October 18, 2016 5:56 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Cannabis Legalization Comes to Massachusetts
-What does it mean for you?-

By Chris Cloud, Organic Writer for Greenleaf Magazine

Cannabis Legalization Comes to Mass in 2016

The Regulation and Taxation Marijuana Act was voted into favor on November 6th, 2016 by the populace of the State of Massachusetts via a ballot question.  The purpose of the act is to legalize recreational cannabis for adults 21 years and over and to provide regulation, taxation and licensing for said system.

But everybody already knows that.  But do you know what Mass will look like by the time 2018/2019 rolls around?

As a Massachusetts resident my entire life and a proponent of legalization for many years, the time has come to tell you the truth of what legalization means in Massachusetts now.

The Nuts and Bolts

Residents of Massachusetts will be able to grow legally in their home beginning December 16, 2016.  You can grow outdoors too—it just cannot be seen by neighbors or be near a school.  Feeling lucky?  If your neighbors see those plants out there will be a $300 civil penalty fine.  That means a very expensive parking ticket.  Being near a school carries further consequences.  Simply put, do not grow cannabis outside if you are near a school.

No changes to current DUI laws.  That means you ingest and drive, even if you are medical.

Also when driving you cannot keep a bag of cannabis in your pocket.  The open container laws are in effect now—similarly to alcohol.  Basically, keep your cannabis in the trunk.  Don’t have a trunk?  You have to put it in the flap/pocket behind the last upright seat in your vehicle or in an area otherwise not able to be reached by the driver or passenger.

You cannot sell the cannabis you grow.  But you can donate an ounce to a friend or up to 5 grams of concentrate.  One or the other.  Not both.

You can possess up to ten ounces in your home and up to 6 plants that you are growing.  You can grow up to 12 if you have a partner living in your residence.  Have too much?  Got caught?  $100 civil penalty and you have to forfeit your cannabis.

How about smoking?  Well, simply put— you can’t.  If you get caught, you get a $100 civil penalty.

Cannabis from the future stores will be expensive.  Taxes come in at 10% (3.75% excise tax & 6.25% State Tax).  Local towns and cities can impose a local 2% tax on recreational cannabis as well.  So, let’s plan for 12%.  That would make a $250 ounce (my fiscal projection once things calm down by 2019) a $280 ounce after taxes.

A Cannabis Control Commission will be created to execute licensing, regulation and administration of the new law.  Essentially, they are what the Board of Health are to restaurants—a big regulatory hurdle.  However, this commission is necessary to have a well-regulated market.

Cannabis Shops and Cafes are Coming! (But probably late 2018 and more like 2019)

Yes, the cannabis stores are coming.  Endearingly labeled “pot shops” by our unbiased media, the law follows similar practices of other states. The medical dispensaries will get first licensing acquisitions.  However, this is not a reason for concern.

Why, you ask?

Because the current medical cannabis dispensaries in Massachusetts do not provide high quality cannabis, in my opinion. They simply do not know what they are doing.  Recreational cannabis will be of similar quality for some time.

Interested in opening a retail spot?  Get your checkbook ready!

For an initial general application, $3,000

For a license for a retail marijuana store, $15,000;

For a license for a marijuana product manufacturer, $15,000;

For a license for a marijuana cultivator, $15,000;

For a license for a marijuana testing facility, $10,000.

But what does all this mean?  Well, simply put, you need financing to get into the industry.  Want to sell cannabis, produce your own product and generally keep things controlled?  That will carry a price tag of $58,000.00.  You will need all the licenses to have a tight-knit operation.  Most savvy business owners will operate under direct control and will require all the required licensing to operate as such.

Cafes are the Sweetest Thing

Ever been to a cannabis cafe?  They are awesome when done right.  Come in, look at a wide selection of beautiful cannabis, edibles, concentrates and more.  Light up with your friends in a controlled and relaxed atmosphere.  Will it be like that in Massachusetts?  Kind of.

Due to the outright smoking ban in all public and private establishments in Massachusetts, what we will see are Cafes focused on vaporizer bars and edibles.  These will not open until 2018, but I do not foresee the first cannabis cafe opening until 2019.  It will be interesting if Massachusetts Board of Health will allow the consumption of food alongside cannabis in these establishments.

The Future

Though the voters passed in favor of legalization, there will be many forces for you to contend with as this law rolls out.  Many local authorities will try to stop the legalization of cannabis in your town due to nothing but fear.  Make sure that your voice is heard if any wrongdoings are happening in your community.  Attend your local town meetings to ensure there is a voice for the cannabis community.

Christopher Keohane, aka ‘Snafu’ is our Organic Writer.  Chris owns Northshore Organics, an organic education company in Massachusetts and has been growing organic cannabis for over twenty years.  He can help you with your questions and growing issues on Instagram @Snafuorganics, on Twitter @Snafu and on

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