Massachusetts law about recreational marijuana

Laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on recreational use of marijuana.

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Table of Contents

Best bets

Adult-use marijuana, Mass. Cannabis Control Commission.
Resources outlining Massachusetts laws regarding Recreational Marijuana including information on: who can buy, who can use, how much you can carry on you, how much you can grow, where you can legally consume, a dispensary list, how to store marijuana, and violations and penalties.

Can I be fired because I use medical marijuana for a disability?,
Addresses conversations regarding medical marijuana and employment law. See also: Workplace drug testing and Off-duty marijuana use.

More about marijuana, Mass. Cannabis Control Commission.
Resources with educational information regarding: marijuana 101; health effects and safety; marijuana and pregnancy; how to talk to children and teens about marijuana; and growing marijuana and making products at home.

Massachusetts laws

MGL c. 94G Regulation of the use and distribution of marijuana not medically prescribed
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

MGL c. 276, § 100K 1/4 Expungement of record resulting from marijuana cultivation, possession, and/or distribution (effective November 9th, 2022)

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. 18, § 5I Retailers are prohibited from accepting EBT cards as payment for recreational marijuana purchases
  • 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

400 CMR 8 Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund

830 CMR 64N Marijuana retail taxes

935 CMR Recreational marijuana regulations

935 CMR 500 Adult use of marijuana

  • 935 CMR 500.100 Dispensary within 500 feet of a school
  • 935 CMR 500.140 Age requirements and ID verification for retail sales establishments
  • 935 CMR 500.150(4) Limits on dosing potency for edibles

Sealing or expunging marijuana offenses

Marijuana pardons, Mass. Governor.
Read frequently asked questions about the pardons or apply for a marijuana pardon certificate, which may help further remove civil or legal restrictions due to a conviction.

Petition for expungement of marijuana offenses form, Massachusetts Court System.
This form can be used to petition the court for expungement of marijuana offenses that were based on now decriminalized amounts of marijuana.

Petition to seal conviction records form, Massachusetts Probation Service. 
This form can be used to petition the court to seal records.

Sealing or expunging marijuana cases, Mass. Legal Help, 2019.
Information on sealing or expunging marijuana cases.

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

A proclamation on granting pardon for the offense of simple possession of marijuana, attempted simple possession of marijuana, or use of marijuana, December 22, 2023.
Federal offenses only. Grants full, unconditional, and categorical pardon of additional federal and D.C. offenses of simple possession, attempted possession, and use of marijuana. Extends the relief provided by the original October 6, 2022 proclamation to cover simple marijuana possession offenses committed on or before December 22, 2023.

  • For more information, see the Office of the Pardon Attorney's website for a full explanation of the October 6, 2022 and December 22, 2023 presidential proclamations and instructions on how to apply for a pardon.

Selected cases

Commcan Inc v. town of Mansfield, 488 Mass. 291 (2021) and West Street Associates, LLC v. Mansfield Planning Board, 488 Mass. 319 (2021)
Both of these cases address that local town’s zoning laws that attempted to exclude marijuana businesses from operating. See also: Pot shop scores key zoning victories in Massachusetts high court.

Comm. 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. K.W., 490 Mass. 619 (2022)
People previously arrested for cannabis crimes that have since been legalized are entitled to "a strong presumption in favor of expungement." This ruling eases the way to expunging old charges.

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)
Discusses what may lead to sufficient probable cause in searches connected to illegal marijuana cultivation.

Comm. v. Rodriguez, 472 Mass. 767 (2015)
The smell of burned marijuana isn't enough for police to stop a vehicle.

Valley Green Grow, Inc. v. Charlton, 99 Mass. App. Ct. 670 (2021)
Discusses agriculture and horticulture zoning considerations in marijuana establishments.

Web sources

ABCC advisory regarding cannabis in alcoholic beverages, Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.
It is unlawful to "manufacture and/or sell alcoholic beverages containing any cannabinoid extracts, including tetrahydrocannabinol ("THC") and cannabidiol ("CBD"), regardless of whether it is derived from the cannabis plant or industrial hemp."

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."

Dealing with secondhand smoke in your Massachusetts home,
Provides possible tactics and options for dealing with a neighbor who is sharing secondhand marijuana smoke.

Massachusetts recreational marijuana law: Best practices for landlords, The Massachusetts Real Estate Blog.
Provides guidance on smoking and cultivating in residential tenancies.

Print sources

6th annual cannabis law conference 2022, by Adam D. Fine, MCLE, 2022.

Cannabis law: a primer on federal and state law regarding marijuana, hemp, and CBD, edited by Barak Cohen, ABA, 2021.

The impact of recent marijuana laws on public law, by the Massachusetts Bar Association. Public Law Section, MBA, 2018.

Joint tenancies: property leasing in cannabis commerce, by Michael N. Widener, ABA, 2018.

Labor & employment law issues unique to the cannabis industry, by Matthew D Freeman, MCLE, 2022.

The law & business of marijuana dispensaries, by Adam D. Fine, MCLE, 2018.

Marijuana and the law, by Joseph D. Bernard and Erica M. Bruno, West, 2022.

Marijuana law in a nutshell, by Mark K. Osbeck, West, 2022.

Marijuana law: a legal research guide, by Carol A. Fichtelman, Hein, 2021.

Massachusetts cannabis law manual, edited by Adam D. Fine, MCLE, 2023.

Massachusetts marijuana business law 2021 - section I: the legalization landscape- regulatory compliance and licensing, by Katherine J Bierwas, NBI, 2021.

Massachusetts marijuana business law 2021 - section II: business & tax planning, by Charlotte Cathro, NBI, 2021.

Massachusetts marijuana business law 2021 - section III: business financing & product packaging, by Adam D. Fine, NBI, 2021.

The new marijuana law: impacts on the workplace, by the Massachusetts Bar Association. Labor & Employment Law Section, MBA, 2017.

Contact   for Massachusetts law about recreational marijuana

Last updated: April 4, 2024

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