The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance (MPAA) represents the coalition of patients, caregivers, family members, medical professionals, and public health groups that helped draft and pass the 2012 ballot question to legalize medical marijuana.  Since the medical marijuana law was passed, MPAA has worked continuously with the Department of Public Health and other stakeholders during the roll out of medical marijuana to ensure implementation of the law was completed in a manner that worked for both individual patients and communities as a whole. We continue working everyday for safe access as we lead medical cannabis into the mainstream through our educational events and materials, advocacy, research, and our efforts to protect patient rights.

The Problem

Medical Cannabis Patients Continue to Face Stigma in Mainstream Medicine and Struggle for Safe Access

While medical cannabis patients have started to obtain access to safe and regulated products in Massachusetts they continue to face stigma at home, work, school, and within mainstream medical institutions.  Cannabis patients facing hospitalization are often discontinued from their normal regimen of medical cannabis because institutions refuse to allow these patients to medicate within their walls.  Medical cannabis patients should expect a continuance of care if they're hospitalized or require further assistance in medical facilities. 

Even with the passage of adult use, medical cannabis patients struggle to find safe and regulated products.  Dispensary access is still severely lacking and product variety remains low.  

Our Mission

MPAA is a non-biased resource for individuals and organizations inquiring about the medical marijuana program.  We are on a mission to work with local and state governmental bodies to ensure the social welfare of medical marijuana patients, doctors, caregivers, medical professionals, advocates, and the general public while developing and implementing laws, policies, and regulations related to medical marijuana and its safe use. 

 

Executive Board

Nichole Snow

President & Executive Director

Nichole Snow is the president and executive director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance and one of ten Ex-Officio Advisors to the MA Cannabis Control Commission.  The MPAA works with local and state governmental bodies to ensure the social welfare of medical marijuana patients,...

Elizabeth Dost

Clinical Director

We are proud to welcome and introduce to you our Clinical Director, Elizabeth Dost. Elizabeth is a registered nurse and senior health care executive with more than 20 years experience in Boston-area healthcare. Her experience in palliative care treatment brings to our executive board the knowledge and compassion...

Michael Latulippe

Development Director

Reporting to and in partnership with the Executive Director (ED), the Development Director will spearhead development efforts as the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, Inc. continues to grow. Michael’s core responsibility will be to design and execute on a comprehensive development strategy for the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, Inc....

MPAA Accomplishments

$50 Fee for Patient Annual Registration and Renewal Removed

Instant Access Certification for New Patients!

Big Announcement for 2019! We are proud to announce that after two years since we first helped craft an amendment to Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2017 to create instant patient protections with the honorable Representative Frank Smizik, Instant Access Certification has been launched by the Commission!

Beginning July 1, patients will get faster access to medical marijuana - By Shira Schoenberg, Jun 25, 2019

Instant Access Certification:  New patients are now able to go from their Certifying Physician, Nurse Practitioner, or Physician Assistant's Office directly to the Medical Dispensary.

*Patients for the time being will still need to complete the registration process online to obtain their permanent card, but there will no longer be a wait for new patients to get immediate patient protections.

Patient Supply Safety Net Protection

MPAA led the charge with many other advocates for the Commission to develop a patient supply safety net of 35% of all products within a co-located marijuana establishment.  This was an amazing accomplishment and a first of its kind protection for patients in the country.

Pot panel hears competing views in last public hearing - By Ethan Forman, Feb 14, 2018

"Patient Frank Shaw of Ipswich said he has witnessed first-hand discrimination and the disproportionate impact of the drug war on the gay community when those dying of AIDS turned to medical marijuana for relief when there were no other drugs.

Shaw, like others, said the commission must develop a "patient supply safety net" to ensure a supply of medical marijuana when recreational sales start.

"Medical marijuana patients are not recreational consumers," Shaw said. "Patients like me cannot afford the luxury of experiencing a shortage of medicine beginning in July if co-locator establishments are not prepared to handle the demand of serving both patients and consumers," Shaw said."

