Is Recreational Weed Legal in Massachusetts?

Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
August 9, 2021
Massachusetts Cannabis Legal
Massachusetts Cannabis Legal

Yes, the Commonwealth State allows both adult-use recreational weed/marijuana and medical marijuana as per the law.  Recreational weed laws in Massachusetts were passed in 2017, hence it’s legal.


History of Weed Laws

Going back in time to November of 2012, the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative appeared as question 3 on the election ballot and was passed by voters.  As a result, the Massachusetts Medical Use of Marijuana Program was established, which was first regulated by the Massachusetts Department of Health.


In November of 2016, voters passed the Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative (Question 4).  This effectively legalized recreational marijuana use for those 21 or older in the state, and the Cannabis Control Commission was developed to regulate and oversee the marijuana trade.  In July of 2017, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law H 3818 after some debate between members of legislature.  In November of 2018, recreational marijuana retail began.


Part of the law states that recreational cannabis is to be taxed 6.25%, with individual cities being permitted to add to the tax for a maximum of 20%.  Meanwhile, medical marijuana has remained free of tax.  The law also gave individual municipalities the right to ban retail within their territories such as Boston, Worcester, Plymouth, Lowell, Fall River, New Bedford, and even Quincy.


Where Can a Person Legally Purchase Weed in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, medical marijuana patients are permitted to purchase up to 60 days’ worth of marijuana from a state-licensed dispensary, and the amount that can be purchased at one time is a maximum of 10 ounces, although a certified healthcare provider may request that the state approve a higher amount for a specific patient who needs advanced care.  Medical marijuana delivery services are permitted by the state so that patients can have cannabis delivered to their home.  Patients are exempt from paying sales tax on marijuana products.


Adults who are at least 21 years old are permitted to purchase up to an ounce of cannabis or up to 5 grams of concentrate from a marijuana retailer who has a license from the state.  Recreational cannabis products have a sales tax of 6.25%, along with a 10.75% state excise tax, while individual municipalities can impose an additional 3% maximum.  Therefore, recreational users may end up paying a high amount of taxes on cannabis.


Where Can Cannabis Legally Be Used?

Massachusetts permits cannabis use on private property, and prohibits smoking, vaping, and eating cannabis in public.  While cannabis use is technically banned in public, this is loosely enforced, and the state recognizes the rights of individual jurisdictions to determine whether or not cannabis can be used in certain hospitality venues.


Anywhere in which tobacco smoking is prohibited does not allow a person to smoke or vape cannabis.  It is legal to carry cannabis in a vehicle as long as the container is closed and is in the trunk of the car or a locked glove compartment.  However, driving under the influence of marijuana is strictly illegal and can lead to DUI charges.  Drivers and passengers are both prohibited from using marijuana in a vehicle. 


MA Commission offers a fact sheet on adult consumption in Massachusetts.


Possession Laws

Any adult 21 or older, or an authorized medical patient, can possess up to 10 ounces of cannabis within their homes, but can only possess up to a single ounce when in public.  Medical patients are permitted to have a 60-day supply of cannabis concentrate, while recreational users can have an ounce of concentrate at a time in public, or 1.5 ounces at home. 


Can Residents Grow Their Own?

Any resident of at least 21 years of age can legally grow 6 plants per person, or 12 plants per multi-person household, under regulatory growing guidelines set forth by the state’s cannabis commission.  This amount does not count toward the 10-ounce possession limit.


Qualified patients and caregivers can submit an application to the state in order to cultivate cannabis from home and can cultivate as many plants as necessary to provide a 60-day supply.


MA Commission offers guidelines on growing cannabis at home in compliance with the law.


Medical Marijuana

A patient can apply for the state’s medical marijuana program by registering with the Medical Use of Marijuana Program and filling out an application form.  For patients to be approved, they must have a diagnosis from a licensed physician and have a certification that recommends marijuana as a form of treatment.  Registration is renewed each year, and this applies to both patients and authorized caregivers.  However, an ID card is valid for 3 years. 


Patients and caregivers are not charged a fee for registering or renewing their registration, but patients are required to maintain an active certification from their physician.


Qualifying Conditions:

  • ALS
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease


Patient Qualifications:

For a patient to qualify, they must have been diagnosed with one of the above conditions and have received certification from their doctor.


How to Register for Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts

First, a patient needs a certification from a physician that state that the patient has one of the qualifying conditions and can benefit from marijuana use.  Then, the patient must submit an application to the state that includes this certification, along with a PIN number provided by the physician.  A state-issued ID must be provided along with a recent photo that follows registry guidelines.


Qualifying as a Caregiver

A patient can request a primary caregiver, who must be at least 21 years old and can only care for a single patient.  Patients who are under the age of 18 can have two caregivers. 


Registering as a Caregiver

To register as a caregiver, you must apply through the state’s application process with the patient’s PIN number.  You must provide a valid state-issued ID and a recent photo that adheres to photo guidelines provided by this state.


Reciprocity Laws

Massachusetts law does not permit reciprocity, meaning that medical patients from out of state are not permitted to buy cannabis in a medical dispensary regardless of their status in their home state.  However, recreational users can legally purchase from a dispensary even if they live out of state, as long as they are at least 21 years of age.


Licensing Laws

The state requires that all cannabis products are tested by a third-party lab for safety, quality, potency, and authenticity.  Further, all vaping products are tested for vitamin E acetate.


Frequently Asked Questions

#1: When Did Weed Become Legalized?

Marijuana has been legal for adult recreational use since 2017.


#2: Is Dabbing Legal in Massachusetts?

Dabbing is legal in the state, and you can possess up to 5 grams of THC concentrates at a time.


#3: Can I Have Weed Delivered to My Home?

Marijuana delivery is available in the state, but not all dispensaries provide it, nor do all municipalities allow it.  You can ask your local dispensary for more information.


#4: Can I Smoke Weed in Public?

It’s illegal to smoke marijuana in public in the state.  This applies to vaping products as well.


#5: Can I Drive After Consuming Cannabis?

Driving while under the influence of cannabis is strictly forbidden in the Bay and can come with some harsh penalties.


#6: Can I Grow My Own?

It’s legal to grow your own cannabis in Massachusetts, as long as you are at least 21 years of age and have private property, or permission from your landlord.