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 MJ, 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.

Request a non-time-based expungement of your criminal record, Mass. Court System.

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

830 CMR 64N Marijuana retail taxes

935 CMR Recreational marijuana regulations


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

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 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. Cruz, 459 Mass. 459 (2011)
Police can't order a person out of a car just because they smell burned marijuana.

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)
"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.

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."

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."

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

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

Print sources

5th annual cannabis law conference 2021, by Adam D. Fine, MCLE, 2021.

Cannabis & hemp: the law & business 6 months later, by Adam D. Fine, MCLE, 2018.

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.

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, 2019.

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.

Medical marijuana meets Massachusetts real estate, land use & zoning law, by Adam D. Fine, MCLE, 2015.

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


Last updated: May 22, 2023

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