Massachusetts Cannabis Regulations, Rules, Laws & Licensing Guide

Massachusetts Rules and RegulationsMassachusetts Rules and Regulations

Massachusetts has approved the legalization of marijuana, allowing a chance for businesses to thrive in the cannabis industry. Now, there is a growing push to advance the cannabis industry and cater to the local population in the years ahead. This guide provides forms and useful information to understand the ins and outs of cannabis business licensing from Boston to Worcester and everywhere in between.

Massachusetts Marijuana Businesses

As of 2016, Massachusetts residents have joined the cannabis industry in a big way. Residents voted to legalize the use of this particular substance for adults in the area. While it did take a while for the state to sort out its regulatory and retail processes, within two years, significant advancements were made.

In November of 2018, recreational dispensaries were given the go-ahead to open their doors for adults of age 21 or older, ultimately making history.

Massachusetts has a thriving cannabis market that is largely being led by its local consumers. Within the last 10 years, there has been a spike in cannabis consumption in the area, and experts believe that this will continue to be the case for some time. Following a brief decrease in sales, this is great news. As the Bay State opens up once again, marijuana product sales are increasing.

To better support cannabis sales, some groups qualify to waive the community impact fee of 3% on gross sales. This presents a unique opportunity for cannabis businesses and paves the way for more accommodation in the industry.

As cannabis use throughout MA continues to increase, more licenses are expected to be approved. Already, in a shocking change, the industry has increased its staff by over 70%, and it is expected to continue to grow.

Though cannabis is thriving in most areas of the state, there are still existing problem areas that limit the market. At this time, certain communities are still prohibiting the sale of marijuana, placing an overall limitation on how the market will grow. Still, this billion-dollar industry won’t be slowing down any time soon.

Currently, the process to obtain a state-approved business license in this field is being simplified. With helpful resources, easily accessible information, and regulations that encourage growth, this industry is set to succeed in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Cannabis Laws, Rules, and Regulations

In the state of Massachusetts, it is legal to purchase, own, and use marijuana. The laws in place offer support for both medical and recreational use, though this does not mean that it is legal to use cannabis in every situation.

Currently, Massachusetts prohibits the possession of more than one ounce of cannabis at a time. If a person has between 1 and 2 ounces on their person, it is a misdemeanor. This will often result in the confiscation of the cannabis, as well as a $100 fine. For those carrying more than 2 ounces, other more severe charges can be applied.

In order to use or purchase marijuana in this state, you must be 21 or older. The recreational legal limit for purchase is up to 1 ounce of cannabis or 5 grams of concentrate. Medical marijuana can be purchased as a 60-day supply from a state-licensed dispensary. To further support medical needs, Massachusetts permits medical marijuana delivery, and also offers additional support by allowing the transportation of medical marijuana by a designated caregiver that cares for a patient who has been registered to use it.

Massachusetts laws

  • MGL c.94G. The primary marijuana possession law.
  • Includes who may possess marijuana, and how much.
  • MGL c.94C § 32L Possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana
  • MGL c.94C § 32M Possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana; drug awareness program for those under 18

Other related laws

  • MGL c.10, § 76 and § 77 Cannabis Control Board and Advisory Board
  • MGL c.64N Marijuana tax
  • MGL c.94C § 32L Possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana
  • MGL c.94C Controlled substances act. Includes penalties for other drugs, trafficking or possession of larger quantities of marijuana.

Massachusetts regulations

  • 830 CMR 64N Marijuana retail taxes
  • 935 CMR Medical and recreational marijuana regulations

Federal laws

  • 21 USC §§ 801-971 Drug abuse prevention and control
  • 21 USC § 844 Penalties for simple possession
  • 18 USC § 922(g)(3) prohibits any person who uses marijuana from shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing firearms or ammunition.

Selected case law

  • Comm. v. Cruz, 459 Mass. 459 (2011).
  • Police can't order a person out of a car just because they smell burned marijuana.
  • Commonwealth v. Gerhardt, 477 Mass. 775 (2017)

Talks about the use of field sobriety tests, and includes new Model Jury Instruction Regarding Roadside Assessments for Use in Prosecutions for Operating Under the Influence of Marijuana.

Comm. v. Keefner, 461 Mass. 507 (2012). The law which "decriminalized possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, did not repeal the offense of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, ... where the amount of marijuana possessed is one ounce or less."

