Massachusetts Marijuana Distribution Laws

What Is Possession With Intent To Distribute Marijuana in Massachusetts?

Marijuana possession with intent to distribute (PWID) is the charge used by law enforcement when an individual is arrested for possessing marijuana in quantities determined to be more than for personal use. Marijuana possession with intent to distribute is not the same as simple marijuana possession. Note that Question 4, also called the Massachusetts Marijuana Legalization Initiative, legalized recreational marijuana in Massachusetts and permitted adults aged 21 or older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana or 5 grams of cannabis concentrate from licensed marijuana retailers. Hence, as long as no more than 1 ounce of marijuana or 5 grams of marijuana concentrate is found on an individual and there is no suspicion of distributing or selling the substance, such an individual may not be charged with marijuana PWID.

In order to be convicted for marijuana PWID in Massachusetts, the prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  • The substance found on the defendant was marijuana or contained marijuana
  • The defendant knowingly possessed some of the substance (marijuana)
  • The defendant intended to distribute more than one ounce of marijuana or 5 grams of marijuana concentrate to someone else
    • The defendant intended to distribute the marijuana for remuneration
    • The defendant intended to distribute a substance containing marijuana to another after advertising or promoting the transfer to the public
    • The defendant intended to distribute any amount or type of a substance containing marijuana to an individual under 21

Can You Enter a Dispensary at 18 in Massachusetts?

No. Only persons aged 21 or older can enter a cannabis dispensary to purchase recreational marijuana in Massachusetts. If you are aged between 18 and 20 and you try to enter a cannabis dispensary to purchase marijuana accessories or products, it is punishable by a fine. Persons under 17 will likely be punished by fines and the obligation to complete drug awareness programs if they enter cannabis dispensaries. You may face delinquency proceedings if you are under 17 and fail to complete the stipulated drug awareness program within one year.

Can You Enter a Dispensary Without a Card in Massachusetts?

You must show a valid government-issued identification card as proof of legal age (21) before entering a cannabis dispensary in Massachusetts. Massachusetts cannabis dispensaries will not sell marijuana products and accessories to persons who do not show acceptable identification cards showing they are above 21.

What Are the Penalties for Possession With Intent To Distribute First Offense in Massachusetts?

The penalties for marijuana possession with intent to distribute in Massachusetts are more severe than for simple marijuana possession. State laws governing drug possession with intent to sell offenses are contained by Section 32C, Chapter 94C of the Massachusetts General Laws.

Marijuana is classified as a Class D controlled substance in Massachusetts. For a first offense for the possession of Class D controlled substance with intent to distribute, the punishment is a 2-year sentence to a House of Correction or County Jail, a $500-$5,000 fine, or both.

Federally, possession with intent to distribute up to 50kg of marijuana is punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and $250,000 in fines. The penalty for marijuana possession with intent to distribute between 50 and 99 kg of marijuana is punishable by a maximum of 20 years imprisonment and $1,000,000 in fines under Section 841 of the United States Constitution. The penalty for marijuana amounts between 100 and 999 kg is a maximum 40-year prison sentence and a $5,000,000 fine. If you are caught with more than 1,000 kg with the intent to distribute, you face a maximum life imprisonment and a fine of $10,000,000.

Is It Legal To Sell Weed in Massachusetts?

No. It is illegal to sell weed in Massachusetts. Only licensed retailers are allowed to sell weed in the state. Although Question 4 permits Question adults aged 21 and older to grow up to 6 marijuana plants at home, sales can only be made by licensed persons. An individual caught selling marijuana may be charged with marijuana possession with intent to distribute or drug selling. Massachusetts considers it “selling” if you intend to receive any form of remuneration or an item of value in exchange for marijuana.

Note that Massachusetts law permits adults aged 21 or older to give away or transfer without any form of remuneration up to one ounce of marijuana to another adult, provided the transfer is not promoted to the public or advertised. However, it is also illegal to give away weed to anyone under 21.

How To Sell to Dispensaries in Massachusetts?

Medical cannabis dispensaries are vertically integrated establishments in Massachusetts. Hence, individuals cannot sell weed to dispensaries as they are required by law to be responsible for cultivating, processing, and manufacturing their own marijuana products. However, in the recreational market in the state, marijuana retailers are required to be vertically integrated. Therefore, in order to sell weed to marijuana retailers in the state, you must obtain a marijuana product manufacturer or marijuana transporter license.

A marijuana product manufacturer license authorizes the licensee to obtain, manufacture, process, and package marijuana and its products to deliver or transfer marijuana and its products to marijuana establishments but not to consumers. A marijuana transporter license permits the licensee to transport marijuana and marijuana products when such transportation is not currently authorized under another marijuana establishment license.

In order to set up a marijuana business to sell marijuana to retailers, you must find a location and get it approved by local authorities in the city or municipality, register your business, and obtain the applicable marijuana establishment license.

How To Get a Distribution License in Massachusetts

Massachusetts does not issue a marijuana distribution license. The state's equivalent of the marijuana distribution license is the marijuana transporter license. The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission issues the license in two categories: the third-party transporter license and the existing licensee transporter license. The third-party transporter license is issued to a marijuana establishment holding no other marijuana establishment license pursuant to 935 CMR 500.050 and is not a marijuana dispensary under 105 CMR 725.000. The existing licensee transporter license permits the licensee to contract with other licensed marijuana establishments to transport marijuana and its products to other approved marijuana establishments.

To commence an application for a transporter license in Massachusetts, visit the Massachusetts Cannabis Industry Portal (MassCIP). During the application, you will be required to complete three sections:

  • Application of Intent (AOI): In this section, you must disclose any persons with direct or indirect interests in the business. You will be required to show that you have the capital resources required for business operations, comply with the relevant local requirements and state requirements, and pay the application fee ($1,500 for third-party transportation license application and $1,000 for existing licensee transporter application)
  • Background Check: Here, you and other persons of interest in the business must submit to background checks to determine your suitability for licensure
  • Management and Operations Profile: This section will provide the Massachusetts CCC with an indication of your understanding of the legal requirements of running the business and a snapshot of your approach to operating the marijuana transportation business

After the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission reviews your application and determines it to be successful, you will be notified to pay a $5,000 license fee to obtain the license. For more information on obtaining a marijuana transporter license in Massachusetts, review the CCC’s Guide on Licensure, or contact the Cannabis Control Commission at (774) 415-0200 or Commission@CCCMass.com.

Massachusetts Marijuana Distribution Laws