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On November 6, 2012, 63% of Massachusetts voters approved Question 3, the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative. The law took effect on January 1, 2013, eliminating criminal and civil penalties for the possessions and use of up to a 60-day supply of marijuana for patients possessing a state issued registration card. With a recommendation by a physician, patients with cancer, glaucoma, and other medical conditions can receive a registration card. The law allows for 35 state-licensed non-profit dispensaries. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has until May 1, 2013 to issue further regulations. Marijuana dispensaries will not be able to open until after the regulations have been set. The Massachusetts Medical Society opposes the bill, saying there is no scientific proof that marijuana is safe and effective. After the law passed, towns attempted to ban dispensaries. Attorney General Martha M. Coakley ruled that cities and towns cannot ban dispensaries, and can only regulate them. Complete bans would conflict with the law.


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The Boston Freedom Rally is an annual event on the third Saturday in September. It is the second largest annual gathering demanding marijuana law reform in the United States. The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition organizes the event. The event began in 1989, and has been held on the Boston Common since 1992. The city of Boston has tried to stop the event, but has been unable to do so.


  • Massachusetts became the first state to restrict cannabis on a state level


    Prohibiting the sale of "Indian hemp" without a prescription.

  • Massachusetts voters passed a ballot that decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana


    The Massachusetts Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative made the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana punishable by a fine of $100 without the possessor being reported to the state’s criminal history board. Minors also had to notify their parents, take a drug awareness program, and complete 10 hours of community service. Before decriminalization, people charged faced up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

  • Massachusetts Becomes 18th state to Legalize Medical Marijuana


    Voters in Massachusetts approved Ballot Question 3 by a vote of 63% to 37%, "allowing doctors to prescribe the drug to patients suffering serious medical problems...

  • Cannabis became legal for recreational use


    Governor Charles Baker signed legislation on 30 December 2016 extending the start date for recreational pot sales by six months, to July 2018.


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