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MA Dispensary Guide

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Massachusetts Regulated Cannabis Program Overview

Type of program: Medical and Recreational

Medical Marijuana Program Overview

In Nov. 2012, the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative or Question 3, was voter-approved. This initiative established the Massachusetts Medical Use of Marijuana Program. The program was initially organized, regulated, and administered by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Patients with qualifying conditions in the state of Massachusetts were allowed to register with the Massachusetts Medical Use of Marijuana Program and gained legal access to cannabis. 

All patients seeking a Massachusetts medical marijuana card are required to obtain a recommendation from a health-care provider prior to registration. The cards must be renewed annually by the patients and their designated caregivers. The renewing patients must get recertification from the original physician.

Medical marijuana patients in Mass. are not subject to the 17% state and 3% municipal tax that can be applied to recreational marijuana products.

Massachusetts Recreational overview

In November of 2016, Question 4, also known as The Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative was voter-approved. This initiative legalized the use of marijuana for any adult over the age of 21. As a result, cannabis became legal for adults 21 and older in Massachusetts on December 15, 2016. Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill into law on July 28, 2017. 

To regulate the new industry in the state, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission was created. 

On November 20, 2018, the retail sale of marijuana was officially launched with the opening of two licensed retail cannabis stores.

In October 2020, there were more than 80 licensed dispensaries across the state, logging more than $1 billion in sales, generating approximately $170 million in tax revenues.

Adult-Use Recreational Marijuana

The state of Massachusetts allows any adult 21 years of age and older to purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana or 5 grams of concentrate. The marijuana must be obtained from a licensed marijuana dispensary (or grown for personal use).

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Mass

By October 2020, there were more than 80 licensed marijuana dispensaries across Massachusetts. However, not all recreational use dispensaries offer medical marijuana.

Many dispensaries in Massachusetts offer delivery and curbside pickup services in addition to storefront sales.

Home delivery

Home delivery of both medical and recreational marijuana is available in many areas in Massachusetts. Orders are usually made online or taken over the phone. 

marijuana purchase and possession limits Medical Marijuana:

Qualifying patients registered with the Medical Use of Marijuana Program in the state of Massachusetts may purchase and possess up to a 60-day supply of medical marijuana. The supply is limited to 10 ounces for the 60 day period, however, the patient’s doctor may prescribe more if they deem it necessary.

Available Massachusetts Cannabis Business Licenses

The following types of cannabis operation licenses are available in Massachusetts:

  • Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (“MTC”)
  • Marijuana Cultivator
  • Craft Marijuana Cooperative
  • Marijuana Product Manufacturer
  • Marijuana Retailer
  • Existing Licensee Transporter
  • Third-Party Transporter
  • Microbusiness
  • Delivery-Only Licensee
  • Social Consumption Establishment
  • Delivery Endorsement

There are also several other license types including laboratory licenses and research facilities.

Learn more about Massachusetts cannabis business licenses

How to get a MA medical marijuana card

To apply for a medical marijuana card in the state of Massachusetts patients must be a Massachusetts resident, 18 years of age or older, and suffering from a “debilitating medical condition.” 

Once a medical marijuana doctor determines eligibility they will enter the patient into the state’s Medical Use of Marijuana Online system after which the state will provide patients with a PIN number to access the patient portal to complete their application.

If a patient requires a caregiver to assist in obtaining marijuana, the caregiver must also register with the state.

Mass. medical marijuana patient registration portal

Alternatively, patients can call (617) 660-5370 to request a hard copy of a registration form. 

Upon approval, patients will be provided a temporary medical marijuana card that can be printed directly from a computer. Patients will then receive an actual medical marijuana I.D. card within four weeks.

Massachusetts medical marijuana doctors

The state of Massachusetts requires that patients seeking a medical marijuana card must be approved by a licensed physician or osteopath registered by the state’s Medical Use of Marijuana Program and must have no prescribing restrictions.

Find Massachusetts medical marijuana doctors

MA Qualifying medical conditions

In order to obtain a Mass. medical marijuana card, patients must be diagnosed with one of the following qualifying medical conditions

Also, any other condition considered debilitating by the patient’s health-care provider may be a qualifying condition. 


Any registered medical marijuana patients who need assistance in obtaining or administering their medication may designate a primary caregiver. All designated careivers must register with the Medical Use of Marijuana Program and use the patient’s PIN number. 

Caregivers must be over the age of 21. Visiting nurses, personal care attendants, home health aides, and employees of nursing, hospice, or medical facilities may register as caregivers to qualifying patients and patients below the age of 18. A

Marijuana-related DUI laws in Massachusetts

Marijuana is still considered a Schedule I Controlled Substance on a federal level. Anyone caught driving a motor vehicle while under its influence will be charged with impaired driving in the state of Massachusetts. Doing so may result in the same harsh penalties applied to alcohol-related offenses. This law also applies to any individual driving under the influence of prescribed medical marijuana.

Social Equity Programs

Massachusetts has several social equity programs designed to promote equity among minorities, women, veterans, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ individuals. For example, Social Consumption Establishment licenses, as well as licenses for delivery and courier services, are only being awarded to participants in the social equity program for the first two years. 

Learn more about Massachusetts Social Equity programs

Social consumption

Social Consumption Establishments have yet to be launched in Mass.

A Social Consumption Establishment is an entity that allows customers to purchase and consume marijuana or marijuana products solely on its premises. 

The application for a Social Consumption Establishment license will be made available only after six communities have been selected to participate in the CCC’s Social Consumption Pilot Program. 

The fee for a Social Consumption Establishment license application will be $1,500, and the annual license fee will be $10,000.

Home cultivation in Massachusetts

The state of Massachusetts allows anyone over the age of 21 to grow up to six plants per individual, or 12 plants per household on one property. Homegrown cannabis is in addition to the 10 ounces of retail products that individuals are allowed to possess. 

Medical marijuana patients wishing to grow their own product may apply for a hardship registration or engage a caregiver to cultivate cannabis for them. All patients may grow a number of plants required to provide them with a 60-day supply of medical marijuana.

Learn to Weed Grow at Home

Marijuana and guns in Massachusetts

Although marijuana is legal in Mass., it is still a Schedule I controlled substance at the federal level. As a result, gun purchase or ownership is currently prohibited for anyone that consumes marijuana

Learn more about marijuana and guns

Massachusetts hemp and CBD laws

In 2016, the state of Massachusetts legalized the cultivation and possession of hemp and hemp-derived CBD products along with the legalization of recreational marijuana. This occurred two years ahead of the federal farm bill which legalized hemp and CBD at the end of 2018.

Technically, CBD-infused edibles are not legal in Mass. This is because they are forbidden by the FDA. However, CBD edibles are still sold in many shops in the state. Furthermore, it’s simple to buy CBD online including edibles. At this time there is no known case of law enforcement officials enforcing the no-edibles rule. 

Learn more about Mass. hemp and CBD laws

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