In November of 2012, 63 percent of voters endorsed Question 3, making it the 18th state in the country to allow medical marijuana use. Under the medicinal marijuana statute, which went into effect in 2013, qualifying patients 18 years of age or older with certain debilitating medical conditions can possess and use marijuana if they have a physician certification.
Without the necessary paperwork for medicinal marijuana, the possession of marijuana in Massachusetts is against the law. However, Massachusetts decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2008.
Thankfully, Question 4 passed in the November 2016 elections, officially legalizing marijuana for recreational use for individuals 21 years of age or older. The law goes into effect on December 15, 2016 which means adults 21 years of age and older will be able to possess up to one ounce of marijuana outside of their residence and up to ten ounces of marijuana inside their residence.
The amount of medical marijuana you can purchase in Massachusetts is currently limited to a 60 day supply of up to 10 ounces from a dispensary with each prescription. You may be able to purchase more if your doctor deems it medically necessary.
While recreational marijuana was legalized in Massachusetts in December 2016, individuals 21 years of age or older will not be able purchase marijuana until recreational dispensaries open, most likely in 2018 after details have been ironed out.
Individual cities are free to regulate the hours of Massachusetts marijuana dispensaries, so times will vary. Check out our Massachusetts dispensary directory for more information.
Although medical and recreational marijuana is legal in Massachusetts, it is still illegal to consume in public. This includes public transportation, parks, schools, sidewalks and more -- so as a rule of thumb, discretion is key. Legal use is limited to private residences, including your home or the homes of your friends.
A physician certification is a document signed by a doctor who believes the benefits of using marijuana outweigh the risks in your case. The physician certification also states the debilitating condition, which may include any of the following:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn's disease
- Hepatitis C
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson's disease
- Other debilitating conditions as determined in writing by your doctor
Keep in mind that Massachusetts' medicinal marijuana law doesn't allow you to obtain a physician certification from just any physician. You and your certifying physician must have a "bona fide physician-patient relationship" in an effort to prevent doctor mills from popping up and churning out baseless medicinal marijuana certifications.
Under the law, a bona fide physician-patient relationship exists between doctors acting in the regular course of their practice and a patient with whom they've had a complete clinical visit. The doctor must complete and document an assessment of the patient's current medical conditions and medical history, explain the risks and benefits of marijuana use, and play a role in the patient's treatment and ongoing care. Typically speaking, these certifications will cost around $200 (from places like Canna Care or GreenWay Massachusetts).
You'll also need to register with the Medical Use of Marijuana Program to receive an ID card authorizing you to have medical marijuana. The registration fee is $50 unless your income falls below 300 percent of the federal poverty level. You'll need to have your Program ID Card and a state-issued photo ID with you to possess or purchase medical marijuana legally. Once your certification and registration are in order, you're allowed to possess a sixty-day supply of marijuana, or up to 10 ounces, unless your doctor determines that your condition warrants higher doses.
Driving under the Influence
Driving under the influence of marijuana in Massachusetts will result in an OUI (operating under the influence) charge, a misdemeanor for a first offense. While some states require a minimum amount of marijuana to be in your system to prove impairment, Massachusetts has no such minimum. Instead, a determination of impairment is made on a case-by-case basis. If you're convicted of an OUI, penalties range from hefty fines, license suspension, jail time and more.
Unless you are a registered medical marijuana patient, caregiver or an agent of a registered marijuana dispensary, transporting marijuana in Massachusetts is illegal. If you have a medicinal marijuana ID card, you can carry as much marijuana as your doctor prescribes you for a 60-day supply. As we said before, that limit is 10 ounces unless your doctor prescribes otherwise.
Registered caregivers may transport a patient to and from marijuana dispensaries or purchase marijuana for the patient from a dispensary and transport it to the patient. Additionally, agents of dispensaries are allowed to transport marijuana to other dispensaries, testing facilities, and to the homes of caregivers and registered patients.
Even though medical and recreational marijuana is legal in Massachusetts (and nearly half the country), marijuana is still an illegal controlled substance under federal law. This means that if you travel across state lines with it, you could be charged with a felony crime at the federal level. Similarly, you might be arrested for possession in a state that doesn't allow medical marijuana, even if you are a legally registered patient in Massachusetts.
Some states that allow medical marijuana have reciprocity with other states, which means they honor one another's medical marijuana prescriptions. However, that still doesn't mean that you can transport your marijuana across state lines. Instead, you'll likely have to register with the state you're visiting and purchase any medical marijuana you need from a dispensary in that state.
Federal Land and Properties in Massachusetts
Again, although Massachusetts allows registered, qualified patients to possess and use medical and recreational marijuana, the federal government does not. That means you could be charged with a federal crime if you're caught with marijuana on federal lands, including parks, forests, and monuments. Your medical marijuana registration card won't do you any good with federal law enforcement, so if you're visiting federal lands, keep your cannabis at home.
Massachusetts' medical marijuana law allows both registered patients and caregivers to cultivate. Registered patients may cultivate if requiring them to purchase their medical cannabis from a dispensary would result in "hardship." That means their access to dispensaries is limited by documented financial hardship, a physical inability to access transportation, or the lack of a dispensary within a reasonable distance from the patients' homes. As of 2013, patients can also get a written recommendation from their physicians to cultivate marijuana.
For those who qualify for the hardship exception, they or their caregivers may grow a limited number of marijuana plants — only as many as are sufficient to yield a 60-day supply. They can only cultivate and store their marijuana in an enclosed, locked area hidden from public view. The marijuana can be cultivated at the caregiver's primary residence or the patient's, but not both.
When recreational marijuana use (Question 4) passed in November 2016, adults 21 years of age or older are allowed to grow up to six plants in their residence.
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