(Last update: December 2, 2019)
Medical Marijuana: Yes
Recreational Marijuana: Yes
In-Home Cultivation: -
One year following advent of retail sales to adults in Massachusetts, receipts approach $400 million
On November 8, 2016, Bay State voters approved Question 4, the ballot initiative that ended marijuana prohibition for adults 21 and older. As a result, cannabis became legal for adults to grow and possess in Massachusetts on December 15, 2016.
The first sales began on November 20, 2018, when two licensed retail stores began selling cannabis to adults. One year later, 33 stores are open, and the state has logged $393.7 million in sales, generating an estimated $67 million in state tax revenue and up to $11.8 million in tax revenue for municipalities.
The Cannabis Control Commission published draft regulations for home delivery and social consumption and is working to finalize those policies.
Although Question 4 won a decisive victory among voters in 2016, it soon became clear that the law would need to be defended from interference by the Massachusetts Legislature, which quickly moved to make changes to the implementation timeline and other key aspects of the law. Sparking controversy, a small group of legislators met in a special, non-transparent legislative session during the final days of 2016 to delay the opening of cannabis businesses by six months.
The legislature ultimately discarded a flawed proposal from the House and instead passed a compromise bill that largely respects the will of the voters. Gov. Charlie Baker signed it into law on July 28, 2017. MPP’s summary of the revised law is available here.
Historic victory: The 2016 Yes on 4 Campaign
Ultimately, Question 4 prevailed on November 8 with 53.6% of the vote, winning in the vast majority of cities and towns across the state.
Timeline of cannabis policy reform in Massachusetts
2008: Voters approved a ballot initiative decriminalizing possession of small amounts of cannabis.
2012: Voters approved a ballot initiative legalizing medical cannabis for patients suffering from serious health issues. For more information on the state’s medical cannabis program, click here.
2016: Voters approved a ballot initiative legalizing cannabis for adults and establishing a regulated cannabis market similar to alcohol. The initiative took effect on December 15, eliminating penalties for limited possession and cultivation for adults’ use.
2017: The legislature voted to delay implementation by six months, pushing the advent of legal retail sales forward from January 1, 2018 to July 1, 2018. Legislators then began working on changes to the initiative. The House passed a bad bill that would have made major changes to the law, but MPP and its allies fought back and persuaded the Senate to defend the will of voters. The implementation law that ultimately passed kept most of the initiative intact, and Gov. Baker signed it into law.
2018: The first two adult use retail stores opened for businesses on November 20, 2018.