Protection from Exploitation

In order for the patient supply safety net to work, co-located operators must save 35% of all products available for a period of six months.  If you were told you would have to buy a strain you liked through the adult use side it would break the patient supply safety net protections because it would not be included in the six months of data.    

If you have been told that you need to purchase a specific strain through the adult use system and outside the virtual gateway, we want to hear about it, and so does the Cannabis Control Commission.

MA Cannabis Control Commission

Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance

Patient Priority at Co-Located Marijuana Retailers

Not only do patients have supply protections, patients are prioritized in many ways inside and outside co-located marijuana retailers. 

  • Prioritized Parking:  Registered Patients are to receive prioritized parking at co-located retailers.  If you experience any issues parking at your favorite medical dispensary please send your experiences to the emails listed above under patient supply protection. 
  • Prioritized in Lines:  Registered Patients not only have access to a patient priority line, they also have access to all lines within a co-located marijuana retailer.  If you as a patient have been told you could only go into the medical line to make purchases please send your experiences to the emails listed above under patient supply protection.
  • Prioritized Products:  Registered Patients are supposed to have priority access to all products available within a co-located marijuana retailer.  Have you been told something is for adult use only?  If you have been denied access to your medicine or were told you could receive "Medical Pricing" on adult use products, please send your experiences to the emails listed above under patient supply protection.”

 

To support our ongoing mission to create safe access in Massachusetts, please consider becoming a monthly donor for $10, $15 , or $25 a month. To make a one time donation of any amount, please click here.

If you are a Small Business/Corporation that wants to list Advertisement at Events, on our Website, or on Materials, please contact us here.

Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance relies on individual and corporate donors to support our mission. Please note: corporate donations are in exchange for Advertising Only (ie. Listing on Events, Webpage, and Materials.) Please make a donation today to support our ongoing mission of creating safe access to our medical program for patients, caregivers, and physicians that is managed by the MA Cannabis Control Commission.

MPAA Agenda

Our Mission:  The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, Inc. will have the purpose of working with local and state governmental bodies to ensure the social welfare of medical marijuana patients, doctors, caregivers, medical professionals, advocates, and the general public while developing and implementing laws, policies, and regulations related to medical marijuana and its safe use. The corporation will conduct such other activities and programs in furtherance of the foregoing purposes as may be carried out by a corporation organized under the massachusetts general laws chapter 180 and under section 501(c)(4) of the internal revenue code. The corporation will not engage in any activity that requires registration with the massachusetts department of public health.

 

Since the inception of the 'Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana' and its passage in 2012, the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance's agenda has been solely to support the patients and their safe access to medical marijuana.  We aim to implement the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Program as written in statute and as intended in spirit.

Throughout the years, our organization's task list may have changed, but our agenda has remained the same.  Safe access for patients!

 

2020

A New Vision

Stay Tuned for Updates!

2019

The Year of The Patient

Big Announcement for 2019! We are proud to announce that after two years since we first helped craft an amendment to Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2017 to create instant patient protections with the honorable Representative Frank Smizik, Instant Access Certification has been launched by the Commission!

Beginning July 1, patients will get faster access to medical marijuana - by Shira Schoenberg, Jun 25, 2019

Starting in November, medical marijuana patients in Mass. will no longer have to pay annual fees - by Felicia Gans, October 22, 2019

 

2018

Patients Continue to Advocate for the Medical Marijuana Program's Implementation

Q&A with Nichole Snow, head of Mass. Patient Advocacy Alliance - Boston Business Journal 

"What are some of the challenges potential business owners face in opening a dispensary? Demand is high, but market participation in the medical cannabis market is limited to a vertically integrated dispensary model. Applicants that do want to specialize in medical cannabis have enormous hurdles in front of them and that is very high prerequisite capital requirements, limited available real estate in cities and towns, and a requirement for vertical integration. The MPAA is advocating to lower those barriers to entry and eliminate the vertical integration requirement in the situation a market participant wants to specialize in producing a product, cultivating a certain strain that is in high demand for medical purposes, or providing healthcare level customer service to their patients. Some small and mid-level businesses want their focus to be reinvesting in their patients, research and development, and their host communities. I think we want to encourage that ethos and not stifle it."

