Given that recreational marijuana laws in Massachusetts passed way back in 2016 (after voters approved Question 4 on the ballot initiative), it may come as a surprise to some residents of the state that dispensaries have just become operational as of November 2018.
Indeed, less than a week after the opening of the first two licensed dispensaries in the state (Cultivate Holdings in Leicester and New England Treatment Access in Northampton), sales have topped well over $2 million, with much more revenue expected before the fiscal year end.
But why has it taken so long for recreational marijuana laws in Massachusetts to become operational? And what’s the difference between adult use “recreational” marijuana and other marijuana laws in Massachusetts – particularly those that pertain to the Medical Use Program?
In this article, we explain everything you could ever want to know about marijuana laws in Massachusetts, including those that apply under the adult use, as well as those that apply under the restrictive medicinal use only act.
All You Need to Know About Recreational Marijuana Laws in Massachusetts
Way back in 2016, Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker signed legislation allowing for legal (and taxable) recreational cannabis sales to take place in the state. This came almost immediately after voters passed Question 4 on the November 2016 ballot – an initiative that allowed Massachusetts to become the eighth U.S. state to legalize the use and possession of cannabis for adults over the age of 21.
However, as with most other recreationally-legal states, the process of implementing licensing applications for retail sellers, issuing commercial grow permits, etc took roughly two years from start to finish.
In other words, even though pot has technically been legal in Massachusetts since December 2016, residents of the state have only recently (as of November 20, 2018) been able to walk into a dispensary and walk out with a 100% legal baggie of marijuana.
Whether you’re a born-and-bred resident of the Pilgrim State or a visiting out-of-towner, here’s everything you need to know about recreational marijuana laws in Massachusetts:
How old do I have to be to buy weed in Massachusetts?
Adults over the age of 21 may legally purchase marijuana from a licensed dispensary. You must have an appropriate form of ID (driver’s license, passport, etc) on hand in order to purchase.
Can I buy recreational weed in Massachusetts if I live in a different state?
Yes, as long as you are over the age of 21 and have an appropriate form of identification.
Can I buy weed in Massachusetts and take it to another state?
No, transferring cannabis across state lines (even from one legalized state to another) is very much illegal.
How much weed can I buy (and/or possess)?
In Massachusetts, adults may purchase up to 1 oz of marijuana flower (buds) at a time. However, if you are a resident of the state you may legally possess up to 10 oz total in your private residence (any amount over 1 oz must be locked up in a secure location).
What type of pot is available at the dispensaries?
The following types of cannabis will be available for purchase in licensed Massachusetts dispensaries:
- Oral tinctures (i.e. cannabis oil)
- Wax concentrates (including dabs and vapes)
- Infused topical lotions
Where can I buy recreational marijuana in Massachusetts – are there any dispensaries in Boston?
As of December 2018, there are only two operation dispensaries up and running in Massachusetts: Cultivate in Leicester and New England Treatment Access (NETA) in Northampton. Surprisingly, there are not yet any operational marijuana dispensaries in Boston, though 15 provisional licenses have been issued to prospective retail dispensaries. More locations will likely be opening up throughout 2019 and beyond.
Can I grow my own weed?
Yes. Adults over the age of 21 may legally grow up to six plants in their private residence (no more than 12 plants for any one household).
What should I bring with me when I go to buy recreational weed in MA?
A valid ID – no one will be allowed entrance into a dispensary without verification of age.
[Have any additional questions or concerns about recreational marijuana laws in Massachusetts? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below!]
All You Need to Know About Medical Marijuana Laws in Massachusetts
With recreational marijuana laws in Massachusetts now passed, you may be wondering: ‘what’s the point of getting a medical ID card?
Well, for one thing medical patients are allowed access to different products than are recreational customers. Also, there are a different set of rules and regulations for MMJ patients than there are for “standard” adult-use patients, so it may be advantageous for you to go ahead and apply for a medical card, if you suffer from one of the state’s list of qualifying conditions (see below).
If you are interested in applying for a Massachusetts medical marijuana card, here is all you need to know about the official Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative:
How do I apply for medical cannabis in MA?
Anyone interested in applying for medical marijuana in Massachusetts must visit the official website for the Medical Use of Marijuana Program. Here, you will find everything you need to know in order to get started.
In short, you will need to:
- Make an appointment and visit a qualified physician in the state to get certified for MMJ use
- Receive a PIN number from a physician for online enrollment in the program
- Register and submit an application online
- Wait 1-2 weeks for your ID card to arrive in the mail (if approved)
How much does the application cost?
The state’s application fee is $50. However, additional charges and fees will likely apply for the initial physician consultation.
What are the qualifying medical conditions?
Medical marijuana laws in Massachusetts pretty much leave the discretion of who qualifies for MMJ up to the advising physician. As long as the physician deems a patient suffers from a “debilitating medical condition,” he or she may qualify for the use of medical cannabis.
Among many other things, a “debilitating medical condition” may include such ailments as:
- Any form of cancer or terminal illness
- Crohn’s Disease
- Hepatitis C
- MS (Multiple Sclerosis)
- Parkinson’s Disease
- ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
Can I grow my own cannabis with a medical marijuana card?
Yes – up to six plants for any one adult patient, or up to 12 plants for any one private residence.
Is it cheaper just to buy recreational marijuana?
This of course entirely depends on what kinds of products you’re buying, and how much you typically go through on a month-to-month basis. Generally speaking, there is not a large price discrepancy between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana in Massachusetts.
How much cannabis can I possess with a valid MMJ card?
MMJ patients may purchase up to 1 oz of cannabis at a time, or possess up to 10 oz total in their private home residence.
How often will I have to renew my MMJ card?
MMJ identification cards must be renewed on an annual (yearly) basis form the date of issuance.
Final Thoughts on Marijuana Laws in Massachusetts
All in all, marijuana laws in Massachusetts have grown by leaps and bounds over the course of the last two or so years. What once was the very first U.S. state to implement criminal penalties for the use and possession of cannabis (way back in the 19th century), has now become what many are calling “the Colorado of the East.”
Indeed, in addition to implementing one of the country’s most generous medical marijuana programs, cannabis is now accessible and legal for any adult over the age of 21. There are currently only two recreational dispensaries in operation in state, but many more will likely be added in the months and years to come.
Marijuana laws in Massachusetts are relatively straightforward compared to other states in the U.S., but it still pays to know what is – and what isn’t – legal.
Always use cannabis responsibly, and remember that public use is NOT allowed under any circumstance, nor is the transferring of medical or recreational cannabis products across state lines.
[Have any additional questions or concerns about Massachusetts marijuana laws? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!]