Comm. v. Long, 482 Mass. 804 (2019)

"The overwhelming odor of unburnt marijuana wafting from a large, windowless, cinder-block warehouse, ... in a place where marijuana cultivation was not allowed under State law; evidence of an apparent break-in; and two isolated vehicles parked in what police officers viewed as a suspicious manner after ordinary business hours ... was sufficient to support a finding of probable cause to search a warehouse for evidence of illegal marijuana cultivation."

Comm. v. Richardson, 479 Mass. 344 (2018)

Addresses the prosecution of a person for trafficking in marijuana where that person was legally permitted to grow marijuana for medical purposes. Includes new model jury instructions.

Comm. v. Rodriguez, 472 Mass. 767 (2015). The smell of burned marijuana isn't enough for police to stop a vehicle.


  • A running list of recreational marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts - and those soon to open,
  • Provides information on dispensaries, including locations, hours, parking, and payment options.
  • Map view of open dispensaries

Web sources

Can my financial aid be affected by marijuana use? and other marijuana-related concerns for college students, MassLive, April 2019.

Even though recreational use is legal in Massachusetts, use by college students can cause "a major legal headache and the potential loss of financial aid if a student does not follow the law."

Cannabis and the workplace: an overview of employees rights, Boston Lawyer Blog, Zalkind, Duncan & Bernstein. A thorough discussion of employees rights in regard to drug testing and recreational and medical marijuana.

Cannabis Control Commission guidance documents. Includes:

  • Guidance on background authorization forms
  • Guidance on distribution
  • Guidance on home cultivation. To grow marijuana in your home:
    • You must be at least 21 years old
    • You can only grow up to 6 plants in your home
    • If there's more than one person over 21 living in the home who wants to grow at home, the maximum number of plants that may be grown in a home is 12 plants
    • The plants must be grown in an area that has a lock or security device
    • The plants can't be visible from a public place without the use of binoculars, aircraft or other optical aids
    • You can't manufacture at home marijuana or hemp by means of any liquid or gas, other than alcohol, that has a flashpoint below 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Guidance for identifying areas of disproportionate impact
  • Guidance for marijuana establishment licensure applicants
  • Guidance on marijuana establishment license types
  • Guidance for municipalities
  • Guidance for consumption of marijuana for adult use
    • "Like alcohol, you cannot have an open container of adult-use marijuana or marijuana products in the passenger area of your car while on the road or at a place where the public has access. An “open container” includes a package with its seal broken or a package from which the contents have been partially removed. The “passenger area” does not include a trunk or a locked glove compartment."

Know the laws, Cannabis Control Commission.

  • Provides plain language basics about what is legal (and what is not).
  • A look back at four years of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts,
  • A comprehensive timeline of the development of the marijuana industry in Massachusetts, including statistics on the impact on the economy.
  • Recreational marijuana law: best practices for landlords, Law Office of Renee Lazar. Provides guidance on smoking and cultivating in residential tenancies.


Massachusetts Rules on Purchasing:

  • You must be 21 or older to buy and use marijuana. (There are some medical exceptions.)
  • You don't have to be a Massachusetts resident. You must have a government ID.
  • Sales are cash only.

Massachusetts Rules on Possession:

  • You may possess up to 1 ounce of weed and up to 5 grams of marijuana concentrate outside of your home.
  • Using marijuana in public is prohibited. If an area bans tobacco smoking, that means it also bans smoking marijuana.
  • You may use marijuana only in your home. There may be limits if you're a renter.
  • A landlord may prohibit or regulate marijuana smoking in the lease agreement. But a lease agreement cannot ban a tenant from consuming marijuana in ways other than smoking.
  • State law allows you to give up to one ounce to another person.

Massachusetts Rules on Possession:

  • You may possess up to 1 ounce of weed and up to 5 grams of marijuana concentrate outside of your home.
  • Using marijuana in public is prohibited. If an area bans tobacco smoking, that means it also bans smoking marijuana.
  • You may use marijuana only in your home. There may be limits if you're a renter.
  • A landlord may prohibit or regulate marijuana smoking in the lease agreement. But a lease agreement cannot ban a tenant from consuming marijuana in ways other than smoking.
  • State law allows you to give up to one ounce to another person.

Massachusetts Rules on Transporting:

  • Again, you can possess up to 1 ounce outside of your home. That includes a motor vehicle, but the marijuana or marijuana product must be in a sealed container or secured in the trunk or locked glove compartment.
  • Driving while stoned is illegal

Hash & Concentrates:

  • An adult may possess up to five grams of marijuana concentrate.


