Suffolk County Cannabis Overview

  1. Massachusetts Cannabis
  2. Suffolk County Cannabis

Is Cannabis Cultivation Legal in Suffolk County?

Yes. Section 4 of the Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 94G establishes the Cannabis Control Commission in the state of Massachusetts. This commission, which is mainly responsible for the safe, equitable, and effective implementation of adult and medical use of cannabis or marijuana, oversees most of the processes involved in the cultivation, processing, manufacturing, and distribution of cannabis in the commonwealth. Cities and towns are also given the local control to adopt ordinances and by-laws that place appropriate protections n the operation of cannabis establishments.

Both outdoor and indoor cultivation of marijuana is allowed in the state of Massachusetts. In fact, according to licensing statistics, the Cannabis Control Commission has approved more than 1.1 million square feet of indoor cultivation, as opposed to up to 285,000 square feet of outdoor cultivation, and has placed energy requirements on indoor growers. Outdoor cultivation may be permitted by authorities provided that the cultivation area must be equipped with enough security measures to prove that it is not easily accessible to unauthorized personnel. This includes the installation of a perimeter security fence. 

Massachusetts permit persons of age 21 or older to cultivate marijuana at their homes in a location with a lock or other forms of safety device. Although home cultivation is legal, specific considerations are still provided by law:

  • Up to six plants may be grown in the person’s principal residence. To ensure that no more than six plants are flowering at a time, harvesting the plants on a cycle is advised.
  • If more than one individual aged 21 years or older lives in the residence, a maximum number of 12 plants may be allowed.
  • A Registered Qualifying Patient of the Medical Use of Marijuana Program Online System is allowed to cultivate enough supply to supplement their 60-day personal and medical needs, equivalent to 10 ounces of usable marijuana.
  • Landlords are allowed by law to restrict cannabis cultivation for their renters.
  • The cultivated plants should not be publicly visible, except if optical aids are used.
  • Other than alcohol, it is illegal to produce marijuana at home using any liquid or gas with a flashpoint below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Responsible cultivation should be one of the priorities of those qualified to grow marijuana at home. Indoor cannabis plant cultivation frequently calls for powerful lighting, precise temperature management, and increased ventilation, all of which can overtax electrical systems and result in fires. A certified electrician should be consulted to ensure all necessary fire codes are followed to lessen the risk of electrical fires. Furthermore, it is prohibited to extract cannabis oil using combustible substances like propane and butane as these substances emit readily explosive vapors. Additionally, it might be challenging to distribute cannabis uniformly throughout a product when producing edibles at home, such as cannabis-infused drinks or baked products. Controlling the edible's dose and strength may become challenging as a result. Lastly, it should be made sure to keep any marijuana-related goods out of the reach of kids and pets using a locked storage container. The marijuana may be forfeited along with a fine of up to $300 for breaking Massachusetts' law on home cultivation. 

Is Cannabis Manufacturing Legal in Suffolk County?

Yes. Section 5 of the Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 94G allows the licensing of marijuana establishments. An overview of the licensing process includes reviewing the laws and regulations, making plans, gathering information, holding a community outreach meeting, signing a host community agreement, submitting the application, waiting for approval, and final inspection. 

According to 935 Code Massachusetts Regs. § 500.002, a Marijuana Product Manufacturer refers to “an entity licensed to obtain, manufacture, process, and package marijuana or marijuana products and to transfer these products to other marijuana establishments, but not to consumers.” Aside from the requirements under 935 CMR 500.101(1)c, the following are also required from marijuana product manufacturers for license application:

  • Description of the varieties, forms, colors, and tastes of marijuana
  • Products intended to be manufactured
  • Production methods
  • Safety plans, including sanitary practices
  • Sample of unique identifying marks that will appear on the manufactured products
  • A complete description of the establishment’s plan in obtaining marijuana from a licensed establishment

The application fee for Marijuana Product Manufacturing licensing is $1,500, while the annual license fee is $10,000. All edibles must be handled, kept, and prepared in accordance with the sanitation requirements in 105 Code Mass. Regs. § 590.000 of the State Sanitary Code Chapter X and the requirements for food handlers specified in 105 Code Mass. Regs. § 300.000. The local boards of health are authorized to enforce safe handling requirements.

Is Cannabis Retail Legal in Suffolk County?

Yes. The retail of cannabis in Suffolk County is legal in accordance with the Cannabis Control Commission’s Guidance for the Retail Sale of Hemp. A Marijuana Retailer, as defined by the commission, is a company with the legal right to buy marijuana and marijuana-related items from other marijuana establishments (MEs), transport them, and sell or otherwise transfer them to other MEs and customers. Consumer-Ready Hemp Products can be bought and sold by marijuana retailers from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) - licensed processors. According to legislation, the Department does not require a license for a retail facility to sell items made from hemp. MDAR’s FAQs on the sale of hemp-derived products in the commonwealth provide a list of consumer-ready hemp products that can or cannot be wholesaled. 

Additionally, a marijuana retailer can send marijuana or marijuana-related products to customers. When co-located with a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center, a marijuana retailer must offer a retail space that is available to consumers 21 years of age and older and to qualifying patients with a Medical Registration Card. To transport marijuana or marijuana products, as well as marijuana accessories and branded goods, to customers or patients, a marijuana retailer can engage in a delivery agreement with a marijuana courier.

Several dispensaries and deliveries are available in different parts of Suffolk County. The businesses mentioned below are legitimate and operate under a current cannabis license from the state of Massachusetts. 

According to the online menus of their respective websites, these dispensaries offer a variety of cannabis products including flowers, pre-rolls, vaporizers, concentrates, edibles, tinctures, and topicals. Other retailers may be found by searching for licensed MTCs and MEs throughout Massachusetts using this website: https://masscannabiscontrol.com/find-a-retailer/.

