.

According to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, it is illegal for those under the age of 21 to consume, grow, purchase or possess marijuana, though there are medical exceptions. Those who violate the law must pay a civil penalty and/or fulfill a requirement to complete a drug awareness program, depending on their age. There are more substantial penalties for selling or gifting marijuana to anyone who is under 21 years old, which is unlawful in Massachusetts.

If an individual between the ages of 18 and 20 purchases or tries to purchase marijuana products or accessories, it is punishable by a fine. Individuals younger than 18 face notification of a parent or legal guardian, a fine and completion of a drug awareness program. If a person is less than 17 and fails to complete the drug awareness program within one year, they may face delinquency proceedings.

The same penalties apply for persons less than 21 years of age that cultivate not more than 12 marijuana plants. It is also illegal for individuals under 21 to alter, deface or falsify identification offered as proof of age with the intent of purchasing marijuana products.

Those who supply marijuana products or accessories to a person less than 21, either for the person’s own use or for the use of the person’s parent or another person, can be punished by a fine of up to $2,000, or imprisonment, or both a fine and imprisonment, according to state law.