Cannabis is becoming decriminalized all across the country. In fact, as of 2023, 37 states, along with Washington D.C., have legalized the use of medical marijuana. And, a total of 19 states, plus D.C., have fully legalized marijuana–which covers recreational or “adult-use” as well. This number is also about to increase with the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Ohio as well.
Just like legalization, regulations for cannabis are also determined at the state level. This includes mandates around purchase limits, who qualifies for the use of medical marijuana, testing procedures, and more. But, at the federal level, a separate set of rules also exist and according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) marijuana is still considered an illegal substance. Understandably, this not only causes clashes between the federal and state entities, but also a great deal of confusion for marijuana businesses and consumers.
In this blog, we’ll break it down by talking through the cannabis regulations currently in place in Massachusetts, and additionally how marijuana is tested within the state in order to keep local medical marijuana patients and adult-use cannabis consumers safe.
Cannabis Regulations in Massachusetts
Despite stringent federal regulations, Massachusetts voted to legalize the use of medical marijuana in 2012, and additionally legalized recreational, or adult-use cannabis, at the end of 2016.
This is possible because the federal budget includes “provisions to protect states’ rights to responsibly regulate medical cannabis programs”, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, signed into law in 2014, additionally prohibits the Justice Department from allocating funds towards interfering with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws. And, the House of Representatives has voted multiple times to stop medical cannabis crackdown.
Since the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts, rules and regulations around the substance have been set by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and specifically the Cannabis Control Commission. The commission lays out rules as it pertains to both medical and adult-use cannabis.
When it comes to medical marijuana, Massachusetts lists out different medical conditions which qualify patients 18 and older to participate and receive a Medical Marijuana Card from a licensed healthcare provider. Qualifying conditions include cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple sclerosis (MS), or other debilitating conditions as determined in writing by a certified physician. Patients under 18 years of age, must be approved by Massachusetts-licensed certifying physicians and exhibit a debilitating life-limiting illness or condition.
Most other cannabis regulations in Massachusetts pertain to both kinds of marijuana users. Both parties may grow cannabis at home for personal use, but only to a certain extent. All users are prohibited from consuming marijuana in a public place, crossing state lines with cannabis products, or mailing it. Driving under the influence of cannabis is also illegal, and it also must be in a closed container if being transported in a car.
Purchase limits for cannabis in Massachusetts are set at 1 ounce of flower, 5 grams of concentrate, and 500 milligrams of edibles per person per day. There is no limit on cannabis topicals or ointments, however.
Massachusetts also requires all marijuana items to feature a label which includes the seller’s name, THC and CBD percentages, warning of any health risks, and the testing date and test results.
Cannabis Testing in Massachusetts
All cannabis products sold at Massachusetts dispensaries must be tested by a licensed marijuana testing facility and all results are only valid for one year.
According to MassachusettsCannabis.org, “Marijuana or cannabis are required to be tested for environmental media, such as soils, water, and solid growing media. Marijuana is also tested for cannabinoid profile and contaminants as specified by the Cannabis Control Commission, including, but not limited to mold, heavy metals, mildew, plant growth, bacteria, fungi, mycotoxins, terpenes, regulators, and the presence of pesticides. Final ready-to-sell marijuana vaporizer products must also be screened for heavy metals and Vitamin E Acetate (VEA).”
Marijuana products are collected as representative batch samples in ready-to-use condition. The frequency of these sample collections is determined by product type, patient demand, etc.
There are currently two types of cannabis testing laboratories in Massachusetts: Independent Testing Laboratory (ITIL) and the Standard Laboratory. Both must be licensed and registered with the Cannabis Control Commision and qualified to test marijuana products. But, a Standard Laboratory also has the power to conduct blind taste tests to validate findings from an ITIL. There are currently 15 licensed Independent Testing Laboratories in Massachusetts.
To learn more about both medical and recreational cannabis in Massachusetts, visit UpTop’s FAQ page. Or, stop in to one of our cannabis dispensary locations in Framingham or West Roxbury. Our expert Budtenders are always there to help!