Supreme Judicial Court urges Massachusetts lawmakers to update medical marijuana home cultivation law

BOSTON — Massachusetts’ highest court is urging state lawmakers to change the law surrounding home cultivation of medical marijuana.

“Statutory and regulatory clarification would be most beneficial,” wrote Justice Scott Kafker in a decision issued Thursday in the case Commonwealth vs. Richardson.

Joshua Richardson is a medical marijuana patient who was arrested after the police found 22 marijuana plants growing in his basement. Massachusetts’ medical marijuana law lets patients grow enough marijuana to yield a 60-day supply for the person’s personal, medical use. A 60-day supply is defined as enough to provide 10 ounces of usable marijuana.

Prosecutors said Richardson was growing more than the limit and intended to sell the drug. Richardson argued that the limit is unconstitutionally vague.

The Supreme Judicial Court did not actually rule on whether the limit is too vague, since the court made other rulings that made a decision on that issue unnecessary. But the justices cautioned state lawmakers that the current law is problematic. The SJC suggested that a plant-based limit would be clearer than the current limit, which allows someone to grow up to a 60-day supply.

Of 15 states that allow home cultivation for medical marijuana, Massachusetts is the only state that defines a limit in terms of supply per period — i.e. a 60-day supply. Every other state uses a plant-based limit. Washington initially had a limit based on supply period, but lawmakers changed it to a plant-based limit after criticism that the rule created uncertainty.

Massachusetts’ recreational law also has a plant-based limit on how much marijuana someone can legally grow at home.

The justices wrote that the Richardson case showed that the amount of usable marijuana yielded by each plant depends on numerous factors, including the grower’s skill. “The ten-ounce rule provides some additional flexibility for patients who may

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