Massachusetts

Is weed legal in Massachusetts?

Yes, both medical and recreational, i.e. adult-use, marijuana are legal in the Pilgrim State. 

 

Possession of more than 1 ounce but not more than 2 ounces outside the home is a misdemeanor with a potential penalty of a $100 fine and forfeiture of the cannabis in excess of 1 ounce. 

Legislation history

Voters approved the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative, or Question 3, in November 2012. Question 3 established the Massachusetts Medical Use of Marijuana Program, initially administered by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), to regulate medical marijuana across the Commonwealth.

 

The Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative, or Question 4, passed by voters in November 2016, legalized cannabis use for adults 21 and older and created the Cannabis Control Commission (the Commission) to regulate marijuana statewide. Retail sales began in November 2018.

 

When it was time for legislators to enact Question 4 into law, the two houses had differing approaches but a compromise bill was eventually approved. H 3818 was signed by Gov. Charlie Baker in July 2017 and became Chapter 55 of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

 

The bill added two more members to the Commission and made the marijuana excise tax 10.75% on top of the state sales tax of 6.25% while also allowing cities to add 3%, for a total of 20% tax on adult-use marijuana. Medical cannabis remained tax-free. The bill also allowed jurisdictions that had voted against legalization to ban retail sales with a vote of the city council while jurisdictions that voted for it would need a referendum to ban sales. 

Where is safe to purchase?

Medical marijuana

Registered patients can purchase a 60-day supply of medical cannabis from any state-licensed dispensary. The 60-day supply is limited to 10 ounces, though the certifying health care provider can specify more on the patient’s certificate. There are medical marijuana delivery services available, and a designated caregiver may transport medical cannabis from a licensed dispensary or grow site to a registered patient. Medical marijuana is tax-exempt in Massachusetts. 

Adult-use

Adults age 21 and older can purchase 1 ounce of cannabis or 5 grams of concentrate from licensed marijuana retailers. Adult-use cannabis is subject to a 6.25% sales tax, a 10.75% state excise tax, and a potential municipal tax of up to 3%. As such, most adult-use consumers could encounter a total tax rate of about 20%.

Finding licensed dispensaries in Massachusetts

Registered patients can find licensed dispensaries in Massachusetts and search by cities including Boston, Worcester, and North Hampton. Many dispensaries in Massachusetts offer delivery and curbside pickup services in addition to storefront sales.

Where is it safe to consume?

Cannabis can be consumed on private property, but marijuana products cannot be smoked, eaten, or vaped in public. Furthermore, cannabis products cannot be smoked where tobacco smoking is prohibited. Adult-use consumers as well as registered patients and their caregivers can carry cannabis in their vehicles as long as it is in a sealed container in the trunk or a locked glove compartment.

 

Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal. Neither drivers nor passengers may consume marijuana in a vehicle. Consumption is generally banned in public but the Commission does allow local jurisdictions to set their own rules around cafes, smoke rooms, or other options for social consumption.

 

The Commission offers a fact sheet on adult consumption in Massachusetts.

Possession

Adults 21 and older, as well as patients and their caregivers, are allowed to possess 10 ounces (283 grams) of cannabis inside their homes, and less than 1 ounce (28 grams) in public. Adults are also allowed to grow up to six cannabis plants per person and up to 12 per household in their homes.

 

While medical and adult-use cannabis are now legal in Massachusetts, both patients and consumers still face penalties for violating what is allowable under state law. Specifically, public consumption of cannabis or smoking it where smoking tobacco is prohibited can result in a fine of $100, and possessing an open container of cannabis in a vehicle can result in a fine of $500.

How Old Do I Need
to Be to Consume?
21+
Recreational
18+
Medical
Possession Limit
for Flower
1 oz in public, 10 oz at home
Recreational
60 day supply
Medical
Possession Limit
for Concentrates
1 oz in public, 1.5 oz at home
Recreational
60 day supply
Medical

Home cultivation

Any individual 21 years of age and older may grow up to six plants per person or up to 12 plants per household in their home. Cannabis from home cultivation doesn’t count towards the 10 ounces people are allowed to possess at home. The Commission offers guidelines on growing cannabis at home in compliance with the law.

 

Qualifying patients may apply for hardship registration if they wish to cultivate their own cannabis, or have a caregiver grow on their behalf. They are allowed to cultivate the number of plants needed to provide a 60-day supply of cannabis. 

Medical Marijuana Registry

Qualified patients can register with the Medical Use of Marijuana Program (MMP) to access cannabis for medical use. Patients must meet with and receive certification from a health-care provider before they can register for the MMP. Registration must be renewed annually by both patients and caregivers, though registry ID cards are good for three years. Patients must also maintain active certifications from their original health-care providers. There’s no charge for patients or caregivers to register with MMP.

Qualifying conditions

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease

Any other condition considered debilitating by the patient’s health-care provider may be a qualifying condition. 

Application process

  1. Obtain a physician’s certification that confirms the patient suffers from at least one qualifying medical condition.
  2. Receive from the physician a personal identification number (PIN) needed to register with the program.
  3. Provide a valid state-issued identification card to establish proof of Massachusetts residency, as well as a recent photo that conforms to registration guidelines.
  4. Designate a caregiver, if applicable.

Caregiver requirements

Registered patients who require assistance obtaining or using medical marijuana may designate a primary caregiver. Prospective personal caregivers must first register with the MMP using the patient’s PIN (provided by the physician). Caregivers must be at least 21 years old and may only provide care for one patient. An employee of a hospice, nursing, or medical facility; or a visiting nurse, personal care attendant, or home health aide providing care to a qualifying patient, may serve as a designated caregiver, including to patients younger than 18 as a second caregiver.

Application process

  1. Obtain the patient’s PIN via their current MMP portal account.
  2. Complete the program application.
  3. Provide a valid state-issued identification card to establish proof of Massachusetts residency, as well as a recent photo that conforms to registration guidelines.

Reciprocity

Massachusetts does not allow reciprocity for medical marijuana, but adults 21 and older may purchase recreational products whether they are residents or not.

Testing

The Commission requires that all cannabis harvested for commercial and medical use, as well as all marijuana products, be tested for safety, quality control, and potency. Certified labs must test for the following:

  • Cannabinoid profile and potency
  • Fungal mycotoxins
  • Heavy metals
  • Microbiological contaminants
  • Mycotoxins
  • Pesticides
  • Plant growth regulators
  • Residual solvents

Vape concentrates must also be tested for vitamin E acetate.

FAQ

Is weed legal in Boston?

Yes, it’s legal throughout Massachusetts.

 

When did Massachusetts legalize pot?

Voters passed the Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative, or Question 4, in November 2016.

 

Is pot legal in New England?

New England includes Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Cannabis is legal for adult-use in Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts only. 

 

What is the Massachusetts recreational marijuana law?

Chapter 55 of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts governs adult-use marijuana in the state.

 

When does Massachusetts’ marijuana law take effect?

Massachusetts voters approved Question 4 in November 2016, legalizing recreational cannabis. It became effective in December 2016 and sales began in 2018.

 

This page was last updated on October 29, 2020.