Medical Marijuana vs Adult Use Marijuana Rules

A medical marijuana plant before harvest

Massachusetts and marijuana have a long history together. In 1911, the state became the first to prohibit cannabis without a prescription. Fast forward almost a century to 2008 when Massachusetts became one of the first states on the East Coast to decriminalize marijuana in small amounts.

In 2012, Massachuesetts voted in favor of Question 3 on the ballot and approved medical marijuana for patients who suffered from serious health conditions. Four years later, voters in a major legislative coup approved Question 4. Question 4 legalized recreational - also called adult-use - cannabis for adults. This created a regulated marijuana market similar to alcohol. The initiative eliminated penalties for limited possession and cultivation making recreational marijuana legal.

As you might imagine, the two Massachusetts programs - medical marijuana and recreational cannabis - are quite different from one another.

Medical Marijuana Laws In Massachusetts

One of the biggest differences between medical and recreational marijuana in Massachusetts is that medical marijuana patients must be diagnosed with one of the state’s many qualifying medical conditions before they can purchase cannabis. They also have to register and apply for a state issued medical marijuana card.

Patients must be at least 18 years of age. Minors under 18 need to be diagnosed with at least two of the state’s qualifying medical conditions. They are required to show that other medicines did not sufficiently help in their treatment, and that they are expected to die within two years.

There are exceptions when it comes to minors. If their legal guardian gives consent, and if a physician can establish that the use of medical marijuana outweighs the risks of using it, exemptions for minors may be made.

As a medical marijuana patient in Massachusetts, it’s important to note that not all of the state’s dispensaries cater to medical marijuana patients. Some only serve the medical community, some sell only to recreational consumers, and others are “hybrids” serving both.

Medical marijuana patients are prescribed a 60-day supply, up to 10 ounces, by their certified doctor. This supply can be bought at one or more dispensaries.

Medical marijuana patients in Massachusetts are also allowed to grow their own cannabis plants. They are permitted to have six plants in flower, and 12 total at any one time.

Another benefit of being a medical marijuana patient in Massachusetts is that home delivery from your favorite dispensaries, like Nature’s Medicines, is available. Delivery isn’t legal yet for recreational consumers.

Recreational Marijuana Laws In Massachusetts

As an adult-use marijuana consumer in Massachusetts, you don’t need to meet any health qualifications or register as a medical marijuana patient. Cannabis consumers in Massachusetts may legally purchase marijuana as long as they’re over the age of 21.

Before heading to the nearest dispensary, you’ll want to be sure it serves recreational customers. Some dispensaries are designated for medical marijuana patients only, so it’s wise to call ahead to be certain.

Once you choose a recreational marijuana dispensary, you’ll be able to buy up to an ounce of flower and up to five grams of concentrates per visit.

The possession and grow limits in Massachusetts are the same for both recreational consumers and medical marijuana patients -- up to six flowering plants, with 12 total allowed. Possession of up to 10 ounces is also permitted under the Massachusetts recreational marijuana law.

As of late 2019, home delivery to recreational marijuana customers is illegal but is likely to change within the next year.

Medical Marijuana And Recreational Cannabis Laws

As you can see there are many differences between the medical marijuana and adult-use of cannabis programs in Massachusetts. But there are some very important laws that apply to both:

  • It’s illegal to consume cannabis while driving
  • It’s illegal to consumer cannabis on public property
  • It’s acceptable to give away marijuana, but there can’t be an exchange of money

If you have any questions regarding the different regulations pertaining to medical marijuana patients and recreational consumers in Massachusetts, don’t hesitate to ask the knowledgeable and caring team at any Nature’s Medicines dispensary. We have a medical marijuana dispensary in Fall River.