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Marijuana legalization and the City of Boston

Marijuana legalization and the City of Boston

Voters in Massachusetts voted in favor of Question 4 on November 8, 2016, to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for people 21 and older. The law takes effect on December 15, 2016. We have information from the state and City on what that means for you below.

We’ll keep this page updated with the latest information we have on the new marijuana law and its affect on Boston.

If you think that you have a problem with marijuana or any other substance, please call 311 for a referral to resources and support.

Still have questions? Contact:
BOS:311
311
1 City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201
United States
Mass.gov information

Most of the information on this page comes from the state treasurer’s office, so you can also check their page for updates.

Read the state FAQs

Important dates

Governor Charlie Baker signed off on a measure that delays retail sales in the state by up to six months. Massachusetts will likely not issue licenses to cultivate, manufacture, and offer retail sales for marijuana until the summer of 2018.

On December 15, 2016, some provisions of the law relating to personal use took effect for people 21 and older. You can find more information on those provisions below.

Keep in mind
  • You can carry up to 1 ounce of marijuana in public. Five grams of that may be a marijuana concentrate.
  • You can't have more than 10 ounces of marijuana in your residence.
medical marijuana

The new law will not affect medical marijuana. That’s a separate program overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Growing plants
  • Each resident in the state can grow up to six plants, but there can be no more than 12 plants in a household. You must grow your plants in your primary residence in a locked or secured location.
  • The plants can’t be visible from a public space without the use of binoculars, an aircraft, or other visual aids.
  • If you decide to grow plants, we recommend you buy and install the appropriate lighting and mechanical equipment. Never overload your electrical circuits.

Marijuana restrictions

Public Marijuana consumption

Under the state law, you can't consume marijuana of any kind in any public place. Violations can carry a civil penalty of up to $100.

 "Marijuana products" include:
  • edible products and beverages
  • topical products and ointments, and
  • oils and tinctures.
Marijuana in motor vehicles

Under the law, you can't have an open container of marijuana or marijuana products in your motor vehicle. Violations can carry a civil penalty of up to $500.

"Open container" means a package of marijuana or marijuana products with a broken seal, or with some of the contents removed. You must keep an open container in a locked glove compartment or trunk.

Driving under the influence

The new law doesn't change the existing state laws for operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana. It's still illegal, and subject to the same fines and penalties.

The state's website has more detailed information.

Marijuana info on Mass.gov

Smoking in Boston

Please remember, in Boston, you can’t smoke tobacco or marijuana in public parks or workplaces, including bars and restaurants.

What does the term “smoking” mean? You can’t inhale, exhale, burn, or carry any:

  • lighted cigar, cigarette, or pipe
  • lighted or vaporized substance in any manner or form. This includes marijuana, even if it’s used for medical reasons.

Many apartment and condominium buildings also have their own smoke-free policies. If you’re not sure if your building has a smoke-free policy, check with your landlord or condo association.

Useful links:

Marijuana and your health

The effects of marijuana use of any kind can vary from person to person, and each person may have a different tolerance level.

Marijuana and tobacco

Each method of consuming marijuana has its own health and safety risks. The link between smoking marijuana and the risk of cancer is unclear. However, smoking marijuana along with tobacco products, like blunts and blunt wraps, introduces chemicals known to cause cancer into your body.

Smoking marijuana with tobacco has also been shown to increase the risk for chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD).

Children and teens

Research suggests that frequent marijuana use among children and teens may cause long-term health impacts, including:

  • learning problems
  • memory loss, and
  • mental health issues.

Please talk to the young people in your life about the risks of underage marijuana use.

Edible marijuana products

People who eat or drink marijuana-infused food, beverages, or other edible products — also known as edibles — should know that it may take 30 minutes to two hours to feel its effects.

When consuming edible marijuana products, the effects may last longer than expected. This depends on the dose, a person's last meal, and whether medications or alcohol were used at the same time. Eating too much of a marijuana edible could result in unwanted health effects and intoxication.

Keeping your family safe

Keep all marijuana, especially foods or beverages that contain marijuana, away from children, pets, and others who may unknowingly consume them. If a child or adult unintentionally consumes edibles — or consumes more than intended — call the Regional Center for Poison Control and Prevention at 800-222-1222.

Marijuana has also been found to be harmful during pregnancy and breastfeeding. If a woman is breastfeeding, the active chemicals in marijuana can get into the breast milk and may affect the baby.

Cannabis Control Commission

The ballot question requires the state to appoint a Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission by March 1, 2017. The question also requires the state commission to put in place regulations by September 1, 2017. 

Applications to grow, manufacture, and offer retail sales for marijuana are not available at this time. The state will offer applications after it creates the Cannabis Control Commission.

For more information on what the state plans to do, please visit the mass.gov marijuana page.