Since the launch of Massachusetts’ recreational cannabis sales in November 2018, the list of state-licensed pot shops open for business has been steadily growing. Here is everything you need to know about Massachusetts’ marijuana laws.
Recreational Possession and Purchasing Limits
Marijuana is legal for personal use for adults aged 21 and older. Adults may possess up to 1 oz of flower and up to 5 grams of concentrate on them at a time. Residents can keep up to 10 oz of cannabis stored at home. In a private residence, any amount over 1 oz must be secured in a locked storage container or room.
Adults aged 21 and over are permitted to give away up to 1 oz of cannabis to another legally aged adult.
Sidenote About Vaping Products
Here’s another purchasing limit you should know about: the Massachusetts Department of Health recently ordered the ban on the sale or display of all vaping products in-store or online. This vaping ban is a response to the Governor’s declaration of a public health emergency related to the outbreak of lung disease associated with the use of vaping products and e-cigarettes.
Public consumption of cannabis is prohibited.
For now, cannabis can only be consumed in a private residence. However, landlords are permitted to ban smoking cannabis in their lease agreement. Landlords are not permitted to ban consumption methods other than smoking.
In late September 2019, the Cannabis Control Commission voted to approve regulations that would authorize the operation of cannabis cafes. Cannabis cafes will provide consumers with a way to consume socially. However, smoking will be prohibited. Now that vaping is banned in the state, it isn’t clear if any inhalation method will be permitted at a cannabis café.
Owners of these establishments will have to apply for a license to operate. Cannabis cafes will likely not be open for a while. Regulators will need to work out ways to ensure that people younger than 21 are not let into the facility. They will also need to establish guidelines that help establishments evaluate the sobriety and safety of their customers. Given the complexity of these businesses and how long it took the state to implement recreational cannabis sales, it is within the realm of possibility that cannabis cafes will not be open for another 2 or more years.
Cannabis Transport and Delivery
- No more than 1 oz of dry cannabis or 5 grams of concentrates may be transported at a time in a vehicle.
- It is illegal for an open container of cannabis to be transported in the passenger (or any directly accessible) area of a car. Cannabis must be stored in a closed container either in the trunk or locked glove compartment.
In late September 2019, the Cannabis Control Commission approved regulations that would authorize the home delivery of recreational cannabis. However, the Commission is still developing applications, so delivery services for recreational cannabis are not yet available. The Commission estimates that delivery permits will be considered before the end of 2019.
Delivery services for medical cannabis are available for patients registered with the state’s Medical Use of Marijuana Program.
Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal in Massachusetts.
Although it is difficult to test for cannabis impairment because there is no approved short-term THC-test, law enforcement officers will use field sobriety tests and drug recognition to determine if a driver is under the influence of marijuana.
First offense penalties can include any of the following:
- Probation for 1 year or longer
- Substance abuse classes
- Suspension of driver’s license for 45-90 days
At the state and federal level, it is illegal to transport cannabis across state lines, even if the state has legalized cannabis.
If you are visiting Massachusetts, you must consume the cannabis you purchase instate before you cross back over the state line. You cannot take left over cannabis back home.
If you live in Massachusetts and would like to travel outside of the state, you must leave your cannabis at home.
Transporting cannabis across state lines is a felony.
Massachusetts residents are authorized to grow their own cannabis. In a home with only 1 adult, up to 6 plants can be grown. In a home with 2 or more adults, up to 12 plants can be grown.
Cannabis grown at home must be hidden from public view and secured in a locked facility or room.
Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts
Medical marijuana has been legal in Massachusetts since 2012. The legalization of adult-use cannabis does not affect a medical marijuana patient’s status.
The Medical Use of Marijuana Program currently serves over 59,000 patients.
Patients who are Massachusetts residents aged 18 years or older may be eligible to participate in the program if they have one or more of the following debilitating medical conditions:
- Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
- Hepatitis C
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Other debilitating conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s certifying physician
Before registering with the Medical Use of Marijuana Program, patients must receive certification from a healthcare provider with whom they have a bona fide physician-patient relationship.
To register, you must submit an application online.
The registration fee is $50. If you can prove financial hardship, you may apply for a waiver of the registration fee.
The Legalization of Adult-Use Cannabis in Massachusetts: A Timeline
The legalization of cannabis was the will of the people, but it took two years for that will to come to fruition. Here is a timeline of the rollout of Massachusetts adult-use cannabis law:
November 2016 – Massachusetts constituents approve Question 4, the ballot measure authorizing the regulation of recreational marijuana.
December 2016 – Adults are legally permitted to possess, use, and grow their own cannabis. However, there is no legal way to purchase cannabis. Gov. Baker signs a law delaying the implementation of cannabis sales by 6 months.
April 2018 – Applications for marijuana businesses are open.
November 2018 – Cannabis sales officially begin.
September 2019 – The Cannabis Control Commission approves regulations that will authorize the home delivery of cannabis and the operation of cannabis cafes.