Legal States

Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Laws

The Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Act

The citizens of Massachusetts intend that there should be no punishment under state law for qualifying patients, physicians and health care professionals, personal caregivers for patients, or medical marijuana treatment center agents for the medical use of marijuana, as defined herein.

Health Care Professionals and the Cannabis Laws of MA

Protection from State Prosecution and Penalties for Health Care Professionals A physician, and other health care professionals under a physician’s supervision, shall not be penalized under Massachusetts law, in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, for:

  • Advising a qualifying patient about the risks and benefits of medical use of marijuana; or
  • Providing a qualifying patient with written certification, based upon a full assessment of the qualifying patient's medical history and condition, that the medical use of marijuana may benefit a particular qualifying patient.

Qualifying Patients/Personal Caregivers and the Cannabis Laws of MA

Protection From State Prosecution and Penalties for Qualifying Patients and Personal CaregiversAny person meeting the requirements under this law shall not be penalized under Massachusetts law in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, for such actions.  A qualifying patient or a personal caregiver shall not be subject to arrest or prosecution, or civil penalty, for the medical use of marijuana provided he or she:

  • Possesses no more marijuana than is necessary for the patient's personal, medical use, not exceeding the amount necessary for a sixty-day supply; and
  • Presents his or her registration card to any law enforcement official who questions the patient or caregiver regarding use of marijuana.

Dispensary Agents and the Cannabis Laws of MA

Protection From State Prosecution and Penalties for Dispensary Agents. A dispensary agent shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or civil penalty, under Massachusetts law, for actions taken under the authority of a medical marijuana treatment center, provided he or she:

  • Presents his or her registration card to any law enforcement official who questions the agent concerning their marijuana related activities; and
  • Is acting in accordance with all the requirements of this law.

Protection Against Forfeiture and Arrest 

  • The lawful possession, cultivation, transfer, transport, distribution, or manufacture of medical marijuana as authorized by this law shall not result in the forfeiture or seizure of any property.
  • No person shall be arrested or prosecuted for any criminal offense solely for being in the presence of medical marijuana or its use as authorized by this law.

Limitations of the Medical Marijuana Laws in Massachusetts

    1. Nothing in this law allows the operation of a motor vehicle, boat, or aircraft while under the influence of marijuana.
    2. Nothing in this law requires any health insurance provider, or any government agency or authority, to reimburse any person for the expenses of the medical use of marijuana.
    3. Nothing in this law requires any health care professional to authorize the use of medical marijuana for a patient.
    4. Nothing in this law requires any accommodation of any on-site medical use of marijuana in any place of employment, school bus or on school grounds, in any youth center, in any correctional facility, or of smoking medical marijuana in any public place.
    5. Nothing in this law supersedes Massachusetts law prohibiting the possession, cultivation, transport, distribution, or sale of marijuana for nonmedical purposes.
    6. Nothing in this law requires the violation of federal law or purports to give immunity under federal law.


  • Nothing in this law poses an obstacle to federal enforcement of federal law.Section 8.  Department to define presumptive 60-day supply for qualifying patients. Within 120 days of the effective date of this law, the department shall issue regulations defining the quantity of marijuana that could reasonably be presumed to be a sixty-day supply for qualifying patients, based on the best available evidence.  This presumption as to quantity may be overcome with evidence of a particular qualifying patient's appropriate medical use.


Registering Nonprofit Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers

  •  Medical marijuana treatment centers shall register with the department.
  •  Not later than ninety days after receiving an application for a nonprofit medical marijuana treatment center, the department shall register the nonprofit medical marijuana treatment center to acquire, process, possess, transfer, transport, sell, distribute, dispense, and administer marijuana for medical use, and shall also issue a cultivation registration if:

1. The prospective nonprofit medical marijuana treatment center has submitted:

(a) An application fee in an amount to be determined by the department consistent with Section 13 of this law.

(b) An application, including:

(i) The legal name and physical address of the treatment center and the physical address of one additional location, if any, where marijuana will be cultivated.

(ii) The name, address and date of birth of each principal officer and board member.

(c) Operating procedures consistent with department rules for oversight, including cultivation and storage of marijuana only in enclosed, locked facilities.

2. None of the principal officers or board members has served as a principal officer or board member for a medical marijuana treatment center that has had its registration certificate revoked.

  • In the first year after the effective date, the Department shall issue registrations for up to thirty-five non-profit medical marijuana treatment centers, provided that at least one treatment center shall be located in each county, and not more than five shall be located in any one county. In the event the Department determines in a future year that the number of treatment centers is insufficient to meet patient needs, the Department shall have the power to increase or modify the number of registered treatment centers.
  •  A medical treatment center registered under this section, and its dispensary agents registered under Section 10, shall not be penalized or arrested under Massachusetts law for acquiring, possessing, cultivating, processing, transferring, transporting, selling, distributing, and dispensing marijuana, products containing marijuana, and related supplies and educational materials, to qualifying patients or their personal caregivers.

Registering Medical Marijuana Dispensary Agents

  •  A dispensary agent shall be registered with the Department before volunteering or working at a medical marijuana treatment center.
  •  A treatment center must apply to the Department for a registration card for each affiliated dispensary agent by submitting the name, address and date of birth of the agent.
  •  A registered nonprofit medical marijuana treatment center shall notify the department within one business day if a dispensary agent ceases to be associated with the center, and the agent’s registration card shall be immediately revoked.
  •  No one shall be a dispensary agent who has been convicted of a felony drug offense. The Department is authorized to conduct criminal record checks with the Department of Criminal Justice Information to enforce this provision.

Growing Medical Marijuana for Qualified Patients with Hardship

  • The Department shall issue a cultivation registration to a qualifying patient whose access to a medical treatment center is limited by verified financial hardship, a physical incapacity to access reasonable transportation, or the lack of a treatment center within a reasonable distance of the patient’s residence.
  • The Department may deny a registration based on the provision of false information by the applicant. Such registration shall allow the patient or the patient’s personal caregiver to cultivate a limited number of plants, sufficient to maintain a 60-day supply of marijuana, and shall require cultivation and storage only in an enclosed, locked facility.
  • The department shall issue regulations consistent with this section within 120 days of the effective date of this law. Until the department issues such final regulations, the written recommendation of a qualifying patient’s physician shall constitute a limited cultivation registration.

Penalties for Fraudulent Acts with Medicinal Marijuana

  • The department, after a hearing, may revoke any registration card issued under this law for a willful violation of this law. The standard of proof for revocation shall be a preponderance of the evidence. A revocation decision shall be reviewable in the Superior Court. 
  • The fraudulent use of a medical marijuana registration card or cultivation registration shall be a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in the house of correction, or a fine up to $500, but if such fraudulent use is for the distribution, sale, or trafficking of marijuana for non-medical use for profit it shall be a felony punishable by up to 5 years in state prison or up to two and one half years in the house of correction.


The Department of Public Health shall maintain a confidential list of the persons issued medical marijuana registration cards. Individual names and other identifying information on the list shall be exempt from the provisions of Massachusetts Public Records Law, M.G.L. Chapter 66, section 10, and not subject to disclosure, except to employees of the department in the course of their official duties and to Massachusetts law enforcement officials when verifying a card holder’s registration.