How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card if I Live in Massachusetts
Back in 2008, Massachusetts decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Then, in 2012, they took a huge step by becoming the 18th state to legalize medical marijuana. At this time, Massachusetts law required that all patients be registered with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) before they were able to obtain a medical marijuana card and thus purchase medical marijuana products.
However, in 2016 recreational marijuana was legalized, and the first recreational dispensaries started opening in the state.
So, why get a medical marijuana card if marijuana has now been fully legalized in Massachusettes? Well, it turns out there are a variety of reasons. Firstly, legislation is slow. While recreational marijuana was legalized in 2016, the first stores only started opening in June of this year, 2018. And it could be even longer before cannabis is available over-the-counter in your area.
Another reason is tax exemption; while recreational users could pay both state and local tax rates of up to 20%, patients will remain tax-exempt.
Also, you should consider possession limits. While recreational users have to be 21-years or older to purchase, possess, cultivate and use marijuana, medical marijuana patients only need to be 18-years-old.
Furthermore, patients can purchase or even grow up to 10 ounces every 60 days, and possess up to 10 ounces at any one time. Recreational users, on the other hand, can possess up to 10 ounces at home but are only allowed to cultivate up to six plants at a time (or purchase or be in possession of one ounce when they are outside their home).
Massachusetts could still establish even more incentives to ensure that medical marijuana cards are worth keeping. So, let’s take a look at the basic steps for getting your hands on a medical marijuana card in Massachusetts.
Eligibility for Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in Massachusettes
Firstly, you need to determine if you are eligible to obtain a medical marijuana card in Massachusettes. This is a fairly easy step: if you are 18-years or older, a Massachusetts resident, and suffer from one of the state’s qualifying medical conditions, then you should be able to get a card.
You will need to provide proof of identity and proof of residency. Proof of residency can include one of the following:
- Utility bill
- Motor vehicle registration
- Tuition bill
- Marriage certificate
- Property tax bill
- First class mail received from state or federal agency
- Car insurance policy
- Mortgage/lease/loan dated within past six months
Furthermore, if you are unsure of whether or not you will qualify for a medical marijuana card in Massachusettes based on the medical condition you are currently in, here is a list of the updated qualifying conditions:
- Hepatitis C
- Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Chronic pain
- Multiple sclerosis
- Seizures or muscle spasms
Obtain a Doctor’s Recommendation and Apply for Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts
According to legislation, a doctor must determine that the benefits of treatment with marijuana will outweigh the potential risks associated with using it.
And indeed this is the second step in getting medical marijuana in Massachusettes: you need to get a recommendation from a certified physician (honesty is essential when having a discussion with your doctor about using medical marijuana).
In other words, be clear about your health situation, what medications you are currently on, and why you believe that medical marijuana will help you.
If the doctor agrees that medical marijuana could be a helpful treatment for your condition, they will give you a written recommendation to receive a medical marijuana card. As part of this approval process, the doctor will submit an electronic patient certification to the Massachusetts Medical Use of Marijuana Program.
Not all doctors in Massachusettes are willing to give a medical marijuana recommendation – some of them feel that they are not familiar enough with marijuana, and/or that possible side effects may exist and therefore aren’t comfortable recommending it. If your doctor is unwilling, there are a number of sites online to find medical marijuana doctors in the state.
Patient Application for Medical Marijuana in MA
Once you have received a doctor’s recommendation, you will be sent (emailed) a unique 4-digit pin and instructions on how to complete the online patient application. There are two parts to registering online:
- Part 1: You will be told to create an account and scan a photo ID on the Mass.gov Virtual Gateway. When that’s complete, you will receive a confirmation email, and your account will be activated.
- Part 2: After registering with Virtual Gateway, you will receive an email link to the MMJ online system.
The first step as part of this process is to upload your photo ID and current passport-style photo. This is the same photo that will be used on your medical marijuana card. If you already have a photo loaded on the Massachusetts RMV database, you can upload and use it through their online portal.
Next, you will pay a $50 application fee. If you submit proof of low-income status, you can qualify for a waiver on this fee. After reviewing your application, you can submit it and then wait for approval.
Acceptable forms of photo ID include the following:
- Massachusetts drivers license
- Massachusetts state ID
- U.S passport and proof of residency
- U.S military ID and proof of residency
Everything Accepted? You Can Now Officially Get Medical Marijuana in Massachusettes!
Once you have been approved by the program, you will receive a temporary ID that you can print directly from your computer. When your official card is ready, you will receive it in the mail.
However, until then, you will be able to use your temporary card to begin making purchases at the dispensary. If everything is approved and accepted, you can now get medical marijuana in Massachusettes safely and legally – or if you prefer, even cultivate yourself in your own home!
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