  • An adult may buy and use marijuana paraphernalia.
  • Selling marijuana paraphernalia to someone under 18 years of age is a felony

Medical Marijuana:

  • The new law does not change your status as a patient using medical marijuana.


Massachusetts Cannabis License Applications

The Cannabis Control Commission (Commission) regulates licensees that operate in the legal adult- 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 for this guidance to assist applicants and licensees with navigating the application and licensing processes, and remaining compliant with applicable laws, regulations, and policies, which include the following:

  • St. 2017, c. 55, An Act to Ensure Safe Access to Marijuana
  • G.L. c. 94G, Regulation of the Use and Distribution of Marijuana Not Medically Prescribed
  • G.L. c. 94I, Medical Use of Marijuana
  • Regulations
    • 935 CMR 500.000: Adult Use of Marijuana
    • 935 CMR 501.000: Medical Use of Marijuana
    • 935 CMR 502.000: Colocated Adult-Use and Medical-Use Marijuana Operations
  • Guidance Documents

Please note that applicants and licensees are required to remain current with the laws, regulations, and policies governing licensure. Applicants and licensees are responsible for reviewing revisions to this document as changes to laws, regulations, and policies may occur.

The Mass. CCC operates the Cannabis Industry Portal (MassCIP). All license applicants must create an account on the portal.

Massachusetts Cannabis Business Licensing Requirements

Below are some of the overarching requirements for being awarded a license to operate a cannabis business in the state of Massachusetts.

  • Massachusetts cities and towns may require permits, set zoning regulations, and even ban cannabis sales altogether. (However, if the majority of voters in the municipality were in favor of the statewide Question 4, a ban must be approved by a local referendum.)
  • Retail applicants are required to hold a community meeting and negotiate an agreement with the host municipality in order to be awarded a license by the state. As of March 2018, 59 municipalities had enacted a permanent ban.
  • Both medical and recreational marijuana businesses must also negotiate a Community Host Agreement with the city or town in which it is located. Cities and towns are permitted to assess a community impact fee of up to 3% of the business's annual revenue. The agreement may be in place for no more than 5 years. However, towns and cities throughout Massachusetts have not followed these requirements.


Massachusetts Cannabis Business License Applications

In Massachusetts, there are a variety of forms and applications which cannabis businesses are required to complete. Please see below for more guidance.

Forms & Templates, Medical Use of Marijuana Program

5/18/2021 3:45 pmForms & Templates

12/24/2020 10:00 amForms & Templates

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6/6/2019 4:22 pmForms & Templates

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1/10/2019 6:30 pmForms & Templates

8/14/2018 2:51 pmForms & Templates

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8/1/2018 10:10 amForms & Templates

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5/10/2018 5:23 pmForms & Templates

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5/10/2018 5:06 pmForms & Templates

4/10/2018 12:29 pmForms & Templates

4/1/2018 9:40 pmForms & Templates

4/1/2018 9:38 pmForms & Templates


License Renewal Applications

License Modifications Forms

Application: Change of Ownership and Control

Application: Change of Location Request

Massachusetts Cannabis Business Forms:

Additional Information:

Massachusetts Marijuana Business License Fees schedule

All of the most current fee information below was provided in this document:

