An overview of the medical and recreational marijuana laws in Massachusetts.
There are 417 marijuana retailer licenses currently approved by Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission, and applications are being accepted on a rolling basis. The state is accepted to approve another 200 retailer licenses in the upcoming year. Massachusetts state law requires priority licensing review of Registered Marijuana Dispensaries who serve patients for medical use and defined Economic Empowerment Applicants who qualify for its social equity programs.
This page is informational only and should not be considered legal advice.
An overview of the medical and recreational marijuana laws in Massachusetts.
Conditions approved for medical marijuana in Massachusetts include:
Yes, recreational marijuana can be grown by adults aged 21 or older. Massachusetts law allows you to grow up to six cannabis plants in your home for personal use, or up to 12 plants for two or more adults. Home Cultivation must only take place in an enclosed area where the marijuana plants are not visible to the public.
Cannabis consumption is limited to private property out of public view. It’s illegal to consume marijuana in public. You cannot use cannabis in any form—including smoking, vaping, or eating—in public places or on federal land. If you have more than one ounce of cannabis in your home, it must be locked in a secure place.
It’s illegal to drive while under the influence of cannabis. Take public transportation, contact a ride-share, or catch a lift with a sober friend. It’s also illegal to drive across state lines with cannabis. It’s against the law to transport it on a plane, train, boat, or another mode of transportation outside of Massachusetts, or even send it by mail to anyone.
Everything you need to know about opening a marijuana retail establishment in Massachusetts.
The Cannabis Control Commission regulates licensees that operate in the legal adult-use and medical-use marijuana markets in Massachusetts. This includes reviewing applications and issuing licenses for adult-use Marijuana Establishments (MEs) and Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MTCs), formerly known as Registered Marijuana Dispensaries (RMDs). The Commission’s goal is to assist applicants and licensees with navigating the application and licensing processes and remaining compliant with applicable laws, regulations, and policies.
Any qualified applicant can apply for a cannabis dispensary license in Massachusetts. Research the laws and regulations governing adult-use or medical-use marijuana for more information about the regulatory requirements for licensure in the city or town you wish to operate.
Applicants can determine the type of license they want to obtain depending on whether they want to operate in the adult- or medical-use market and how they want to operate their business.
Research the laws and regulations governing adult-use or medical-use marijuana for more information about the regulatory requirements for licensure in the city or town you wish to operate.
Begin researching and writing the operational plans for your business—all plans must be compliant with adult-use or medical-use regulations. Some plans include but are not limited to: a business plan, a diversity plan, a security plan, a plan for positive impact, and a plan to remain compliant with local codes and ordinances.
Gather information related to the persons and entities who will be listed on the license and who will have control over the business. When you are ready to submit your application, you must include identifying information about each person and entity to be listed.
As part of the application process, you must submit evidence that a Community Outreach Meeting occurred and that a Host Community Agreement has been signed with the municipality.
Submit your license application online along with applicable license and background check fees. Visit the Massachusetts Cannabis Industry Portal (MassCIP) to begin the process for an adult-use license application or an MTC license application.
The Commission will review the application based on its priority status and when it was submitted. Within 90 days of your license application, the Commission will issue either a provisional license or a rejection. The Commission will perform inspections and request that background checks and fingerprinting be performed by all individuals listed on the license.
A certification form will be sent to the host municipality to confirm your establishment is in compliance with local codes and ordinances. Once these steps have been completed, the Commission may consider your application for a final license.
Prior to opening, an additional inspection will then be conducted. Upon review of the inspection report, your establishment will receive a notification that it is allowed to commence operations and start operating as a legal marijuana business.
Some things to be conscious of when applying to become a licensee:
Massachusetts’ Social Equity Program is a free, statewide technical assistance and training program that provides participants with education, skill-based training, and tools for success in the cannabis industry. Upon completion of this program, participants will have acquired tools and training to apply for and obtain a license through the Cannabis Control Commission. However, completion of the program does not guarantee licensure.
