Massachusetts Marijuana Laws
This state has legalized marijuana for recreational and medical use.
Question 4 – Approved November 8, 2016
Question 3 (Medical) – Approved November 8, 2012
How The Law Reads:
Law: Question 2, passed in 2008, replaced previous criminal penalties with civil penalties on adults possessing an ounce or less of marijuana; Question 3, passed in 2012, legalized the use of medical marijuana in Massachusetts, and Question 4 Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization (21 and over) passed November 8, 2016.
Question 4 legalized and created a commission to regulate marijuana in Massachusetts. Previously, marijuana was only permitted for medicinal purposes. Under the new law, individuals at least 21 years old will be able to use it, grow it, and possess it. The measure stipulated that individuals could possess under ten ounces of marijuana inside their homes and under one ounce in public. They will also be able to grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes.
The measure created a regulatory structure called the Cannabis Control Commission. This body oversees marijuana legalization and issue licenses to firms that seek to sell marijuana products.
Marijuana legalization will take effect on December 15, 2016.
Previous Measures – Question 2 Approved Nov. 4, 2008 by 62.8% of voters
Nov. 4, 2008; Question 3 Approved Nov. 6, 2012 by 63% of voters
The topic of marijuana also appeared on Massachusetts ballots in 2008 and 2012. Question 2 in 2008, which was approved by nearly 30 point margin, replaced previous criminal penalties with civil penalties on adults possessing an ounce or less of marijuana. Question 3 in 2012, which was also approved by a similar margin of victory, legalized the use of medical marijuana in Massachusetts.
Who will regulate marijuana?
A regulatory structure called the Cannabis Control Commission was created with the passing of this law. It is a three-member commission. The state treasurer – currently Deb Goldberg, who opposed legalization – is tasked with making initial appointments to the commission by March 1, 2017, a deadline the Legislature could push back. The new law also creates an advisory board to the commission.
Retail pot shops could be opening in 2018, and medical marijuana shops get a leg up in the regulatory process. The ballot measure allows the commission to issue licenses until Jan. 1, 2018 first to applicants with “the most experience operating medical marijuana treatment centers and then by lottery among qualified applicants.”
How will marijuana be taxed?
Under the measure, retail marijuana will be subjected to the state sales tax with an additional 3.75 percent excise tax. If it chooses, a local municipality may add another 2 percent tax. Revenue from excise taxes, license application fees, and fines for minor violations of this law will be placed in a Marijuana Regulation Fund, which will help to pay for administrative costs of the new law.
What will penalties be?
Cultivating marijuana plants that are visible from a public place or are not properly secured would be punishable by a $300 fine and forfeiture of the marijuana; possession of too much marijuana or marijuana not secured by a lock would be punishable by a $100 fine; restrictions on public consumption would be punishable by a $100 fine; possessing an open container of marijuana in a car would be punishable by a $500 fine.
If someone under 21 is caught buying marijuana, they would be punished with a fine of $100 and a requirement to complete a drug awareness program. The parents of a marijuana user under 18 would be notified.
Approved diagnosis: “Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician.”
Possession/Cultivation: Patients may possess “no more marijuana than is necessary for the patient’s personal, medical use, not exceeding the amount necessary for a sixty-day supply…
Within 120 days of the effective date of this law, the department shall issue regulations defining the quantity of marijuana that could reasonably be presumed to be a sixty-day supply for qualifying patients, based on the best available evidence.”
“The Department shall issue a cultivation registration to a qualifying patient whose access to a medical treatment center is limited by verified financial hardship, a physical incapacity to access reasonable transportation, or the lack of a treatment center within a reasonable distance of the patient’s residence. The Department may deny a registration based on the provision of false information by the applicant. Such registration shall allow the patient or the patient’s personal caregiver to cultivate a limited number of plants, sufficient to maintain a 60-day supply of marijuana, and shall require cultivation and storage only in an enclosed, locked facility.
The department shall issue regulations consistent with this section within 120 days of the effective date of this law. Until the department issues such final regulations, the written recommendation of a qualifying patient’s physician shall constitute a limited cultivation registration.”
Department of Public Health of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108