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Massachusetts Cannabis Regulation Compliance Overview

Massachusetts: Adult-use cannabis since November 2018


Massachusetts Cannabis Regulatory Overview

On November 8, 2016, Massachusetts voted in favor of Question 4 to "control the production and distribution of marijuana under a system that licenses, regulates and taxes the businesses involved in a manner similar to alcohol and to make marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age or older."  Though Question 4 contemplated sales as of January 1, 2018, the Massachusetts legislature revised the law in December 2016 to push regulated cannabis sales to July 1, 2018.  The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission voted to adopt regulations for the new industry on March 6, 2018. Sales launched on November 20, 2018.

Massachusetts Cannabis License Overview

Massachusetts issues a number of different license types corresponding to different sectors of the industry.  These are (1) cultivation licenses (with sub-licenses for indoor/outdoor cultivation and cultivation size), (2) craft marijuana cooperative licenses (permitting local residents to cultivate, manufacture, and brand cannabis and cannabis products), (3) microbusiness licenses (permitting the licensee to conduct small-scale cultivation and/or manufacturing), (4) manufacturing licenses, (5) retail licenses, (6) third-party transporter licenses, (7) existing licensee transporter licenses, and (8) research laboratory licenses.

Massachusetts Cannabis Key Regulators

Massachusetts five-member Cannabis Control Commission is tasked with developing the regulations to govern the forthcoming Massachusetts adult-use cannabis marketplace.  Along with its staff, it serves as the primary regulator of the industry.  In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources plays an oversight role with respect to cultivation methods and the Commission has incorporated certain guidance promulgated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for medical marijuana.

Massachusetts Cannabis Locality Options

Local communities have the ability under Massachusetts's cannabis laws to opt-out of permitting legal commercial activity and to conduct their own regulation.