January 1, 2013
The new medical marijuana law is effective.
On or Before January 2014
The state will issue at least 14 but no more than 35 treatment centers to operate, with a minimum of one but not more than five issued in each county.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The medical marijuana system is still in the process of being implemented, and so rules that patients must follow are evolving. The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance will post information as it becomes available.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does the medical marijuana law do?
The medical marijuana eliminates state criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana by qualifying patients. To receive these protections, you must obtain a written certification, from a physician with whom you have a bona fide physician-patient relationship, stating that you patient have a specific debilitating medical condition and would likely obtain a net benefit from medical use of marijuana.
Over next several months, the state will set out a process that will require patients and their doctors to submit information to the Department of Public Health (DPH) so that patients can be issued a medical marijuana registration card. Watch this website closely to make sure you are aware of how to keep your status as a medical marijuana patient current as the system evolves.
For now, a written certification from your doctor provides you with protection from state criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana.
How do I become a medical marijuana patient under the new law?
To become a patient protected under the Massachusetts medical marijuana law, you will need to obtain a written recommendation from your doctor. You must be a resident of Massachusetts.
For now, a written certification from your doctor provides you with protections for the medical use of marijuana. Over the next several months, the state will set up a system that will require doctors and patients to submit information to the state. Patients will then receive a registration card that needs to be renewed every year. Watch this site to stay posted as the system evolves.
CLICK HERE for step-by-step instructions on obtaining a doctor’s recommendation.
How much medicine can I possess as medical marijuana patient?
Patients may possess a 60 day supply of medicine. which is up to 10 ounces.
Can I grow my own medicine?
Only a very small group of patients with permission from the state based on financial hardship or lack of a treatment center within a reasonable distance will be allowed to grow their own medicine when the law is fully implemented and dispensaries begin to open. At that time, the state will set up a process for patients who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), are on MassHealth, or whose incomes are less than 300% the federal poverty level to apply for hardship cultivation privileges.
How do I obtain my medicine before the treatment centers open?
The law affords patients with a debilitating condition and a written doctor’s recommendation the right to grow a limited amount of their own medicine to ensure patients with legitimate need have an option for safe access while we wait for the dispensaries to open.
Can I appoint a caregiver to transport medicine for me or cultivate on my behalf?
Patients can appoint two caregivers. Caregivers may transport medical marijuana for patients. They may also cultivate medical marijuana on behalf of patients who have been granted hardship cultivation registrations, but only at one location.
Each caregiver can only be connected to one individual patient.
When implementation is complete, there will be a process for patients to submit information to the state that will designate who they have chosen to be their caregiver(s).
Over the next several months, the state will set up a system that may require patients to designate their caregiver using a different system. Watch this site to stay posted as the system evolves.
Until regulations are written, patients with a debilitating condition and a written doctor’s recommendation can designate a caregiver by mailing specific information to the state.
CLICK HERE for step-by-step instructions on appointing a caregiver.
How many patients can each caregiver provide medicine for?
Regulations only allow caregivers to care for one patient. There is one exception to this rule: an immediate family member of more than one qualifying patient may be a caregiver for multiple patients who are also immediate family members.
“Immediate family member” means a spouse, parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling,
A patient who is cultivating may also cultivate for a second patient who has designated them as one of their personal caregivers.
Can caregivers be compensated for cultivating medicine for patients?
Regulations state, “A personal caregiver may not receive payment or other compensation for services rendered as a personal caregiver, other than compensation for reasonable expenses incurred in the provision of services as a caregiver provided however that a caregiver’s time is not considered a reasonable expense.”
How much medicine can be cultivated on behalf of a qualifying patient?
Qualifying patients or their caregivers may only cultivate enough medicine to maintain a 60 day supply of marijuana for the patient’s medical use. A 60 day supply is no more than 10 ounces of usable marijuana.
I have already received a written recommendation from a doctor. When the state finishes setting up a registration system for patients, will my recommendation still be valid?
Written recommendations received before the system is set up for patients to receive a registration card from the state remain valid until January, 2014. Patients who now have written recommendations will have to submit information to the state before that date in order to maintain their status as qualifying medical marijuana patients. Watch this site to stay posted about when the system is set up so that you will know when the state begins accepting applications for medical marijuana registration cards.
I have a written recommendation from a doctor who is not licensed in Massachusetts. Is this valid?
Regulations require that doctors writing recommendations for medical marijuana are licensed in Massachusetts. Regulations also define what constitutes a bona fide physician-patient relationship.
Bona fide physician-patient relationship means a relationship between a certifying physician, acting in the usual course of his or her professional practice, and a patient in which the physician has conducted a clinical visit, completed and documented a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition, has explained the potential benefits and risks of marijuana use, and has a role in the ongoing care and treatment of the patient.
If you received a written recommendation before regulations went into effect on May 24, 2013, and it was written by a doctor not licensed in Massachusetts, or was issued by a doctor with whom you DO NOT have a bona fide physician-patient relationship, the safest thing for you to do is to get a new recommendation that meets these requirements.
How can I apply for a registration to operate a medical marijuana treatment center?
The state recently opened the application process for registered marijuana dispensaries.
For more information, follow this link.
This information is intended for educational purposes only. No reliance, expressed or implied, may be made on the information on this page or on any of its links. Any persons considering enrolling as a patient or caregiver in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts should consult an attorney first. This web page and its related links do not advocate that anyone violate state or federal law. The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance is not responsible for any damages incurred as a result of your reliance on the educational information on this page.