Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Law

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Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Law Overwhelmingly Approved by Voters

Massachusetts’ medical marijuana laws were originally covered by Chapter 369 of the Acts of 2012, which was amended–and will eventually be replaced in full–by H.3818.

The following identifies and explains some key aspects of these laws.  For more in-depth information, please visit our webpages for patientscaregivers and dispensaries.

Patients, doctors, caregivers, and dispensary operators who are compliant with Massachusetts’ medical marijuana laws cannot be held criminally liable under state law for their participation in the medical marijuana program.

Although dispensaries were previously required to be not-for-profit by Chapter 369 of the Acts of 2012, H.3818 allows treatment centers to be any kind of domestic corporation or business entity recognized by Massachusetts state law. Dispensaries may possess, provide, and process (e.g., make foods or tinctures) marijuana for patients and caregivers.

The law provides for personal caregivers to assist patients in obtaining and using medical marijuana.  The relevant regulation states that, unless affiliated with a medical facility, a personal caregiver may not act serve in this role for more than one patient at a time and may not be paid for their services as a personal caregiver. This significant limitation on caregiving is a clear indication that patients are encouraged to procure their medicine from treatment centers if at all possible.

H.3818 allows patients to purchase up to 10 ounces of marijuana within a 60 day period.

The law defines what a written certification is.  A document signed by a Massachusetts physician stating that in that doctor’s opinion the benefits outweigh the health risks for the patient, and it needs to state what the debilitating condition is. Many doctors are hesitant to certify their patients for medical marijuana despite the fact that the law went into effect on January 1st, 2013.  This site offers a form for download for a doctor to use in certifying their patients for the medicinal use of marijuana.  The law also requires that the doctor-patient relationship be bona fide.  The “bona fide physician-patient relationship” is an attempt to stop the doctor mills that popped up in other states.  We will see how certifications from places like Cannamed in Framingham hold up under scrutiny, considering whether their relationship with the patients is bona fide.  At a minimum, “bona fide” means that the doctor reviews a patient’s medical history and has a role in the ongoing care and treatment of the patient.  The Massachusetts Medical Society has weighed in on this issue.  See our blog post regarding the Society’s thoughts on the issue of bona fide.  The draft regulations have incorporated many of the MMS’s suggestions on what constitutes a bona fide relationship.

Patients may cultivate their own marijuana only if they apply for and receive a cultivation license from the responsible state government agency.  Such a license will be granted only if the patient demonstrates financial hardship or cannot easily access a medical marijuana dispensary due to a physical disability, lack of access to reasonable transportation, or lack of a medical marijuana dispensary within a reasonable distance of the patient’s home.

A letter to the DPH designating a patient’s personal caregiver, with the certified mail return receipt and a copy of the patients certification shall constitute a card for the patient’s caregiver.  Caregivers: keep a copy of the patient’s certification form, the return receipt from the post office and the letter designating you as the patient’s caregiver with your cannabis in any form.  It might behoove you to post them on the wall of the area you may be cultivating.  Caregivers be aware of the new regulations, and when they go into effect your role will change.  Check the caregiver page for updates.

If you want to illegally sell marijuana, it would probably expose you to less risk not to participate in the Commonwealth’s medical marijuana program.  The penalties increase significantly if you illegally sell marijuana under the guise of doing so in compliance with the medical marijuana program.

If you would like to discuss these laws and how you can become compliant with a Massachusetts medical marijuana compliance attorney, contact us.  We encourage you to post your comments or thoughts about Massachusetts medical marijuana law here or visit our medical marijuana law blog.

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