Marijuana Laws, Regulations, and Future


Grace Keith, Contributor

As you all know, marijuana is legal to use in Massachusetts for both recreational and medical purposes under certain limitations. It is time for high school students in particular to start learning more about legal usage of marijuana: what can and can’t be done, as well as what is expected to come.

On November 8th, 2016, Massachusetts became the first state on the East coast to legalize the usage of cannabis for both medical and recreational use. In 2008, Massachusetts voted to decriminalize marijuana, reducing the penalties for its possession and distribution. Four years earlier, in November of 2012, the usage of marijuana for medical purposes was made legal. The first medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts were created in 2015 and can be found around the state.

As of now, in order to purchase marijuana from the medical dispensaries in the state, you must have a medical marijuana card in possession, which is prescribed through the consent of a doctor. You cannot get a medical card if you are not a Massachusetts resident. No recreational dispensaries have been opened yet to the public.

In stores, a few different strains of cannabis flower will be put on the market; sativa, indica, and hybrid. The indica plant is usually under six feet tall with fat dark green leaves, originating from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and areas surrounding these countries. High quality indica leave you both relaxed and social. Stronger strains will numb your body and put you to sleep. Sativa plants have light green, thin leaves, and grow up to 25 feet tall. Sativa plants are the typical marijuana icon. This leaf typically leaves users in an uplifting, energetic, and happy state. Hybrids fall between the indica-sativa spectrum, a mix of the two different plants.

Workers at these recreational shops will be referred to as “budtenders,” and will sell the following marijuana products:

  • concentrates: essential oils of the cannabis plant. These oils are very potent.
  • Edibles: Cannabis infused foods, candies, or drinks. Also very potent. Important to check serving size before buying, and effects set in within an hour.
  • Topical products: creams, lotions, massage oils infused with cannabis. They are not psychoactive so they will not give you a high.
  • Seeds: used to grow your own marijuana plants.
  • Clones: Healthy seedlings ready to be grown.

The price for these products will depend on the amount of cannabis within them. Prices range between $10-$30 per gram, depending on the store and quality. With a medical marijuana card, you are legally allowed to possess a 60-day supply prescribed by a doctor. Now that marijuana is legal for recreational use, adults will be able to possess up to one ounce of the cannabis flower. All marijuana products bought in Massachusetts must be used in Massachusetts. Your purchase must also be used in a private residence, it cannot be used in a public area.

Another marijuana product, called a dab, has become popular for its strong effects and high THC content. Dabs are essential oils and waxes of the cannabis plant that have been extracted and concentrated into a more potent wax form. It is recommended to use extreme caution when dabbing if you are not a regular cannabis user. It is important to know what is in the essential oils of a dab before purchasing it to clarify its safety. Some dab waxes end up being concentrated incorrectly, leaving them with high amounts of butane or other unnatural solvents. It is safest to take a dab that has been produced through a carbon dioxide extraction process, where CO2 is the only solvent used to mechanically extract essential oils out of the cannabis plant.

Remember: even though marijuana is legal in the state of Massachusetts, you can certainly still get in trouble for illegal or abusive use.