The History of Marijuana in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has a history with marijuana dating back to the 1600s when certain colonies were required to grow industrial hemp. Hemp was widely grown throughout colonial America because it’s a fast-growing plant that’s easy to cultivate with many uses, so Massachusetts produced the crop along with Connecticut and Virginia. These early hemp plants had very low levels of THC, so farmers certainly didn’t use them to smoke, but that didn’t stop Massachusetts from becoming the first state to outlaw marijuana.

In 1911, Massachusetts passed the first law in the United States restricting the sale of cannabis, except by licensed pharmacists from a doctor’s prescription. Some argue the state first banned the drug in 1914, but either way, it took nearly another 100 years for the state to introduce new legislation. By 2008, voters approved a ballot initiative decriminalizing the possession of marijuana, so now adults can possess up to an ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to six mature cannabis plants. Then in 2012, voters moved forward again by approving medical marijuana, so now patients with qualifying conditions can purchase from registered marijuana dispensaries. Now, Massachusetts continues to move forward with marijuana reform as the state comes close to establishing a regulated marijuana market similar to alcohol.

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