Massachusetts Cannabis Laws
Is Cannabis Legal In Massachusetts?
Looking for other state cannabis laws? Click Here!
Is recreational cannabis legal in Massachusetts?
Yes. Massachusetts has been at the forefront of recreational adult-use legalization, especially on the east coast. As early as 2008, voters passed a decriminalization bill for a small amount of possession of cannabis.
Less than a decade later Massachusetts voters passed a ballot initiative, Question 4, legalizing adult-use recreational cannabis in 2016. With this law, citizens over the age of 21 legally can possess and purchase up to one ounce, grow up to six plants per household, or twelve for those with more than one adult. It is still illegal to smoke on public property including in parks and on the street.
It took a few years due to bureaucratic and politically charged (Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker opposed the voter-approved bill) delays for recreational licensing programs to be formed. Still, Massachusetts cannabis retail stores opened in 2018. While recreational use is legal throughout the state, localities have the power to ban permits and stores with a majority vote. There are currently 106 towns in Massachusetts that prohibit cannabis retail sales. To see if there are any licensed retailers in your town, check out Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission here.
In the first couple of months since cannabis retailers opened, Massachusetts consumers purchased as much as $24 million in cannabis products. As of 2020, there are about 35 licensed recreational retailers in the state, with more intended to open to keep up with demand.
Is Medical Marijuana legal in Massachusetts?
Yes. Massachusetts voters legalized medical marijuana in 2012 with 63% approval of Question 3, the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative. With a physician’s recommendation, patients with cancer, glaucoma, and other medical conditions can receive a registration card and possess up to two months of medical marijuana supply. After the passing of, towns attempted to ban dispensaries, but the state denied this request stating it would conflict with the law; therefore, towns only have the power to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.
Are CBD products legal in Massachusetts?
Yes. Since the passage of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, hemp-derived CBD products are legal under federal law in the United States, as long as they contain at most 0.3% THC.
Any and all CBD in food and drink is still federally illegal.
What’s Massachusetts‘s recreational cannabis sales tax?
6.25%. This is the state retail tax for all products, including recreational use cannabis.
What’s Massachusetts‘s medical marijuana sales tax?
To a qualifying patient, sales of medical marijuana with a written certification by a licensed physician are usually exempt. (0%).
Are there any other Massachusetts cannabis tax rates?
Yes. State Excise Tax on Retail sales: 10.75%
Is cannabis delivery legal in Massachusetts?
Yes. While home delivery has been part of Massachusett’s medical marijuana program for a while, the recreational market just caught up in late 2020. Recreational adult-use delivery became legal when the Cannabis Control Commission approved new regulations, including home delivery.
Delivery services are still subject to local limits based on time, place, and delivery (operating hours and delivery locations).
Massachusett’s Cannabis Timeline:
1911: Massachusetts prohibited all forms of cannabis.
1937: The Marihuana (archaic spelling of Marijuana) Tax Act was enacted banning cannabis at the federal level. Medical Marijuana use was still permitted.
1951: The Boggs Act, Sponsored by Hale Boggs and signed into law under President Harry S. Truman, This act set mandatory sentencing and increased punishment for cannabis possession.
1969: The Marihuana Tax Act is deemed unconstitutional in the landmark Leary v. United States. Timothy Leary, a professor, and activist was arrested for the possession of marijuana in violation of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act. Leary then challenged the act on the ground that the act required self-incrimination, which violated his Fifth Amendment rights. (The self-incrimination clause provides various protections against self-incrimination, including the right of an individual to not serve as a witness in a criminal case in which they are the defendant, better known as “Pleading the Fifth.”) The unanimous opinion of the court was penned by Justice John Marshall Harlan II and declared the Marihuana Tax Act unconstitutional. Therefore, Leary’s conviction was overturned.
1970: The Controlled Substances Act is enacted (replacing the unconstitutional Marihuana Tax Act). Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, determined to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, thereby prohibiting its use for any purpose. This act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
This legislation created five classifications, with specific qualifications for a substance to be included in each. The substances scheduling (classification) are determined by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Yet, Congress does have the power to schedule or de-schedule substances through legislation. Substance scheduling decisions are based on its potential for abuse, accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and international treaties.
Classification of Controlled Substances:
Schedule I: High potential of abuse, not acceptable for medical use
Schedule II: High potential of abuse, sometimes allowed with “severe restrictions” for medical use
Schedule II: Medium potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use
Schedule IV: Moderate potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use
Schedule V: Lowest potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use
1984-1986: Mandatory Sentencing and the three-strikes law were created under the Reagan Administration. This accounts for some of the harshest drug laws created including mandatory 25-year imprisonment for certain drug offenses and the promotion of the death penalty to be used against “drug kingpins.”
1998: House Joint Resolution 117, encouraged by the passing of California’s Prop 215, the House of Representatives passed this measure to support the existing Federal legal process for determining the safety and efficacy of certain drugs.
2008: Massachusetts voters decriminalized a small amount of possession of cannabis.
2012: Question 3, the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative. Massachusetts voters legalized medical marijuana.
2014: The Rohrabacher–Farr Amendment passed in the U.S. House and signed into law prohibiting the Justice Department from interfering with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.
2016: Question 4, Massachusetts voters legalized recreational use of cannabis.
2018: Massachusetts recreational adult-use retail stores open.
2018: Farm bill legalizes low-THC hemp nationwide and effectively de-schedules hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) from the Controlled Substances Act.
November 2020: Massachusetts Cannabis Contol Commission approves home delivery for recreational adult-use.