Making Marijuana Legal in Massachusetts

By Medicine Man Technologies
Published: April 1, 2017 | Last updated: April 19, 2022 11:29:59
Presented by Medicine Man Technologies
Key Takeaways

Massachusetts’s Question 4 on the November 8 ballot squeaked by with 56 per cent approval, though it remains one of the most important states in the northeast to allow recreational marijuana. Medicine Man breaks down what comes next.

Massachusetts became one of the first states on the East Coast to legalize, tax, and regulate recreational marijuana for adult use. The November initiative won with just 56 per cent of the vote, and as of December 2016, marijuana is legal in Massachusetts and adults can use, possess, and grow cannabis for recreational use.


Like similar ballot measures, it will take time for infrastructure and policies to be developed before the first legal sales take place. At this point, applying to become a retailer through the state will start in October 2017 and could take up to 90 days to receive a response with existing medical dispensaries given priority.

As a result, it is estimated that the first legal, recreational marijuana sale will take place no earlier than January 2018. News reports from the east coast indicate that Massachusetts has a tendency to get bogged down in bureaucracy, so it will be interesting to see how things unfold in the coming months.


However, now that recreational marijuana is legal in Massachusetts, it’s time to take a look at what you need to know about the new law.

Who can buy recreational marijuana in Massachusetts and what can you have?

Adults who are 21 years of age and older will be able to purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana, though not more than five grams in the form of a concentrate. You will be able to buy marijuana to smoke, as well as edibles, oils, and ointment products.


Where can you smoke or use marijuana in Massachusetts?

At home or in another private location. It will be illegal to smoke marijuana in public spaces or anywhere tobacco smoking is banned. Language in the law does point to the possibility that cannabis cafes, where on-site use will be legal, may be opened eventually. Employers and landlords will also have the right to ban smoking or use in their buildings.

What about growing recreational cannabis in Massachusetts? Do you need a grow room?

The law allows anyone over the age of 21 to grow up to six marijuana plants. For households with more than one adult, there’s a 12-plant maximum. You will need to use a growroom that is not visible to the public and locked/secured. No outdoor gardens!


Where will you be able to buy recreational marijuana in Massachusetts?

Dispensaries will be legal in every city. However, existing medical dispensaries that want to expand will be given the first chance to enter the retail market. So, you’ll see the majority of dispensaries open in 2018 unless a community holds a referendum to ban them completely or even limit the number of cannabis retailers that are allowed to open.

Retail marijuana businesses will not be allowed within 500 feet of a school, daycare, or other child-related facility. Individual cities will again be able to impose further restrictions and boundaries.

Is recreational marijuana going to be expensive?

It really depends on the market with no set prices outlined in the new law. The biggest difference, in comparison to other retail goods, is taxes. You’ll pay an excise tax of 3.75 per cent on top of the state’s 6.25 per cent sales tax. Cities and towns can add up to another 2 per cent in taxes, for a grand total of 12 per cent in taxes. Medical sales would remain untaxed.

Where will all that recreational marijuana tax money go?

The Yes on Question 4 website stated, “Experts say that taxing marijuana sales will create $100 million in new tax revenue for vital essential services in our communities. We can use the money to strengthen our schools — smaller classes, more books, and newer technology for our children. We can also spend the money on opiate abuse prevention programs, drug awareness campaigns, or law enforcement.”

Because recreational marijuana is legal in Massachusetts, a Cannabis Control Commission will be put in place and funded by the excise tax, licensing fees, and fines collected for regulation violations. This three-member group will be managed by the treasurer’s office, which currently oversees alcohol for the state. The commission will issue licenses and establish any rules not written into the new law, including guidelines for packaging and advertising.

The election was a big step forward for sensible marijuana legalization nationwide and the entire team at Medicine Man Technologies is excited that marijuana will be legal in Massachusetts. If you decide to enter the cannabis industry, let our experts help with cultivation licensing. Like our Colorado clients, you’ll face a number of hurdles, and we can help you navigate your way to success.

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Looking to enter the marijuana market in Massachusetts? Medicine Man Technologies is here to guide you. Visit for more information.


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Written by Medicine Man Technologies | Consultant

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Medicine Man Technologies has been supporting clients around the globe through its cannabis consulting practice since 2014. With a deep wealth of knowledge and cannabis industry experience, their passionate and multi-faceted team has been dedicated to helping entrepreneurs realize their dreams of being part of the regulated cannabis industry.

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