With a wave of legalization sweeping the nation, the 2016 election saw the passing of a ballot initiative that made recreational cannabis legal in Massachusetts.
Marijuana Laws in Massachusetts
As of July 2018, you can legally buy, possess, and enjoy marijuana – with restrictions:
- You may possess up to one ounce at a time.
- No smoking is allowed while driving, and any weed in the vehicle must be locked up and not visible.
- Adults may grow up to six plants per household (or twelve plants for households with more than one adult), but the plants cannot be visible from the street.
- Each household can store up to ten ounces of pot that is purchased, or more if the harvest is from a home crop.
- You can smoke on private property… but only on property where it’s allowed (some landlords, for example, prohibit it).
- You cannot smoke marijuana anywhere in public, including parks and sidewalks.
- Unlicensed sales, including barter, are illegal for the seller, but not for the buyer. Under state law, it’s illegal to sell marijuana without a license.
- Gifting marijuana is allowed.
- Consumers can buy seeds and clones at dispensaries.
Weed can be purchased for recreational use at dispensaries with a recreational license (currently there are only a few). The low number of recreational dispensaries is due to several factors:
- Several medical dispensaries have made promises to their communities to remain medical-only. Some are finding it difficult to make the switch into offering both medical and recreational pot.
- Many communities within Massachusetts have put moratoriums in place on recreational dispensaries.
- A marijuana plant takes up to 6 months to mature, and operators cannot plant their clones or seeds until they are licensed, which means that many are expected to open for business toward the end of 2018.
For those in communities without recreational dispensaries, a medical card is an option, albeit a slow and expensive one that requires a recommendation from a physician, paperwork, and up to $250 in physician consultations and state fees.
The price of marijuana in Massachusetts depends on supply and demand. Currently, ⅛ ounce retails for around $50. In states that legalized marijuana and where there’s competition, the prices have dropped, as they are expected to in Massachusetts as well.
Taxes will remain high, at 17%, and municipalities may impose an additional 3% local tax. No taxes apply to medical marijuana sold to registered patients.
The state’s Cannabis Control Commission has for now postponed the licensure of “social consumption” businesses that would allow patrons to smoke marijuana on site – but this is easily circumvented by enjoying edibles.
When it comes to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, it’s more complicated. The Massachusetts medical marijuana law states that a dispensary must be available in every county. Each island is its own county. However, since the islands are separated from the mainland by federal waters, shipping mainland-grown product to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard is difficult; and since all retail marijuana requires testing in state labs… which are on the mainland… it’s a legal quagmire that must be enough to make anyone want to smoke a joint!