So You Want to Grow Cannabis at Home in Massachusetts
Massachusetts legalized adult-use cannabis in 2016, but it took more than two years before retailers across the state could begin legal sales. Even today, fewer than a dozen adult-use shops operate in the Bay State.
But the Massachusetts cannabis law also contains a section that allows for folks to grow their own cannabis at home—and that provision kicked in immediately as the new law took effect. Whether you’re wanting to avoid long dispensary lines or are just curious about flexing your green thumb, here’s what you need to know if you want to grow cannabis at home.
No Green Thumb? No Problem
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Who Can Grow?
Are you an adult 21 and over? You can grow up to six plants in your home. Married? Living in sin? Got a couple roommates? A household that consists of more than one 21+ adult is allowed to grow up to 12 plants. But that’s it! No more, regardless of how many grad students you can stuff in an old Victorian.
Where Can You Grow?
If you own your home, you’re good. For those who rent, keep in mind that landlords can set their own policies and may legally restrict cannabis cultivation. Check your lease to see if anything is written, and if you’re unsure, ask your landlord.
Whether indoors or out, your grow space needs to be protected with a lock or some sort of security device. Also, you need to keep your plants out of sight. State law says plants may not be visible from a public place without the use of “binoculars, aircraft or other optical aids.”
At the moment, there is no legal way to purchase seeds or starters in Massachusetts.
While these restrictions may induce eyerolls, breaking the state’s home cultivation law could cost you. In addition of a fine up to $300, you could lose your plants—so keep them locked up and out of sight!
For growers just starting out, growing indoors is a popular choice. You can designate a small grow space in your home, add some locks, and ensure that nobody can see them from outside.
If you’re dedicated to growing outdoors during the warmer months, we can help with that, too. Plan to find a space that is more discreet than where you keep your prize rose bushes.
How Do I Start?
Here’s where it gets a little tricky. Sure, you can head down to your local grow store (more on that in a future article) or even online and stock up on lights, fans, and a grow tent… but what about the plants themselves?
At the moment, there is no legal way to purchase seeds or starters in Massachusetts. Neither state-licensed cannabis retailers nor anyone else can legally sell them. Under state law, however, gifting is allowed. So if you know someone who is already growing, perhaps you can persuade them to clip you off a clone.
If that doesn’t work, it doesn’t hurt to ask around. Groups of local home growers often set up trades to exchange seeds and diversify the strains they grow. Check to see if your local grow store has any information, or look on social media sites such as Facebook or Instagram for cannabis seed or plant exchanges.
There are also online outlets that advertise cannabis seeds. These businesses are generally based in other countries and operate in a gray area of the law.
What Can I Do With What I Grow?
Enjoy it! You are welcome to smoke, vape, cook, make tinctures, or do pretty much whatever you want with your harvest—with just a few exceptions.
First, extraction. The law prohibits the production of “cannabis-based extracts or concentrates at home by means of any liquid or gas, other than alcohol, that has a flashpoint below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.” This is meant to prevent home-extraction using volatile compounds such as butane, which can be incredibly dangerous if used incorrectly.
You can gift seeds and cannabis clones, too!
If you’re all about concentrates, there are plenty of other options to explore. Try making hash by hand, pressing rosin, or even whipping up a batch of bubble hash.
If you’re feeling generous, you can also gift your stash. While you can’t legally sell anything you harvest, state law says you can gift up to an ounce of cannabis flower at a time to other adults 21 and older.
And remember: You can gift seeds and cannabis clones, too. It’s a great opportunity to pay it forward as a home grower while plants are still hard to come by.
Whether you want to avoid long dispensary lines or are just curious about flexing your green thumb, here’s what you need to know to grow cannabis at home.
LEARN | LAWS & REGULATIONS
Is weed legal in Massachusetts?
Yes, both medical and recreational, i.e. adult-use, marijuana are legal in the Pilgrim State.
Possession of more than 1 ounce but not more than 2 ounces outside the home is a misdemeanor with a potential penalty of a $100 fine and forfeiture of the cannabis in excess of 1 ounce.
Voters approved the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative, or Question 3 , in November 2012. Question 3 established the Massachusetts Medical Use of Marijuana Program, initially administered by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), to regulate medical marijuana across the Commonwealth.
The Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative, or Question 4 , passed by voters in November 2016, legalized cannabis use for adults 21 and older and created the Cannabis Control Commission (the Commission) to regulate marijuana statewide. Retail sales began in November 2018.
When it was time for legislators to enact Question 4 into law, the two houses had differing approaches but a compromise bill was eventually approved. H 3818 was signed by Gov. Charlie Baker in July 2017 and became Chapter 55 of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The bill added two more members to the Commission and made the marijuana excise tax 10.75% on top of the state sales tax of 6.25% while also allowing cities to add 3%, for a total of 20% tax on adult-use marijuana. Medical cannabis remained tax-free. The bill also allowed jurisdictions that had voted against legalization to ban retail sales with a vote of the city council while jurisdictions that voted for it would need a referendum to ban sales.
Where is safe to purchase?
Registered patients can purchase a 60-day supply of medical cannabis from any state-licensed dispensary. The 60-day supply is limited to 10 ounces, though the certifying health care provider can specify more on the patient’s certificate. There are medical marijuana delivery services available, and a designated caregiver may transport medical cannabis from a licensed dispensary or grow site to a registered patient. Medical marijuana is tax-exempt in Massachusetts.
Adults age 21 and older can purchase 1 ounce of cannabis or 5 grams of concentrate from licensed marijuana retailers. Adult-use cannabis is subject to a 6.25% sales tax, a 10.75% state excise tax, and a potential municipal tax of up to 3%. As such, most adult-use consumers could encounter a total tax rate of about 20%.
Finding licensed dispensaries in Massachusetts
Registered patients can find licensed dispensaries in Massachusetts and search by cities including Boston, Worcester, and North Hampton. Many dispensaries in Massachusetts offer delivery and curbside pickup services in addition to storefront sales.
Where is it safe to consume?
Cannabis can be consumed on private property, but marijuana products cannot be smoked, eaten, or vaped in public. Furthermore, cannabis products cannot be smoked where tobacco smoking is prohibited. Adult-use consumers as well as registered patients and their caregivers can carry cannabis in their vehicles as long as it is in a sealed container in the trunk or a locked glove compartment.
Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal. Neither drivers nor passengers may consume marijuana in a vehicle. Consumption is generally banned in public but the Commission does allow local jurisdictions to set their own rules around cafes, smoke rooms, or other options for social consumption.
The Commission offers a fact sheet on adult consumption in Massachusetts .
Adults 21 and older, as well as patients and their caregivers, are allowed to possess 10 ounces (283 grams) of cannabis inside their homes, and less than 1 ounce (28 grams) in public. Adults are also allowed to grow up to six cannabis plants per person and up to 12 per household in their homes.
While medical and adult-use cannabis are now legal in Massachusetts, both patients and consumers still face penalties for violating what is allowable under state law . Specifically, public consumption of cannabis or smoking it where smoking tobacco is prohibited can result in a fine of $100, and possessing an open container of cannabis in a vehicle can result in a fine of $500.
View the marijuana laws & regulations for Massachusetts.