How does your state measure up when it comes to establishing policies that reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition?

Harm Reduction

Does the state permit access to clean syringes for people who inject drugs?

  • YES

Does the state have naloxone training & distribution programs available to the public at syringe exchange programs or other facilities?

  • YES

Does the state have a 911 Good Samaritan law?

  • YES

Does the state have legal methadone access?

  • YES


Are marijuana possession and use legal for medical purposes?

  • YES

Is there a government-regulated distribution system for medical marijuana?

  • YES

More information on medical marijuana:

What are the criminal penalties for marijuana possession?

Criminal Justice

How many people are arrested for a drug offense each year? 

  • 11,155

What are the racial disparities in arrest rates?

  • Total population (2011): 84.1% white, 8.6% black.
    Drug arrests (2011): 74.5% white, 24.4% black.

What happens to people’s voting rights when they become part of the criminal justice system?

  • Vote restored after term of incarceration.

Massachusetts Becomes First State East of the Rockies to Approve Marijuana Legalization

2016 Election Shaping Up as Watershed Moment for Movement to End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

Neighboring Maine Also Voting on Marijuana Legalization; Results Expected Shortly

Voters in Massachusetts have approved marijuana legalization, making it the first state east of the Rockies to do so.


Tony Newman, 646-335-5384,

Massachusetts Department of Public Health Information Sheet on Massachusetts Good Samaritan Bill

March 20, 2009

This information sheet from the Massachusetts Dept. of Health describes the need for and benefit of a Good Samaritan law in the state.

Study on the Impact of Overdose Education and Naloxone distribution in Massachusetts

January 1, 2013

This study published in BMJ looks at the impact of state-supported overdose education and nasal naloxone distribution (OEND) programs on rates of opioid-related death from overdose and acute care utilization in Massachusetts.  It finds that opioid overdose death rates were reduced in communities where OEND was implemented.

MA State 911 Good Samaritan Overdose Law (§192.32.94C – 2012)

August 2, 2012

This is the text of Massachusetts' Good Samaritan law.

Law Atlas map of states with Good Samaritan laws

This in an online interactive resource for visualizing the states with Good Samaritan laws.

Opioid Overdose Prevention

The Official Website of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), Massachusetts

Over the past ten years opioid overdoses have increased significantly in Massachusetts. Opioids include heroin and prescription drugs such as oxycodone (oxycontin), fentanyl, hydrocodone, codeine, and methadone. In response to this growing problem, the Department of Public Health has implemented a number of projects to reduce the number of overdoses.

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