Massachusetts Medical Marijuana

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What is Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, residents may use marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes. Marijuana use is therapeutic if it helps the user manage symptoms of debilitating health conditions like cancer, glaucoma, HIV, hepatitis C, or Lou Gehrig's disease. The Center for Medical Cannabis Research has shown that cannabis effectively decreases symptoms like nausea, inflammation, anxiety, headaches, and more. Cannabinoids, the active compounds in cannabis, have a positive effect on the human body. Specifically, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are valuable in improving human health.

The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission is responsible for regulating marijuana use and registering medical cannabis users. The commission allows qualifying patients to obtain medical marijuana cards - giving them access to medical cannabis dispensaries.

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Massachusetts?

Yes, medical marijuana is legal in Massachusetts. After Massachusetts voters approved Question 3 of the 2012 ballot initiatives on November 6, 2012, medical marijuana became legal in the state. This initiative, codified in Chapter 369 of the Massachusetts General Laws (An Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana) allows persons diagnosed with specific medical conditions to use cannabis products for medical purposes. The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) is the agency that regulates the state's medical marijuana program.

Who Can Get Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts?

According to Chapter 369 of the Massachusetts General Laws, a person diagnosed with any of the following medical conditions may qualify for medical marijuana treatment:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis C
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Crohn's disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis

A person diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition may register with the state's medical marijuana program as a medical marijuana patient. Registered medical marijuana patients and caregivers in Massachusetts can legally purchase cannabis products from registered medical marijuana treatment centers for medical use.

Can You Grow Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts?

According to Title 935 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR), registered medical marijuana patients in the state may grow up to 12 mature and 12 immature cannabis plants at home. Also, per Title 935, Section 501.027 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR), medical marijuana patients may obtain hardship cultivation registration from the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC). Hardship cultivation registration allows registered medical marijuana patients to grow cannabis plants at home to maintain a 60-day supply of medical cannabis (10 ounces of cannabis). This type of registration is reserved for:

Registered medical marijuana patients or caregivers in Massachusetts growing marijuana plants at home are required to lock their cultivation areas to prevent access by unauthorized persons. Also, they must ensure that their cultivation areas cannot be seen from streets or other public spaces.

Do You Need to See a Doctor to Get Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts?

Yes. Per the provisions of Chapter 369 of the Massachusetts General Laws, medical marijuana patients in the state must consult with qualified healthcare providers and obtain written certifications for medical marijuana treatment. Medical marijuana patients need such certifications when applying for medical cannabis cards under the Massachusetts medical marijuana program. Qualified healthcare providers only issue certifications for medical marijuana treatment when patients' potential benefits from medical marijuana outweigh possible risks.

The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) does not provide a registry of qualified healthcare providers for medical marijuana treatment certification. However, according to the provisions of Title 935 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR), healthcare providers must register with the state's medical marijuana program before they can certify patients for medical marijuana treatment. The kinds of healthcare providers that can certify patients for medical marijuana in Massachusetts are:

  • Doctors of Medicine (MDs)
  • Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs)
  • Certified nurse practitioners (CNPs)
  • Physician assistants (PAs)

Can a Minor Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Massachusetts?

Minors (persons under the age of 18) are allowed to use medical marijuana in Massachusetts. According to Title 935, Section 501.010 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR), a minor must be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition by two qualified healthcare professionals one of whom must be a:

  • Pediatrician
  • Pediatric subspecialist
  • Oncologist
  • Neurologist
  • Family physician

Healthcare professionals must inform minors' parents or legal guardians about the potential risks of medical marijuana on neurological development before recommending medical cannabis treatment for their patients. Also, the parent or guardian of a minor must provide written consent for medical cannabis treatment before their ward can obtain certification from a qualified healthcare professional.

How to Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card in Massachusetts

Medical marijuana cards issued under the Massachusetts medical marijuana program permit patients with qualifying medical conditions and caregivers to purchase marijuana products from licensed medical marijuana treatment centers. Also, medical marijuana registration cards allow registered medical marijuana patients and caregivers to possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana products for medical use. To obtain a medical marijuana registration card in Massachusetts, a person with a qualifying medical condition needs:

  • Certification for medical marijuana treatment from a qualified healthcare provider
  • Valid government-issued photo identification such as a driver's license
  • A colored photograph of themselves taken within 6 months prior to their medical marijuana registration card application

It is possible to apply for a Massachusetts medical marijuana card online or by mail. However, according to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), online applications are faster and more convenient. To apply for a medical marijuana registration card online, the applicant should visit the Massachusetts medical marijuana program online portal and create an account. Following this, they should submit the required documents and complete their online medical marijuana card application.

Persons whose Massachusetts medical marijuana registration card applications are approved will be able to print temporary versions of their cards. Temporary cards can be used to purchase marijuana products at licensed medical marijuana treatment centers for up to 14 days. Applicants will receive physical copies of their Massachusetts medical marijuana registration cards via mail within 7 to 14 days.

To apply for a Massachusetts medical marijuana registration card via mail, the applicant should download and complete the medical marijuana patient registration form. Next, they should attach the required documents to the completed registration form and send them via mail to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) at:

Cannabis Control Commission

Medical Use of Marijuana Program

Worcester Union Station

2 Washington Square

Worcester, MA 01604

Does Massachusetts Allow Medical Marijuana Patients to Designate Caregivers?

According to Title 935, Section 501.002 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulation (CMR), medical marijuana caregivers are individuals or institutions that assist registered medical marijuana patients in administering cannabis products. Caregivers also obtain and transport marijuana products on behalf of registered medical marijuana patients.