2017

Preserve and Maintain the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Program for Patients

Supported Amendments to Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2017,  An Act to Ensure Safe Access to Marijuana (which amended Chapter 334 of the Acts of 2016)

Medical marijuana advocates fear changes to pot law written by Christian M. Wade Statehouse Reporter

"The House and Senate are debating a host of changes to the voter-approved law, which allows adults 21 and older to have up to 10 ounces of the drug, and a dozen pot plants on their property. Most of the proposed changes focus on increasing a 12 percent maximum tax rate and giving cities and towns more power to block retail pot shops, which are set to open next year.

But the proposals also would shift regulation of medical pot from the state Department of Public Health to a new cannabis control commission, which would operate similar to the state’s casino board.

Medical marijuana advocates say that essentially lumps people who use cannabis for medicinal purposes in with those who just want to get stoned.

“This is a medical industry that has taken years to develop,” said Nichole Snow, executive director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, which represents medical pot patients. “Now they want to change it to an adult-use industry.”

Hurting medical marijuana

Snow said the focus on commercial pot will marginalize patients and hurt medical marijuana dispensaries that are still struggling to develop a viable industry.

That’s what happened in Washington state, she said, which effectively dismantled its medical marijuana program last year, merging it with recreational pot. Most medical dispensaries were shut out of the recreational market, Snow said, and scores of pediatric patients couldn’t get their medicine."

2016

Expand the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Program to Underserved Communities

State's newest medical marijuana dispensary is located inside an old bank in Brookline (Photos) by Gintautas Dumcius, Feb 16, 2016 - Fifth Medical Marijuana Dispensary 

6th medical marijuana dispensary opens in Mass. by Kay Lazar Boston Globe, February 17, 2016

Massachusetts' 9th Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens in Newton report by Craig Lemoult, WGBH

"It’s been four years since Massachusetts voters approved medical pot, and this is just the ninth dispensary to open. 55 others are well into the approval process."

2015

New Baker Administration Revamps Licensing Process; Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance Begins Support of Statewide Implementation of the MA Medical Marijuana Program

Demand soaring at state’s lone marijuana dispensary by Kay Lazar, Boston Globe, June 2015

"More than 20,000 people have obtained the required physician certifications to legally buy marijuana for medical use, and nearly 12,000 of them have completed registration to shop in a dispensary, state records show.

“There are a lot of patients out there who still need access to medical marijuana, and the big concern is that they are getting medicine from an unregulated market,” Snow said. “We want the lab testing to be thorough but not so stringent that dispensaries can’t provide the medicine patients need.”

The case of the 10,000 missing medical marijuana patients - More than 20,000 people were told by doctors that they would benefit from medical cannabis. But so far, only half have registered. Where are the rest? by Allison Manning, Boston.com July 28, 2015

Massachusetts medical marijuana program faces deficit over $1 million written by Shira Schoenberg, MassLive

The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance has been critical of how long the medical marijuana licensing process has taken, and Snow said the deficit is another consequence of a process that was too stringent.

"They were spending money on God knows what, and it wasn't to make any progress," Snow said. "They spent money that just wasn't there."

A spokesman for a trade association representing several of the state's licensed dispensaries declined to comment.

The projected deficit is only the latest setback for a program that has been beset by problems. There have been lawsuits by unsuccessful medical marijuana companies, though judges have generally found in favor of the state. Applications that were provisionally approved were found to have problems, such as overstated levels of local support or officers who had trouble running dispensaries in other states. But when the state put the licensing process on hold to do additional checks, patient advocates complained of delays.

Department of Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, who was appointed by Gov. Charlie Baker, announced recently that the administration is revamping the licensing process. The new process will allow dispensaries to apply for licenses on a rolling basis, and each one will be scored individually. Previously, the state set deadlines for applications, then analyzed the entire group simultaneously.

2014

Patients Call for Action 

Medical marijuana patients threaten lawsuit over slow pace of dispensary licensing by Shira Schoenberg, MassLive

A group of medical marijuana patients on Monday called it "scandalous" that Gov. Deval Patrick's administration will take more than two years to open any medical marijuana dispensaries.

