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Marijuana in Massachusetts – what’s legal?

Table of Contents

Adult use

Marijuana is legal in Massachusetts for people 21 and older, but that doesn’t mean you can use it anywhere you want. Here are some basics about the law:

  • You can’t use marijuana in any form (smoking, vaping, edibles, etc.) in public or on federal land
  • You can have up to 1 oz on you and up to 10 oz in your home
  • You can grow up to 6 plants in your home, and up to 12 plants for 2 or more adults
  • If you have more than 1 oz of marijuana in your home, it has to be locked up. But it’s best to keep any amount locked away to keep kids and pets safe.
  • Like alcohol, you can’t have an open container of any form of marijuana in the passenger area of 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.
  • It’s illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana. If you use, don’t get behind the wheel. Instead, use public transportation, ride-shares, or catch a ride with a sober friend.
  • Employers, landlords, cities, and towns may have their own policies about the use of marijuana. Check with them to see what is legal.

For more information about the regulations that govern what you can and can’t do, how much you can grow and have, and when and where it’s okay to use, visit the Cannabis Control Commission.

Learn more about the laws governing adult use of marijuana.

Massachusetts law about marijuana

Table of Contents

Recreational marijuana

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.94G. The primary marijuana possession law.
Includes who may possess marijuana, and how much.

MGL c.94C § 32L Possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana

MGL c.94C § 32M Possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana; drug awareness program for those under 18

Other related laws
  • MGL c.10, § 76 and § 77 Cannabis Control Board and Advisory Board
  • MGL c.64N Marijuana tax
  • MGL c.94C Controlled substances act.
    Includes penalties for other drugs, trafficking or possession of larger quantities of marijuana.

Massachusetts regulations

830 CMR 64N Marijuana retail taxes

935 CMR Medical and recreational marijuana regulations

Federal laws

21 USC §§ 801-971 Drug abuse prevention and control

  • 21 USC § 844 Penalties for simple possession

18 USC § 922(g)(3) prohibits any person who uses marijuana from shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing firearms or ammunition.

Selected case law

Comm. v. Cruz, 459 Mass. 459 (2011).
Police can’t order a person out of a car just because they smell burned marijuana.

Commonwealth v. Gerhardt, 477 Mass. 775 (2017)
Talks about the use of field sobriety tests, and includes new Model Jury Instruction Regarding Roadside Assessments for Use in Prosecutions for Operating Under the Influence of Marijuana.

Comm. v. Keefner, 461 Mass. 507 (2012). The law which “decriminalized possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, did not repeal the offense of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, . where the amount of marijuana possessed is one ounce or less.”

Comm. v. Long, 482 Mass. 804 (2019)
“The overwhelming odor of unburnt marijuana wafting from a large, windowless, cinder-block warehouse, . in a place where marijuana cultivation was not allowed under State law; evidence of an apparent break-in; and two isolated vehicles parked in what police officers viewed as a suspicious manner after ordinary business hours . was sufficient to support a finding of probable cause to search a warehouse for evidence of illegal marijuana cultivation.”

Comm. v. Richardson, 479 Mass. 344 (2018)
Addresses the prosecution of a person for trafficking in marijuana where that person was legally permitted to grow marijuana for medical purposes. Includes new model jury instructions.

Comm. v. Rodriguez, 472 Mass. 767 (2015). The smell of burned marijuana isn’t enough for police to stop a vehicle.

Dispensaries

A running list of recreational marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts – and those soon to open, Boston.com
Provides information on dispensaries, including locations, hours, parking, and payment options.

Web sources

Can my financial aid be affected by marijuana use? and other marijuana-related concerns for college students, MassLive, April 2019.
Even though recreational use is legal in Massachusetts, use by college students can cause ” a major legal headache and the potential loss of financial aid if a student does not follow the law .”

Guidance on home cultivation. To grow marijuana in your home:

  • You must be at least 21 years old
  • You can only grow up to 6 plants in your home
  • If there’s more than one person over 21 living in the home who wants to grow at home, the maximum number of plants that may be grown in a home is 12 plants
  • The plants must be grown in an area that has a lock or security device
  • The plants can’t be visible from a public place without the use of binoculars, aircraft or other optical aids
  • You can’t manufacture at home marijuana or hemp by means of any liquid or gas, other than alcohol, that has a flashpoint below 100 degrees Fahrenheit

“Like alcohol, you cannot have an open container of adult-use marijuana or marijuana products in the passenger area of your car while on the road or at a place where the public has access. An “open container” includes a package with its seal broken or a package from which the contents have been partially removed. The “passenger area” does not include a trunk or a locked glove compartment.”

Print Sources

Criminal law (Mass. practice v. 32) West Group, with supplement. Section 466.50 Act establishing a sensible state marijuana policy.

Massachusetts proof of cases, West Group. Annual edition. Section 47:2, Marijuana – possession and use by adults

Medical marijuana

Massachusetts law

MGL c.94I Medical use of marijuana
Allows use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Regulations

935 CMR Cannabis Control Commission

Selected cases

Barbuto v. Advantage Sales and Marketing, LLC, 477 Mass. 456 (2017)
An employee who has been fired for using medical marijuana off-site, and not before or during work, may sue her employer for handicap discrimination.

Wright’s Case, 486 Mass. 98 (2020)
A workers’ compensation insurer cannot be compelled to pay for an employee’s medical marijuana.

Web sources

Medical use of marijuana program, Cannabis Control Commission
Includes links to information for patients, dispensaries and more.

Medical marijuana, Mass. Medical Society
Links to information on issues for physicians regarding medical marijuana

Medical marijuana dispensaries, Mass. Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
Provides the location and hours of all registered medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts.

Open letter to all Federal firearms licensees, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, September 21, 2011.
“any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.”

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on recreational and medical use of marijuana in Massachusetts.