Region: Eastern Cannabis Business Conference
The State of Massachusetts Cannabis Regulations
By Kaisha-Dyan McMillan
November 13, 2019

The State of Massachusetts Cannabis Regulations

Massachusetts voters legalized cannabis for all adults in 2016. While it took two years for adult-use sales to launch, largely due to delays stemming from legislative changes, in November 2018 Massachusetts became the first state on the East Coast to open a legal cannabis dispensary. Now, all eyes are on the Bay State as it forecasts to generate $1.1 billion in sales by 2022, setting the stage for a robust legal industry in the Northeast. In this blog post, we explore how cannabis regulations are shaping up in the state of Massachusetts.


It’s legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis on their person, and up to 10 ounces in their home. An adult is allowed to grow up to 6 plants, and homes with 2 or more adults can grow a maximum of 12 plants. Public cannabis use in any form is prohibited, and since cannabis is federally illegal, it is also not to be used on federal land.

Massachusetts law allows for at least four types of cannabis licensing: retail, cultivation, product manufacturing, and independent lab testing. The Commonwealth’s Cannabis Control Commission is the governing body overseeing regulations and consists of five appointed commissioners charged with ensuring the state’s medical and adult-use laws reflect the will of the voters. The state’s 25-member Cannabis Advisory Board is tasked with researching the areas of public health, market participation, public safety and community mitigation, and the cannabis industry as a whole in order to provide the Commission with recommendations on regulation and taxation. 


In June 2018 Massachusetts became the first jurisdiction to launch a statewide social equity program, establishing pathways for entry into the legal industry for communities most impacted by the enforcement of prohibition. As of April 2018, Massachusetts law also allows for court-ordered record expungement for those convicted of certain prior cannabis offenses.

To date, Massachusetts has approved a total of 204 licenses across the state, and cannabis delivery has also been approved as of September 2019. Local officials are allowed to unilaterally prohibit cannabis businesses in their municipalities for one more year without polling residents.

In response to over 200 cases and 3 confirmed deaths attributed to vaping, Massachusetts became the first state to activate a ban on all vaping products. Originally slated to last four months, the ban has since been lifted for medical marijuana patients.


Hear from industry experts on the progress of legalization in the Bay State during the educational session, “The State of Massachusetts Cannabis Regulations”, at the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Northeast Cannabis Business Conference. Formerly Seed to Sale Show, #NECannaBizCon allows you to explore emerging business opportunities, expand your East Coast network and engage with the latest regional insights... Meet with NCIA members, entrepreneurs, policymakers, industry leaders, and services providers on 40,000 square feet of expo floor. It’s all happening February 19-20, 2020 at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center – Registration is now open

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