Recreational marijuana

Massachusetts laws


1 or 10 oz. You may possess 1 oz. or have 10 oz. at home

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

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.


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

Map view of open dispensaries

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."

Cannabis and the workplace: an overview of employees rights, Boston Lawyer Blog, Zalkind, Duncan & Bernstein. A thorough discussion of employees rights in regard to drug testing and recreational and medical marijuana.  

Cannabis Control Commission guidance documents. Includes:

A look back at four years of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts,
A comprehensive timeline of the development of the marijuana industry in Massachusetts, including statistics on the impact on the economy. 

Marijuana in Massachusetts: what's legal? Provides plain language basics about what is legal (and what is not).

Recreational marijuana law: best practices for landlords, Law Office of Renee Lazar. Provides guidance on smoking and cultivating in residential tenancies.

Print Sources

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

Marijuana business operations, National Business Institute, 2019. 

Massachusetts cannabis law manual, MCLE, 2019.

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

The law & business of marijuana dispensaries, MCLE, 2018. 

Medical marijuana

Massachusetts law

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


935 CMR Cannabis Control Commission

Cannabis Control Commission Orders Quarantine on All Marijuana Vaping Products Except Medical Use Flower Vaporizers, Cannabis Control Commission, November 12, 2019.

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."



Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only


Reference librarians online Chat with a law librarian 
Reference librarians via email


Administrative office (no law library at this location)
2 Center Plaza
9th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Last updated: April 12, 2021