Massachusetts law about marijuana possession

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on recreational marijuana law.

Table of Contents

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.
 

Other related laws

  • MGL c.10, §§76-77 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.
  • St.2017, c.55 An Act to ensure safe access to marijuana
    This law outlines the ability of cities and towns to exercise local control to ban or limit the development of marijuana establishments, sets the special excise tax on adult use marijuana sales to 10.75%, and includes a local option for cities and towns to add a 3% tax on top of the combined 17% between sales and the marijuana specific excise tax.

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). "[T]here was no basis on which the police could order the defendant out of the vehicle without at least some other additional fact beyond the mere odor of burnt marijuana... in light of the enactment of G. L. c. 94C, §§ 32L-32N ,..., which decriminalized possession of less than one ounce of marijuana."

Commonwealth v. Gerhardt, 477 Mass. 775 (2017)
"[T]here is as yet no scientific agreement on whether, and, if so, to what extent, [field sobriety] tests are indicative of marijuana intoxication...Neither a police officer nor a lay witness who has not been qualified as an expert may offer an opinion as to whether a driver was under the influence of marijuana." A police officer may testify, however, about his or her observations, including observations of the defendant's performance on requested behaviors. 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, in violation of G. L. c.94C, § 32C (a), where the amount of marijuana possessed is one ounce or less."

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 mere odor of burnt marijuana is insufficient cause to stop a motor 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

Cannabis Control Commission Guidance Documents. Includes:

Frequently Asked Questions about Recreational Marijuana, Cannabis Control Commission
Includes basic information about the Mass. recreational marijuana law, MGL c.94G.

How much marijuana can I possess if I'm over 21?

  • On your person — Up to 1 ounce of marijuana. No more than 5 grams of marijuana may be in the form of marijuana concentrate.
  • In your home — Up to 10 ounces of marijuana and any marijuana produced by plants cultivated on the premises

Marijuana in Massachusetts - what’s legal?, Dept. of Health
Handy brief list of limits, but without citations to the law

Marijuana retail taxes, Dept. of Revenue
Learn how to request a Certificate of Good Standing to complete the license registration process with the Cannabis Control Commission. You can also learn how to register with MassTaxConnect, file a tax return and pay taxes on the sale of adult use marijuana. File and pay other business-related taxes through MassTaxConnect, including withholding and sales tax.

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."

State Legalization of Recreational Marijuana: Selected Legal Issues, Congressional Research Service, 2014
Explores the apparent conflict between federal and state drug laws in light of legalization in Colorado and Washington for small amounts of recreational marijuana

Contact

Phone

Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only

Online

Reference librarians online Chat with a law librarian 
Reference librarians via email masslawlib@gmail.com

Address

Administrative office (no law library at this location)
2 Center Plaza
9th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Last updated: January 18, 2019
Feedback