SEP benefits include free technical assistance and training through vendors certified by the Commission and expedited license application reviews for individuals who maintain 10% ownership in the business.
For those who maintain majority ownership in the business, the following fee waivers and exclusive license types are also available:
The Commission first launched the Social Equity Program in 2018 in accordance with a state mandate that requires full participation in the regulated cannabis marketplace by communities that have been disproportionately harmed by prohibition. Participants who are approved after meeting one or more program criteria have the option of completing ongoing training along with four, self-selected tracks:
Yes, but all licenses may not be awarded.
Applicants who want to grow and cultivate adult-use marijuana may apply for one of three ME (marijuana establishment) licenses: Marijuana Cultivation license, Craft Marijuana Cooperative license, or Microbusiness license.
Applicants who want to assist registered patients with medical marijuana can obtain an MTC (marijuana treatment center) license, which will allow them to cultivate, produce, dispense, and deliver marijuana to registered patients and their caregivers.
Learn how to remain compliant with Massachusetts’s cannabis retail laws.
Each applicant must disclose the location of their proposed ME or MTC. A licensee is limited to performing operations at a single location with the exception of Craft Marijuana Cooperatives and MTC licensees. When selecting a location, the local and municipality guidelines in which the establishment intends to operate must be adhered to.
After identifying the proposed location where operations will be licensed, the applicant is required to submit property interest documentation, which may be demonstrated by one of the following:
Licensed marijuana retail establishments may sell cannabis to adults aged 21 and older, with a valid government-issued identification card, and employees are required to check purchasers’ IDs before making the sale.
Marijuana stores may sell cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabis products, cannabis edibles, cannabis extracts, seedlings, infused tinctures and topicals, and marijuana paraphernalia.
Yes, Medical marijuana dispensaries that obtain a recreational marijuana dispensary license could operate both entities in the same/shared location.
There is no set limit on the number of business licensees that could be granted under the program, but a licensee can not operate at more than one location, except marijuana cooperatives. Regulators could stop issuing new licenses if an advisory committee determines that “market equilibrium is deficient.”
Prior to Marijuana being sold or transferred, a Marijuana Establishment shall ensure the placement of a legible, firmly affixed label on which the wording is no less than 1/16 inch in size on each package of Marijuana that it makes available for retail sale containing at a minimum the following information:
Packaging cannot be designed to appeal to minors and must be child-resistant. Warnings must be included on possible adverse events, along with the number for Massachusetts’s poison control.
The following Advertising activities are permitted:
"This product has not been analyzed or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There is limited information on the side effects of using this product, and there may be associated health risks. Marijuana use during pregnancy and breastfeeding may pose potential harm. It is against the law to drive or operate machinery when under the influence of this product. KEEP THIS PRODUCT AWAY FROM CHILDREN. There may be health risks associated with the consumption of this product. Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. The impairment effects of Edibles may be delayed by two hours or more. In case of accidental ingestion, contact the poison control hotline at 1-800-222-1222 or 9-1-1. This product may be illegal outside of MA."
Every regulated cannabis market has its own tracking and reporting requirements. Find here how Massachusetts monitors commercial cannabis activity.
Most states require dispensaries and cannabis stores to track and trace all of their cannabis products for regulatory and compliance reporting requirements. Records identifying the source of each ingredient must include the date of receipt of the ingredient, vendor’s name and address, name of the ingredient, etc. A compliant POS software system helps you do all of that without any worries or violations.
A Marijuana Establishment shall:
Massachusetts’ licensees must utilize METRC seed-to-sale system to track all marijuana products being cultivated, manufactured, transported, tested, and sold in the state.
Cova is built specifically for the marijuana retail industry. With lightning-fast transactions, 100% uptime, and a reliable offline mode, Cova is the best-reviewed and most recommended dispensary management software system.
Yes. Cova's Cannabis Dispensary POS Software and inventory management system adheres to all reporting requirements, has 2-way integration with Metrc, and includes all the features needed to keep cannabis retailers compliant, including: