The seeds of Massachusetts cannabis legalization were first sown back in 2008, when decriminalization measures passed by voters saw most cases of cannabis possession go from a criminal charge to a civil infraction. The legal cannabis cause was forwarded substantially during the 2012 election, in which we saw the approval of the Massachusetts Medical Use of Marijuana (MMJ) Program. In fall 2016 voters across Massachusetts said yes to Question 4, to fully legalize and regulate cannabis.
But wait a minute, you say - what does it all mean? Unfortunately, there seems to be more questions than answers out there, and even the good information can be confusing. So what’s the deal? We thought we would break it all down and get straight to the facts.
“So July 1st is definitely the day that recreational cannabis goes on sale in Massachusetts?”
Yes! Well, that was the plan at least. In the law that made adult-use, or recreational marijuana use legal, guidance and a budget was formed to create the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC). The mission of the CCC is to honor the will of the voters of Massachusetts by safely, equitably and effectively implementing and administering the laws enabling access to medical and adult use marijuana in the Commonwealth.
The CCC rolled out a time table to license dispensaries to start selling recreational cannabis products starting on July 1, 2018.
However, the July 1 start date is looking very unlikely, as of today. With so much left to do, there is definitely a chance that the CCC won’t meet the July 1 goal. There are still many unanswered questions as of the posting of this blog, just a few days away from July 1.
Check back often as we will continue to update this blog as we are made aware of any changes.
“Will I need a special card to buy recreational cannabis in Massachusetts?
No! Since it is not a part of the Massachusetts Medical Use of Marijuana Program (MMJ), the only credential necessary to purchase from a recreational cannabis dispensary is a government – issued photo ID that matches the purchaser.
This can include:
“How much is recreational cannabis going to cost? I heard it was going to be a lot more than medical cannabis.”
It is true that recreational cannabis in Massachusetts will be subject to taxes that MMJ Program patients are exempt from. This rate will include the state’s excise tax, 10.75%, and sales tax, 6.25%, for a total state tax rate of 17%. Of course, this may be compounded with municipal or local taxes, up to an additional 3%. For many patients, it just makes good financial sense to keep your patient status active. For more information on maintaining your Massachusetts MMJ Patient status, check out our guide here.
“How much cannabis can I possess as a recreational consumer, and am I able to transport it?
As the law is written, adults in Massachusetts are allowed to possess up to one ounce of cannabis outside of their residence. Inside their residences, they are allowed up to ten ounces.
If you’re going to be driving with cannabis in the car, you may not have an open container in the passenger compartment of the car. An open container is considered any package with a broken seal or with the contents partially removed.
Speaking of driving – we really hope it goes without saying, but if you’re going to be driving with cannabis in the car – DON’T USE IT WHILE YOU’RE DRIVING! Everyone knows somebody whose life was turned upside down by a drunk driving accident or conviction. Operating a vehicle under the influence of a controlled substance can ruin your life and the lives of others around you.
“Am I able to grow my own cannabis?”
Absolutely. All adult – use cannabis consumers are allowed to grow up to six cannabis plants per person, and up to twelve total plants per household. Of course, landlords have the right to disallow cannabis cultivation on their property, so it’s important to get the ‘all clear’ from them first!
“Will I have to give up my FID card if I purchase recreational cannabis from a Massachusetts dispensary?”
We’ve heard this one many times, and the official line is this – the federal government’s Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms has said, “Any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.” This is nothing more than a recent reiteration of the Gun Control Act of 1968 which prevents anyone who “uses or is addicted to a controlled substance” from owning or using a gun. To get a sense for where they stand now, recent appellate rulings have said that barring medical patients from owning a firearm does not violate their second amendment rights.
“How old do I have to be to purchase recreational cannabis in Massachusetts?”
To purchase recreational, adult – use cannabis in Massachusetts, the purchaser must be at least 21 years old. Once shops open for recreational sales, a valid government – issued photo ID is required upon entry into the dispensary.
“Now that recreational cannabis is legal in Massachusetts I can consume it wherever I want, right?”
Well… not quite! While you now have the ability to legally carry cannabis in public, it is still a civil infraction to consume it in public spaces. The law sees public cannabis consumption in a way similar to an open container of alcohol. The penalty in Massachusetts is $100 per occurrence – the same as it’s been since decriminalization in 2008. Of course, it is still illegal to bring your cannabis over state lines, into federal buildings or onto federal property.
The CCC will be revaluating and potentially rewriting regulations pertaining to “on-site consumption” in February of 2019.
“Can I share the recreational cannabis I buy from a dispensary with a friend? Can I purchase for them?”
So recreational cannabis isn’t even on sale yet and you’re already asking how you can share yours with your buddies? Where can I find some friends like you? Anyways, as long as your friends are over 21 years old, feel free to share! As for buying cannabis for them – as long as they’re over the age of 21, you are perfectly in your right to do so.
Check back often as we will continue to update this blog as we are made aware of any changes or updates on when the state will be licensing recreational dispensaries.