"The lack of movement on implementing the law is becoming a serious public health issue, it's a quality of life issue and at this point, it's an issue about ineffective government and leadership," said Matthew Allen, executive director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance. "We're outraged, and we feel the process has now been subsumed by politics before patients, and it appears the governor wants to try to skip out of office without addressing medical marijuana."

2013

MA Department of Public Health works to implement the Medical Marijuana Law

Medical marijuana: Massachusetts law, what you need to know - WCVB Updated: 11:22 PM EST Feb 19, 2013

2012

Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative passes in Massachusetts

Chapter 369 of the Acts of 2012, An Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana (repealed by Section 47 of Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2017)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MPAA In The News

DPH slows medical marijuana fixes, infuriating patients

Governor Charlie Baker’s administration has frozen an effort to expand the availability of medical marijuana, infuriating advocates who say the long-pending regulatory changes — which include allowing more medical professionals to prescribe and administer the drug — would help tens of thousands of sick patients.

“Medical marijuana patients are being...

More medical pot dispensaries offering home delivery in Massachusetts

Often facing long drives to the nearest medical marijuana dispensary, some patients with debilitating conditions are opting for home delivery.

“It’s something that patients say they really want,” said Nichole Snow, a Salem resident and president of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance. “Many patients are homebound, really ill or don’t...

Cannabis Control Commission meets with its advisory board

The Cannabis Advisory Board met for the first time in Boston on Tuesday at a joint meeting with the Cannabis Control Commission.

The 25-member board is tasked with studying and making recommendations to the Commission on the regulation and taxation of marijuana.

State begins writing weed regs

The panel that will study and make recommendations on regulating marijuana in Massachusetts — the first piece of a growing regulatory structure — is on track to be finalized by the end of the week when the governor names the final five members.

Nichole Snow, president and executive director of...

Medical pot access on cape remains limited

Nearly five years after voters made marijuana legal for medical purposes, the Cape and Islands are still without a single dispensary, which has forced many patients to turn to the black market or legally questionable delivery services to purchase what they say is life-improving medicine.

“Patients are not being served...

Ruling means Massachusetts companies can't fire workers for medical marijuana

Massachusetts companies cannot fire employees who have a prescription for medical marijuana simply because they use the drug, the state’s highest court ruled Monday, rejecting employers’ arguments that they could summarily enforce strict no-drug policies against such patients.

“We are thrilled that the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has ruled...

Medical marijuana advocates in Massachusetts fear changes to pot law

Lisa Cole fought for years to get state approval to give medical marijuana to her 8-year-old daughter, and she searched even longer for a doctor willing to prescribe it.

“This is a medical industry that has taken years to develop,” said Nichole Snow, executive director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy...

Parents fear loss of medical marijuana for seizure control

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ plan to end the use of medical marijuana has Lisa and Laurence Cole concerned.

Nichole R. Snow, executive director of Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, which drafted the medical marijuana initiative, said dozens of more dispensaries are set to open soon, which likely means a wider...

A 28 percent tax on marijuana? That’s the plan under the latest bill

In a sweeping rewrite of the voter-passed marijuana legalization measure, House leaders will advance a bill Wednesday that would more than double the total tax on recreational pot and give municipal officials — instead of local voters — the power to ban cannabis shops and farms.

“The Justice Department could,...

Recreational pot challenges medical shops

Can medical marijuana survive in a recreational marijuana world?

Massachusetts advocates are also calling on the state to ease some regulations on patients, including eliminating the $50 registration fee and two- to four-week waiting period to receive a medical marijuana card. That should boost enrollment and make the medical market...

Contact

Have questions about the medical cannabis program in Massachusetts?  Want to ask a question to a member of the MPAA team?  Please fill out the form below and contact us with any inquiry you may have.

To send Snail Mail via USPS, our mailing address is MPAA, 1 Beacon Street, 15th Floor, Boston, MA 02108

To reach Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance call 617-286-4427 and please leave a voicemail message