Many people followed the legalization of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts in 2016, but medical marijuana has been legal in the Bay State for nearly a decade.
Since 2012, medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts have been helping patients find ways to treat a variety of medical conditions. Medical dispensaries offer medical marijuana to qualifying patients, and in Massachusetts, many recreational dispensaries also provide services for medical patients. Fine Fettle in both Rowley and Martha’s Vineyard is both recreational and medical.
There are many qualifying conditions to obtain a medical card, and some of the most common include:
- Chronic pain
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Cancer pain
In the words of Dr. Jay Cavanaugh, "Many of the chronically ill have successfully sought relief with the use of medical cannabis, an age-old remedy that now shows real scientific efficacy."
In this article, we’ll cover five things you should know about getting medical marijuana in Massachusetts.
1. With a qualifying condition, it’s easy to get medical marijuana in Massachusetts
Medical marijuana is becoming more accessible to anyone in Massachusetts who needs it, but you need to have a qualifying health condition to be eligible for a medical card. Whether you’re a patient, recreational user, or caregiver, take the time to know the Massachusetts laws and understand the effects of marijuana before you visit a dispensary.
2. Applying for a medical marijuana card in Massachusetts only takes a few steps
To apply for a medical marijuana card in Massachusetts, you need to be a Massachusetts resident with a qualifying health condition, which includes:
- Hepatitis C
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
If you qualify, there are few steps to take next before you can register as a marijuana patient:
Step 1: See a doctor
You’ll need to visit your doctor (or a doctor that specializes in cannabis) and talk to them about whether medical marijuana is right for your condition. If they think it is, they’ll certify you and provide you with a PIN number.
Step 2: Go online
Once you’re certified, you can register online with the Medical Use of Marijuana Program online database. You’ll need proof of ID, the PIN provided by your doctor, and a current photograph to register.
Step 3: Choose a caregiver
Massachusetts allows you to designate two caregivers via their online system. This gives your caregivers the ability to buy medical marijuana on your behalf. You don’t need to get marijuana from these caregivers if you’d rather just go to a dispensary.
Step 4: Bring your card
Whenever you visit a dispensary, bring your medical marijuana card and your ID, even if you’ve been there before!
3. Your Massachusetts doctor can prescribe you medical marijuana and help you get a card
Your Massachusetts primary care provider can’t give you a medical marijuana card during your visit, but they can help you get certified with the state, which then mails you the card.
However, doctors must go through MA Department of Health training to certify medical patients. If your regular doctor can’t prescribe medical marijuana, you can go to a specialty clinic to get your certification.
Once you’re certified by a qualifying doctor, simply register online and you’ll receive your medical card in the mail.
4. A Massachusetts medical marijuana card costs $0, but you must pay for the doctor’s visit
There’s no longer a fee to register as a medical patient in Massachusetts. The fee was “an obstruction to health care,” said Nichole Snow, executive director of the MPAA. “No other medicine requires a $50 fee."
You’ll need to pay for your doctor’s visit, however, which will likely cost about $200 depending on the provider. If you lose your medical card, there’s a $10 replacement fee. Many people say that the $200 pays for itself considering the savings you’ll get with your card (no 20% tax on purchases) over the course of a year.
5. It takes a few weeks to get your Massachusetts medical marijuana card in the mail
Medical marijuana applications are reviewed in the order they’re received, so your wait time will vary. Generally, it can take one to three weeks for your application to be approved, and then an additional week or two to receive your physical card in the mail. All said and done, it could be a month before you get your medical card.
But don’t worry – the doctor that certifies you will provide you with a temporary card (really a piece of paper) that you can use to buy medical marijuana while you wait for your actual card to come in the mail.
Once you have your medical marijuana card, visit Fine Fettle!
Feel free to browse the Fine Fettle online menu for the best high-grade cannabis products and gear. Stop in at our dispensary in Rowley or when you are on Martha’s Vineyard for one-on-one support from our knowledgeable budtenders to find the right product for you.