Massachusetts Marijuana Laws

Four years after approving comprehensive medical marijuana legislation in 2012, voters in Massachusetts fully legalized recreational marijuana for adults.

Recreational Marijuana in Massachusetts

Ballot initiative Question 4 was approved by 54 percent of voters in November 2016, legalizing adult use marijuana and subjecting it to taxes and rules similar to those that apply to alcohol. Under the law, which took effect December 15, 2016, adults 21 and older are allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, keep up to 10 ounces of marijuana at home, and grow up to six plants for personal use. Cannabis edibles and concentrates are also legal under the law.

Retail sales of recreational marijuana were originally slated to begin January 2018, but Massachusetts lawmakers voted to push that date back six months to July 1, 2018 instead. The delay, the lawmakers claim, is to better ensure public health and safety.

Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts

With 63% of voters approving Ballot Question 3 in November 2012, medical marijuana became legal in Massachusetts. Under the law, patients over 18 years of age must be approved by a physician and certified by the state before being legally allowed to possess up to a “60 day supply” of marijuana. Patients under the age of 18 can qualify for medical marijuana provided two Massachusetts licensed certifying physicians diagnose the patient as having either a debilitating life-limiting illness or a condition where both physicians believe the benefits of marijuana outweigh the risks.

Patients can apply for a hardship cultivation registration due to financial hardship, physical incapacity to travel to a dispensary, or living beyond a reasonable distance of a dispensary. Being approved for a hardship cultivation registration allows patients or his or her caregiver to cultivate a limited number of plants sufficient to maintain a 60-day supply of marijuana.

Conditions approved for medical marijuana in Massachusetts include:

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Crohn’s disease
Hepatitis C
Multiple Sclerosis
Parkinson’s disease
As of November 30, 2016, Massachusetts has nine dispensaries that are fully operational, 33,079 active patients and 173 registered physicians participating in the program.

Consumption of CBD from Hemp Oil in Massachusetts

Consumption of CBD hemp oil is federally legal, as CBD hemp oil falls under the same importation and commerce laws as other hemp products. The state of Massachusetts has not created any further legislation specifically relating to CBD from hemp oil, so it is legal to purchase and consume CBD hemp oil products.

Cultivation of Cannabis in Massachusetts

Under Massachusetts’ medical marijuana program, patients that have been approved for a hardship cultivation registration can grow a limited amount of cannabis for medical use.

Under Question 4, adults that are aged 21 and older can grow up to six plants at home for personal use.

Massachusetts has not, however, made any changes to cultivation policy related to industrial hemp, in spite of the change in Federal policy through the “Farm bill.”


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