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MA Marijuana Laws

Updated on May 3, 2020.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 23, 2020, Massachusetts Gordered adult-use cannabis businesses to shut down, as adult-use cannabis businesses are not considered essential services in this state.

The first sales began on November 20, 2018, when two licensed retail stores began selling cannabis to adults. At the end of 2019, more than 30 stores were open. Additionally, the Cannabis Control Commission published draft regulations for home delivery and social consumption and is working to finalize those policies.

On November 8, 2016, Bay State voters approved Question 4, the historic MPP-supported ballot initiative that ended marijuana prohibition for adults 21 and older. As a result, cannabis became legal for adults to grow and possess in Massachusetts on December 15, 2016.

Health Care Professionals and Massachusetts Cannabis Laws

Protection from State prosecution and penalties for healthcare professionals. Physicians, and other health care professionals under a physician’s supervision, shall not be penalized under Massachusetts cannabis laws, 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.

The Massachusetts Medical Society has put together resources for physicians, such as a 16-step course for medical professionals to learn more about the effects of medical marijuana on the body.

Qualifying Patients/Personal Caregivers and Massachusetts Cannabis Laws

Any 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 the use of marijuana.

Dispensary Agents and Massachusetts Cannabis Laws

Protection From State prosecution and penalties for dispensary agents. Dispensary agents 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.

Massachusetts 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.

Massachusetts Marijuana Possession Penalties

The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act regulates the possession, production, and distribution of marijuana in the same way the state handles alcohol, for persons 21 years of age and older. Although marijuana may not be used in public, under the law:

  • Adults 21 years of age or older may possess one ounce of marijuana for their personal use when outside their residences, and up to ten ounces (must be in a locked space) inside their residences.
  • These adults may grow up to six marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked space within their homes, and may keep the marijuana produced by these plants in their residences.
  • It remains illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana, and marijuana cannot be carried in an open container in a vehicle’s passenger area.
  • Employers are still at liberty to set and enforce drug use policies.

Massachusetts Marijuana Intent to Sell Penalties

  1. Possessing 50-99 pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute is a felony punishable by a fine of $500-$10000 and imprisonment for 2.5-15 years. There is a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year for this offense.
  2. Possessing 100-1,999 pounds if marijuana with intent to distribute is a felony punishable by a fine of $2,500-$25,000 and imprisonment for 3-15 years. There is a mandatory minimum term of three years imprisonment.
  3. Possessing 2,000-9,999 pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute is a felony punishable by a fine of $5,000-$50,000
  4. Possessing more than 10,000 pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute is a felony punishable by a fine of $5,000-$50,000 and imprisonment of 10-15 years. There is a mandatory minimum term of 10 years of imprisonment for this offense.

Massachusetts Marijuana Cultivation Penalties

  1. Selling or cultivating 50-99 pounds of marijuana is a felony punishable by a fine of $500-$10000 and imprisonment for 2.5-15 years. There is a mandatory minimum term of 1 year for this offense.
  2. Selling or cultivating 100-1,999 pounds of marijuana is a felony punishable by a fine of $2,500-$25,000 and imprisonment for 3-15 years. There is a mandatory minimum term of three years imprisonment.
  3. Selling or cultivating 2,000-9,999 pounds of marijuana with is a felony punishable by a fine of $5,000-$50,000 and is punishable by imprisonment for 5-15 years.
  4. Selling or cultivating more than 10,000 pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute is a felony punishable by a fine of $20,000-$200,000 and imprisonment for 10-15 years. There is a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for this offense.

Massachusetts Marijuana Paraphernalia Penalties

  1. Selling or cultivating more than 10,000 pounds of marijuana with intent to distribute is a felony punishable by a fine of $20,000-$200,000 and imprisonment for 10-15 years. There is a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for this offense.

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Offense

Penalty

Incarceration

Max. Fine

Possession

Personal Use
1 oz. or less Civil Offense

N/A

$100

More than 1 oz. (First Offense) Misdemeanor

6 months

$500

More than 1 oz. (Subsequent Offense) Misdemeanor

2 years

$2,000

Intent to Distribute
Less than 50 lbs. (First Offense)

Not Classified

0-2 years

$5,000

Less than 50 lbs. (Subsequent Offense)

Not Classified

1-2.5 years

$10,00

50 lbs to 99 lbs.

Felony

*1-15 years

$10,000

100 lbs. to 1,999 lbs.

Felony

*3-15 years

$25,000

2000 lbs. to 9,999 lbs.

Felony

*5-15 years

$50,000

More than 10,000 lbs.

Felony

*10-15 years

$50,000

Within 1000 feet of an elementary or secondary school, or within 100 feet of a public park.

Felony

*2-15 years

$10,000

Causing or inducing someone under 18 years to commit offenses.

Felony

*5-15 years

$100,000

* Mandatory minimum sentence.

Distribution or Cultivation

Less than 50 lbs. (First Offense)

Not Classified

0-2 years

$5,000

Less than 50 lbs. (Subsequent Offense

Not Classified

1-2.5 years

$10,000

50 lbs to 99 lbs.

Felony

*1-15 years

$10,000

100 lbs. to 1,999 lbs.

Felony

*3-15 years

$25,000

2000 lbs. to 9,999 lbs.

Felony

*5-15 years

$50,000

More than 10,000 lbs.

Felony

*10-15 years

$200,000

Within 1000 feet of an elementary or secondary school, or within 100 feet of a public park.

Felony

*2-15 years

$10,000

Causing or inducing someone under 18 years to commit offenses.

Felony

*5-15 years

$100,000

* Mandatory minimum sentence.

Hash & Concentrates

Possession of 1 oz. or less

Civil Penalty

N/A

$100

Possession of more than 1 oz.

N/A

1 years

$1,000

Manufacture or distribution

N/A

2.5-5 years

$5,000

Manufacture or distribution to a minor

N/A

2.5-15 years

$25,000

Using a minor to manufacture or distribute

N/A

5*-15 years

$100,000

* Mandatory minimum sentence.

Paraphernalia

Selling, possessing, or purchasing paraphernalia.

Not Classified

1-2 years

$5,000

Selling to someone less than 18 years of age.

Felony

3-5 years

$5,000

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