How to Get a Massachusetts Marijuana Card and What the Card Means
I receive countless emails and phone calls every day from patients who are seeking a Massachusetts marijuana card, but don’t know how to obtain one. The medical marijuana law in Massachusetts is rather straight forward.
In order to become a compliant medical marijuana patient in Massachusetts, a patient must obtain a written certification from a doctor. I advise my clients to speak with their primary care physician first. The reason I recommend speaking with one’s primary care physician first is because the law requires a “bona fide physician-patient relationship.” What does that mean? At a minimum it means that a doctor should review your medical history before certifying you for the medicinal use of marijuana. The law was drafted to avoid the doctor mills that popped up across California, where a patient would spend three minutes detailing the pain in their knees to a doctor, and after paying $200.00 obtain a certification (recommendation in California) from that doctor. Thankfully, the medical marijuana program in Massachusetts seems to have more credibility than the program in California.
As of now the Department of Public Health, which is overseeing the medical marijuana program, is not issuing cards. A patient needs to keep a copy of the certification from the doctor with them, and that will act as their card. Eventually a patient will be required to send the certification form in to the Department of Public Health, with a simple application including their name, date of birth and address, unless they are homeless. As of now there is no application fee associated with becoming a patient, and it will probably stay that way.
This card, or certification until cards are issued, should give the patient an immunity from arrest. Unfortunately, my experience in California is that some members of law enforcement fail to respect medical marijuana laws and force patients to prove themselves innocent in a court of law. I don’t want to spin off-topic, so that may be the subject of another blog post.
The Massachusetts marijuana card or certification also allows a patient to cultivate medical cannabis sufficient for a 60 day supply. How much is that? The DPH is figuring that out right now and will let us know when they do. Make sure you grow in a locked area. Post your certification on the wall in the area you are growing, so that law enforcement will see immediately that it is a medical marijuana grow. Eventually, when treatment centers (dispensaries) open a patient may be forced to purchase cannabis from them instead of growing their own. The patient who wishes to continue growing will have to apply for a hardship cultivation registration from the Department of Public Health. The hardship will need to be something like the physical incapacity to get to a treatment center, or the fact that there is no treatment center within a reasonable distance, or possibly a financial hardship.
If your doctor is not opposed to medical marijuana, but does not know how to certify you for the use, read the text of the new law for guidance. Go to our forms page to get the forms you will need to obtain your Massachusetts marijuana card. If you still do not know what to do, contact us, schedule a low-cost consultation, and we will meet, discuss the law with you, both state and federal, and answer any of your questions. Some places like Cannamed don’t need our form as they do everything themselves. You can also check out the Compassionate Caregivers of Massachusetts website to find a physician who will certify you.
I explain how to become a caregiver, and the relationship between caregiver and patient status in this blog post.
What does this mean for federal law? Well, nothing. Under federal law, as was detailed to me once by a DEA agent, and is clear from the Controlled Substances Act, any amount or use of marijuana remains illegal. The President and the Attorney General have made it clear that they are not prosecuting patients who comply with medical marijuana law. Such prosecutions are extremely rare but your Massachusetts marijuana card is not an immunity from federal prosecution.
I hope that helps explain how to obtain your Massachusetts marijuana card. Please post with any questions or concerns and I will try to follow-up.