In order to receive marijuana for medicinal purposes from a Registered Marijuana Dispensary, an adult patient must be able to comply with the following:

  • Display their Program ID Card and a form of government-issued identification
  • Possess a current certification from their physician
  • Be currently registered for the Program
  • Keep a current, valid form of identification on file with the Program.

Is Cannabis Delivery Legal in Suffolk County?

Yes. Medical cannabis delivery has long been allowed in the state of Massachusetts, this includes patients with medical marijuana ID cards. These patients are allowed to have cannabis delivered to their homes. It was only recently that new state licenses were created to allow the delivery of recreational marijuana.

Marijuana couriers and marijuana delivery operators are the two categories of delivery licenses in Massachusetts. Furthermore, various licensee categories can legally distribute marijuana for adult use and marijuana-related products:

  • Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers: After receiving Commission approval, these licensees can sell and distribute their marijuana and marijuana-related items to registered patients and caregivers.
  • Marijuana Couriers: These licensees are allowed to distribute marijuana and marijuana-related items from MTCs to authorized users and their caregivers, as well as from marijuana retailers to adults 21 and older.
  • Marijuana Delivery Operators: Consumers older than 21 may purchase marijuana and marijuana-related items wholesale from these licensees.
  • Microbusinesses with a Delivery Endorsement: To customers at least 21 years old, these licensees may sell and distribute their marijuana and marijuana-related items.

Massachusetts residents are allowed to have one ounce of marijuana, or its equivalent combined dry weight, delivered per day. The delivered marijuana and other marijuana-related items for adult consumption may be received by customers who are at least 21 years old. Prior to filling the order, customers will be pre-verified by the delivery operator by presenting the government-issued ID that will be used for delivery.

The Municipal Zoning Tracker of the Commission allows users to browse cities and towns that now authorize adult-use cannabis delivery. 

How to Get Medical Marijuana Card in Suffolk County

Residents of Massachusetts may obtain a Medical Marijuana Card on their own or by collaborating with reputable healthcare institutions. Getting a medicinal marijuana card in Massachusetts is simple. The most efficient and most practical way to register to possess marijuana for medicinal purposes is online with the Medical Use of Marijuana Online System. However, a person should first have a certification from a licensed healthcare professional. The Cannabis Control Commission provides detailed guidance for patients on registering with the medical use of marijuana program. 

To name a few, here are some things to keep in mind before beginning:

  • Must possess a qualifying chronic health condition
  • Have a valid Massachusetts ID and evidence of residence that is identical to the address on the ID
  • Must possess a computer to upload the registration paperwork to the state portal

A temporary paper Program ID card may be printed if the registration is accepted. On the other hand, the plastic Program ID card will be received in one to two weeks. Medical Marijuana Cards are issued every three years. However, registrations are only valid for a year. By following the directions mentioned, you may re-apply for registration, either on an annual basis or up to 60 days before the day when your registration expires.

A longer paper registration process is available if a resident is unable to register online. To get a paper registration form, please call (833) 869-6820.

How Has Cannabis Legalization Impacted the Economy of Suffolk County?

When Massachusetts legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2016, the law also contained a nation-first social justice provision and a need for economic empowerment. The rules are intended to promote "full participation" by minority-led firms and individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by drug prohibitions in the regulated cannabis economy.

Adult use of marijuana is subject to different taxes by the Massachusetts government and may be paid monthly, no later than the 20th day after the end of the tax period. State sales tax has a rate of 6.25%, state excise tax has a rate of 10.75%, while the local option for rates in cities and towns may be up to 3%.

Two authorized retail establishments started selling cannabis to adults in 2018, marking the start of the first sales of cannabis in Massachusetts. More than 80 outlets would be operational by the end of October 2020, and the state would have made more than $1 billion in sales, bringing in an estimated $170 million in state tax income. As of December 2021, marijuana officially brought in more tax revenue for Massachusetts than alcohol. At the midway point of the fiscal year, the state received $51.3 million from alcohol taxes and $74.2 million from cannabis taxes. Since the market opened in November 2018, adult-use marijuana has been purchased in Massachusetts for a total of $2.54 billion. 

The Effects of Cannabis Legalization on Crime Rates in Suffolk County

Massachusetts has declared cannabis use fully legal since 2016. It has been decriminalized and may be used medically. Because marijuana users do not frequently seek treatment for marijuana substance misuse or conduct violent crimes, the threat presented by marijuana in Massachusetts is typically viewed as smaller than the threat posed by heroin or cocaine. However, marijuana is widely accessible in the state, and its user population may exceed that of consumers of all other drugs combined. Additionally, compared to marijuana consumption, marijuana trafficking and sales had far greater links with violent crime.

Marijuana consumption in Massachusetts started to rise in 2012 prior to its legalization in 2016. The FBI Crime Data Explorer reported in 2016 that crime rates in Massachusetts related to driving under the influence of drugs (DUI) to be at 10,240, marijuana possession at 403, and marijuana sale offenses at 687. In 2017, data shows 9,080 crime rates related to DUI, 233 marijuana possession, and 456 marijuana sale offenses. In 2018, there were 8,671 crime rates associated with DUI, 185 related to marijuana possession, and 450 related to marijuana sale offenses. Data regarding the same crime rates were also reported in Suffolk County starting 2019. A total of 449 DUI arrests, five arrests for marijuana possession, and 23 arrests for marijuana sale offenses were recorded in 2019. Furthermore, in 2020, there were 64 DUI arrests, one arrest for marijuana possession, and 0 arrests for marijuana sale offenses in Suffolk County. While it may be too early to conclude, it can be seen that the trend for crime rates regarding these variables decreased after the legalization of cannabis.

Suffolk County Cannabis