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February 23, 2024

The history of the legalization of cannabis in Massachusetts is unique and shows just how much the views on this natural product have changed. In 1911, Massachusetts was the first state to make it illegal to purchase marijuana without a prescription, with other states following this trend.

This continued as the status quo for almost a century. In 2008, the state decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, with the voters approving a bill allowing for the sale of medical marijuana. In 2016, the voters did the same for the legalization of recreational cannabis, opening the doors to recreational dispensaries in the state.

However, despite the legalization of both medical and recreational cannabis in Massachusetts, there are still over one hundred towns in various counties across the state with bans or moratoriums on retail marijuana dispensaries and outlets.

Over the last few years, Massachusetts has become the fourth ranking state for marijuana sales. In the last five years, the sales of recreational and medicinal cannabis have exceeded five billion dollars, with approximately 21% of the adult population reporting they use marijuana. People across the state are choosing a variety of different formulations of cannabis products, from beverages and edibles to tinctures and pre-rolls. Traditional flower is also still a popular choice, as are an increasing number of vaping products that contain THC.

There are two options to choose when purchasing cannabis products from a dispensary in the state. Understanding the different options will help you select the right product for your circumstances.

In-Store Shopping

Shopping at a local cannabis retail store or dispensary provides a range of benefits for those new to the use of marijuana and those looking for something different or unique.

Shopping in a dispensary is like shopping in any type of specialized boutique store. The dispensaries or stores are typically smaller in size and have items grouped by specific types. For example, the edibles will be in one section, while tinctures, topicals, or vape carts will be in their own sections.

Flower is typically in specialized containers that control temperature and moisture to preserve quality and freshness. Items may be located behind the counters or in glass display cases to provide compliance with state marijuana marketing and sales laws.

In-person shopping allows you to easily browse the inventory of the store, while also having the benefit of personalized assistance. Store staff, sometimes called budtenders, can make recommendations on strains, cannabis products, or specific formulations that may be a good fit for your health and wellness needs. It can be helpful to shop at off-peak times, as there may be wait times and limited hours for some dispensaries.

Finding a local dispensary should be easy using an online search. Enter where you want to shop and look for dispensaries or retailers in your area. Take the time to consider ratings and reviews before making your selection.

Online Ordering

Online ordering is great for those with a good idea of what they want and what works best for their health and wellness needs. Online ordering is available 24/7/365, with the option for delivery in local areas or pick-up of the order during the store's retail hours.

Shopping online eliminates the concern of wait times at the store while also making it easy to take your time in reviewing the dispensary's inventory. For those who like to try something new, the search feature for online shopping makes it easy to pinpoint a specific cannabis product, brand, strain, or formula and find the products offered that meet those criteria.

When ordering online, individuals must verify their age to access the website. After choosing items and adding them to the cart, payment is required. Different dispensaries accept various payment methods. Whether you choose delivery or pick-up, you must have an approved, valid, and current government ID. The purchaser's name must match the individual and the ID for both delivery and pick up at the dispensary.

Comparing the Two Shopping Options

The following chart highlights the benefits and potential challenges of both online and in-person shopping.


Buying Online

Buying In-Person


High (order from home, delivery options)

Lower (requires physical visit)

Product Selection

Matches store inventory

Full offering, includes last chance inventory


More private, discreet

Less private due to physical presence

Product Inspection

Cannot inspect before buying

Can inspect, smell, and discuss products

Advice and Guidance

Limited, mostly online reviews

Personalized advice from staff

Price Comparison

Easier to compare prices online

Harder to compare with other stores

Immediate Access

Delivery time required (which may be less than an hour)

Immediate purchase 

Legal Restrictions

Dependent on local laws

Regulated and compliant with local laws

Payment Options

Often limited to online payment methods

More payment methods (cash, credit)

Customer Experience

Impersonal, automated

Personal with the opportunity for assistance from staff

The customer experience for either online or in-person purchases is generally high based on the quality and focus on providing information by the dispensary. Online information about products is often challenging to understand for those new to the use of cannabis, but it is straightforward to understand for those familiar with the products.

A top dispensary will have high ratings and reviews from both types of buyers, including providing customer support for online purchases.

Legal Considerations and Regulations

It is important to remember that the legal requirements around the limits for cannabis purchases are controlled by the state, not by the dispensaries. However, the dispensaries must adhere to sales limits for both online and in-person purchases.

Currently, the Massachusetts Recreational Marijuana Laws limit purchases and possession of recreational marijuana to one ounce of marijuana or 5 grams of concentrate. Individuals cannot have more than 10 ounces of marijuana in their possession at their residence. Marijuana cannot be consumed in public, transported in an open container (not locked or sealed), and it cannot be transported out of the Commonwealth or given to individuals under 21.

It is the consumer's responsibility to understand the state's purchase and possession laws to ensure they comply with the latest legal requirements.


Recreational cannabis users in Massachusetts can legally purchase marijuana either online or in person throughout the state. Both purchasing options have advantages for those new to the use of marijuana and those who are looking for new products and options.

Buying recreational marijuana in person or online from a reputable dispensary ensures you are staying within the laws for the use of cannabis. Responsible use of recreational cannabis allows you to enjoy all the health and wellness benefits it provides.

What are your experiences when purchasing marijuana online or in person? Which option do you prefer and why?

Educational Information about Cannabis from Temescal Wellness


Cannabis Leaf Illustration

Framingham Recreational

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Hudson Recreational

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Cannabis Leaf Illustration


Medical Cannabis



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