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Massachusetts Cannabis Facts

Updated on April 25, 2018.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Even though nearly two million voters approved an initiative in 2016 to legalize weed, the hard marijuana facts for Massachusetts are that certain politicians were trying to impact implementation of the state’s medical weed program at the start of the 2017 legislative session. Not only were they trying to reduce the amount of weed that can legally be possessed, but they wanted to make it illegal to use edible forms of cannabis for two years as well. They also wanted to increase the legal age limit to 25, restructure the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission and leave the establishment of marijuana dispensaries up to local municipalities.

Marijuana Facts for Massachusetts

  • Nearly sixty-three percent of Massachusetts voters approved Question #3 on November 6th, 2012 after voting on a statewide ballot. Question #3 was brought before Massachusetts voters as an “Initiative Petition for a law for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana”.
  • The “Initiative Petition for a law for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana” became a law and was enacted into effect on January 1st, 2013. The Massachusetts Department of Health Care Safety & Quality has now issued regulations that are set in place until indicated otherwise. Until final regulations have been fully implemented, the state cannot allow medical marijuana dispensaries to open and the state Department of Health cannot issue any patient medical marijuana identification cards.
  • It wasn’t until June 24, 2015 that the first medical marijuana dispensary finally opened in Massachusetts — more than two years after Question 3 was approved. Even though the initiative allowed for as many as 35 dispensaries to be established in the state, only seven had been opened. As a result, many patients had to continue to go without the safe medicine they needed to address many of their symptoms.
  • The medical use provisions in the state of Massachusetts does not include reciprocity provisions that protect visitors from other medical marijuana states to obtain or carry medicine.
  • Nothing in the Massachusetts State law authorizes marijuana under federal law. Most patients are unaware that any amount of medical marijuana is technically illegal under federal law. The Executive office has made it very clear that they are not interested in prosecuting those that are lawfully participating in states’ medical marijuana programs.
  • Physicians in the state of Massachusetts may authorize cannabis as an alternative treatment for patients who suffer from conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, positive status for HIV or AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s primary care physician.
  • Currently, no health insurance provider or government agency is willing to reimburse any person for the expense of the medical use of marijuana. This means that those who purchase marijuana as medicine and those who see a physician to receive doctor’s written recommendation, are not able to claim this through their health insurance provider.

Though recreational marijuana was legalized in 2016, there are still quite a few limitations for marijuana users in Massachusetts. For example, retail sales haven’t begun yet in Massachusetts, as no one can sell recreational pot without a retail license. Public consumption of marijuana in any form is still illegal. It is also prohibited to use any marijuana products anywhere public tobacco use is prohibited.

Please check back with for more medical marijuana facts for Massachusetts and the rest of the United States. We will continue to keep track of this important issue and keep you updated.

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