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Massachusetts law about recreational marijuana

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

For information on medical marijuana, please see law about medical marijuana.

Table of Contents

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

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

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

935 CMR 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.

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.

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 information on marijuana use, sale, transportation, home cultivation, and zoning in Massachusetts

  • 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
  • Guidance for consumption of marijuana for adult use

"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."

Know the laws, Cannabis Control Commission.
Provides plain language basics about what is legal (and what is not).

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

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

What you can do about second-hand smoke, Nolo
Provides possible tactics for dealing with a neighbor who is sharing secondhand marijuana smoke.

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. 

Growing marijuana

Valley Green Grow, Inc. v. Charlton, 99 Mass. App. Ct. 670 (2021)
"The proposed cogeneration facility, incidental processing, and incidental manufacturing, when viewed as components of the entire indoor commercial horticultural use, were allowed as of right in the town's agricultural district, and there was no merit to the arguments that the principal use of the locus was light manufacturing rather than commercial horticulture."

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: June 28, 2021
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