There are two types of caregivers under the Massachusetts medical marijuana program: personal caregivers and institutional caregivers. A personal caregiver is an individual, 21 years or older, who helps a registered medical marijuana patient to administer marijuana products or cultivate cannabis plants at home for medical use. If a personal care attendant, home health aide, or visiting nurse serves as a medical marijuana patient's personal caregiver, they cannot cultivate marijuana plants for their patient. Personal medical marijuana caregivers in Massachusetts are allowed to manage a maximum of five patients at once.

Institutional caregivers are employees of long-term care facilities, hospice programs, or hospitals providing care to registered medical marijuana patients within their institutions' facilities. Institutional caregivers are not permitted to cultivate marijuana plants on behalf of their patients. Personal and institutional medical marijuana caregivers are required to register under the Massachusetts medical marijuana program and obtain caregiver registration cards. Caregivers are not automatically assigned to medical marijuana patients under the Massachusetts medical marijuana program. Patients are allowed to designate caregivers by themselves, and they may designate up to two caregivers at once.

What Is the Cost of a Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Card?

According to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), patients registering with the state's medical marijuana program do not need to pay registration fees. Also, personal and institutional caregivers are not required to pay for registering with the state's medical marijuana program. However, patients are required to pay a non-refundable $10 fee for marijuana registration card replacements if they lose their original cards. Nevertheless, per Title 935, Section 501.005 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR), qualified patients who are recipients of MassHealth or the supplemental security income or whose incomes are below 300% of the federal poverty level may request fee waivers. Medical marijuana registration cards in Massachusetts require renewal after one year. Cardholders are not required to pay when renewing their medical marijuana registration cards.

What Do You Need When Visiting a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Massachusetts?

Licensed medical marijuana treatment centers in Massachusetts usually check the state's medical marijuana registry database to verify buyers' identities before dispensing cannabis products to them. Registered medical marijuana patients and caregivers must provide their registration cards and valid government-issued photo identification when purchasing marijuana products from licensed medical marijuana treatment centers in Massachusetts.

How to Renew Your Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Card

Massachusetts medical marijuana registration cards expire after one year and, therefore, require annual renewal. Medical marijuana patients may renew their registration cards 60 days before expiry. Persons renewing their medical marijuana registration cards must visit qualified healthcare providers to obtain new patient certifications for medical marijuana treatment if their previous certifications have expired. Medical marijuana patients may check the status of their patient certifications through their accounts on the Massachusetts medical marijuana program online portal. Alternatively, they may call the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) at 1 (833) 869-6820 to confirm the status of their patient certifications.

Medical marijuana registration cards may be renewed online or by mail. Persons with valid patient certifications or whose patient certifications were renewed by qualified medical providers may log into their accounts on the Massachusetts medical marijuana online portal and apply for card renewals. Medical marijuana registration card renewal applicants in Massachusetts receive their new cards by mail within 7 to 10 days. To renew a medical marijuana registration card by mail, the applicant should download and complete the medical marijuana patient registration renewal form. Following this, they should attach the required documents to the renewal form and send them by mail to the CCC at::

Cannabis Control Commission

Medical Use of Marijuana Program

Worcester Union Station

2 Washington Square

Worcester, MA 01604

Is it Possible to Overdose on Cannabis in Massachusetts?

A person overdoses on a particular drug when they consume more than their body can process. Overdosing on drugs can have different consequences - from mild incapacitation to death. Cannabis overdose does not result in fatalities. Instead, individuals that overdose on cannabis experience severe physiological and mental effects such as:

  • Increased heart rates: One adverse effect of using marijuana is an elevated heart rate. A high heart rate may trigger an increase in stress levels.
  • Anxiety: With an increased heart rate comes feelings of anxiety and panic. A person that overdoses on medical cannabis may find themselves overwhelmingly afraid of a potential outcome.
  • Coordination Challenges: Cannabis use can sometimes hamper hand-eye coordination and other movements. A person that overdoses on cannabis may be unable to move, let alone coordinate their activities.
  • Cognitive challenges: People that overdose on cannabis are usually unable to perform many cognitive tasks.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Although marijuana use can help ease nausea and vomiting, using it in large amounts can have the opposite effect.
  • Hallucinations: A person who overdoses on cannabis may see things or people who are not there and may have difficulty separating fact from illusion.
  • Memory loss: Cannabis use often leads to memory loss. When an overdose happens, the patient might forget entire sections of a day.

If I am Pregnant, Can I Use Cannabis to Relieve Nausea in Massachusetts?

Pregnant women often have to deal with stressful symptoms while carrying children. One of those is nausea. Also known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), women often experience nausea in their first or second trimesters. Because of this sickness, they eat less and have less energy to cater to their baby's needs.

Different women try to resolve nausea through various means. Some use cannabis as it is a valuable tool for relieving nausea and restoring appetite. However, according to the Boston Public Health Commission, using cannabis while pregnant presents significant risks to the infant and the mother. Some of the possible risks to the infant include:

  • The infant might be smaller than expected at birth;
  • The infant has a higher chance of being stillborn;
  • The infant might be born prematurely;
  • Secondhand marijuana smoke dangers;
  • The infant may grow to experience attention deficit disorder and behavioral problems in childhood.

Some of the risks present for the mother include:

  • Dizziness and the risk of falling;
  • Impaired judgment and the risk of injury;
  • Lower levels of oxygen in the body - causing breathing problems;
  • Lung damage (if the patient is smoking).
Massachusetts Medical Marijuana