License Types
Application Fees
Annual License Fee
Marijuana Cultivator
(Indoor or Outdoor)
Tier 1: up to 5,000 square feet $200 (I)/$100 (O) $1,250 (I)/$625 (O)
Tier 2: 5,001 to 10,000 sq. ft. $400 (I)/$200 (O) $2,500 (I)/$1,250 (O)
Tier 3: 10,001 to 20,000 sq. ft. $600 (I)/$300 (O) $5,000 (I)/$2,500 (O)
Tier 4: 20,001 to 30,000 sq. ft. $2,000 (I)/$1,500 (O) $20,000 (I)/$10,000 (O)
Tier 5: 30,001 to 40,000 sq. ft. $2,000 (I)/$1,500 (O) $22,500 (I)/$11,250 (O)
Tier 6: 40,001 to 50,000 sq. ft. $2,000 (I)/$1,500 (O) $25,000 (I)/$12,500 (O)
Tier 7: 50,001 to 60,000 sq. ft. $2,000 (I)/$1,500 (O) $30,000 (I)/$15,000 (O)
Tier 8: 60,001 to 70,000 sq. ft. $2,000 (I)/$1,500 (O) $35,000 (I)/$17,500 (O)
Tier 9: 70,001 to 80,000 sq. ft. $2,000 (I)/$1,500 (O) $40,000 (I)/$20,000 (O)
Tier 10: 80,001 to 90,000 sq. ft. $2,000 (I)/$1,500 (O) $45,000 (I)/$22,500 (O)
Tier 11: 90,0001 to 100,000 sq. ft. $2,000 (I)/$1,500 (O) $50,000 (I)/$25,000 (O)
Craft Marijuana Cooperative Total fees for its Canopy
If more than six locations, add $200 (I)/$100(O) per additional location.
Total fees for its Canopy
If more than six locations, add $1,250(I)/$625(O) per additional location.
Marijuana Product Manufacturing $1,500 $10,000
Marijuana Microbusiness $1,000 50% of all applicable license fees
Independent Testing Laboratory $1,500 $10,000
Marijuana Retailer
$1,500 $10,000
Social Consumption Establishment $1,500 $10,000
Marijuana Transporter: - -
Third-party Transporter $1,500 $5,000
Marijuana Transporter: Existing $1,000 $5,000
Licensee Transporter - -
Marijuana Courier $1,500 $5,000
Marijuana Delivery Operator $1,500 $10,000
Marijuana Establishment
with a Delivery Endorsement
$500 $5,000
Marijuana Research Facility $300 $5,000
Marijuana Research Permit $1,000 $1,000
Other Fees
(cost per License)
Change in Name Fee $1,000
Change in Location Fee 50% of applicable License Fee
Change in Building Structure Fee $1,000
Change in Ownership or Control Fee
(involving at least one entity gaining ownership/control)
per entity, per License
Change in Ownership or Control Fee
(involving individuals, e.g., change of Board Member)
per person
Architectural Review Request Fee $1,500
Packaging and Labeling Preapproval Application Fee $50
per product

(2)Registration Card Holder Fees

(a)An applicant for a Registration Card as a Marijuana Establishment Agent, a Laboratory Agent, or any other position designated as an agent by the Commission shall pay a nonrefundable application fee of $115 with any such application.

(b)An applicant for a renewal of a Registration Card as a Marijuana Establishment Agent, a Laboratory Agent, or any other position designated as an agent by the Commission shall pay a fee of $115.

(3)Fingerprint-based Criminal Background Checks Fees

(a) All persons required to submit fingerprints shall pay a fee to be established by the Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance, in consultation with Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety and Security and the Commission, to offset the costs of operating and administering a Fingerprint-based criminal background-check system.

(b)The Commission may pay the fee on behalf of applicants or reimburse applicants for all or part of the fee on the grounds of financial hardship.

(c)Any fees collected from fingerprinting activity under 935 CMR 500.000 shall be deposited into the Fingerprint-based Background Check Trust Fund, established in M.G.L. c. 29, § 2HHHH.

(5)Preapproved Court Appointees

(a)Each applicant seeking to be Preapproved Court Appointee shall pay a nonrefundable application fee of $500 for any such application.

(b)A Preapproved Court Appointee seeking to renew its designation shall pay a renewal fee of at least $400.

935 CMR 500.005

Adopted by Mass Register Issue 1361, eff. 3/23/2018.Amended by Mass Register Issue 1403, eff. 11/1/2019.Amended by Mass Register Issue 1406, eff. 11/1/2019.Amended by Mass Register Issue 1434, eff. 1/8/2021.Amended by Mass Register Issue 1436, eff. 1/8/2021.Amended by Mass Register Issue 1441, eff. 1/8/2021.

Additional Information and Resources

Medical and Retail Marijuana Universal Symbol Examples:

Federal Regulations referenced in Rules M 103 and R 103:

Massachusetts MED Cannabis Industry Compliance Tools

Contact Information

MED Resources and Statistics

MED Leadership Team


Steven J. Hoffman


Shawn Collins

Executive Director

Christine Baily

General Counsel

Adriana Leon

Chief Financial and Accounting Officer

Deputy Directors

Julie K. Johnson

Director of Research

Deputy Chiefs of Investigations

Yaw Gyebi, Jr.

Chief of Investigations and Enforcement

Agents in Charge

Chief Communications Officer

Cedric Sinclair

Chief Operating Officer

Alisa Stack

Chief People Officer

Erika White

Most Recent MED Notices

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