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Massachusetts Drug Cultivation and Distribution Laws

If you're found with illicit substances, you can be charged with various drug-related crimes. One of the most common charges is drug possession. Other more serious charges stem from violating a state's drug distribution or drug cultivation laws. Depending on the evidence, you could be charged with drug possession with the intent to sell or distribute.

Some states make the distinction by requiring that the defendant have a specific amount of illegal drugs in possession to trigger a possession with intent to distribute charge. However, in other states like Massachusetts, an individual can be charged with this crime under more subjective circumstances such as possessing baggies or a scale.

Drug Distribution in Massachusetts

Massachusetts prohibits any individual from knowingly and intentionally manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a controlled substance. "Distribution" is a very inclusive term and refers to the process of transferring the drugs from one party to another. Massachusetts' drug distribution laws cover a range of drug transactions and include grand-scale examples of drug trafficking as well as lower profile street dealing.

Cultivation of Marijuana in Massachusetts

Although marijuana is legal in Massachusetts, the law still has some restrictions including authorized cultivation. Non-participants in the state's medical cannabis program can legally grow up to 6 plants and possess up to one ounce and/or up to 5 grams of concentrate and up to 10 ounces of marijuana flower in the home for personal use.

Classification of Controlled Substances in Massachusetts

Massachusetts classifies controlled substances by "schedules." The five classes of schedules are based on their level of dangerousness and dictate the specific charges and penalties. Class A (including heroin) and Class B (including methamphetamines) substances are considered the most dangerous and carry the most severe charges with the highest penalties; class D (including marijuana) and class E (including anti-anxiety drugs) substances are considered the least dangerous.

Massachusetts Drug Cultivation and Distributions Laws: Summary

It takes a lot of time and commitment to read statutes in their entirety. To save time, it's helpful to unpack the law with an explanation written in easy-to-understand terms. Read the chart below for a summary of drug cultivation and distribution laws in Massachusetts.


Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 94C:


Possible Penalties and Sentencing


The actual penalties will depend on the specific facts of the case and factors including the amount of the drug and the defendant's criminal history. The following guidelines are potential penalties for first time offenders.

Distribution/possession with intent:

Class A

  • 10 years incarceration
  • $10,000 fine

Class B

  • 10 years incarceration
  • $10,000 fine
  • Mandatory minimum sentence of 1-year imprisonment with cocaine/crack or methamphetamines.

Class C

  • 5 years incarceration
  • $5,000 fine

Class D

  • 2 years in jail
  • Maximum $5,000 fine

Class E

  • 9 months in jail
  • Maximum $2,5000 fine

Enhanced Penalties

Distribution or possession with intent to distribute Class A, B, or C to a minor:

  • Heroin: Mandatory minimum 5 years in prison, up to 15 years; fine up to $25,000.
  • Cocaine: Mandatory minimum 3 years in prison, up to 15 years; fine up to $25,000.
  • Class B Other Than Cocaine: Mandatory minimum 5 years in prison, up to 15 years; fine up to $25,000.

Possible Defenses

  • Personal use possession
  • Entrapment
  • Fourth Amendment violations

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Massachusetts Drug Cultivation and Distribution Laws: Related Resources

Connect with an Attorney about Massachusetts Drug Charges

Violating Massachusetts' distribution and cultivation laws can result in severe penalties and the loss of your freedom and livelihood. If you're facing charges, it's important to get protected with an experienced drug crime attorney who can analyze your options and determine the best and most persuasive way to present your defense.

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