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Medical Marijuana in Massachusetts

January 14, 2016

Category:

Researched and Prepared by: Attorney Amy Manchester for Bowser Law

Now that marijuana use in Massachusetts is authorized for medicinal purposes, many questions have arisen amongst the citizens of the Commonwealth. We hope to answer some of these questions for you.

 

How do I become a card holder?

In order to obtain marijuana in the Commonwealth, a person must possess a prescription obtained from a physician. A person with a prescription may also cultivate his own marijuana pursuant to regulations set forth by the Department of Health.

 

Where can I purchase marijuana for medical use?

As of the end of January 2014, the Commonwealth has approved 20 different marijuana dispensaries in 19 cities/towns across 10 counties.

 

What is a dispensary?

A dispensary, per Massachusetts law, is also known as a “medical marijuana treatment center.” A dispensary acquires, cultivates, possesses, processes transfers, transports, sells, distributes, dispenses, or administers marijuana, products containing marijuana, related supplies, or educational materials to qualifying patients or their personal caregivers. A dispensary must apply for status to become a registered location.

 

Who can buy from a dispensary?

Patients who are authorized to possess marijuana for a particular condition are allowed to purchase marijuana from a dispensary. The qualifying patient must obtain a written certification from a physician for a debilitating medical condition. The law specifies: cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and other conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician. The law allows qualified patients to possess up to a 60-day supply of marijuana for their personal medical use.

Caregivers are also allowed to purchase an approved amount of marijuana on the patient’s behalf from the dispensary itself. A caregiver is defined in Massachusetts law as a person who is at least twenty-one (21) years old who has agreed to assist with a qualifying patient’s medical use of marijuana. Personal caregivers are prohibited from consuming marijuana obtained for the personal, medical use of the qualifying patient. An employee of a hospice provider, nursing, or medical facility providing care to a qualifying patient may also serve as a personal caregiver.

 

What are the limits of the law permitting the use of medical marijuana?

Health insurance providers and government agencies are not required to cover the costs associated with medical marijuana use, nor are they required to reimburse a qualifying patient or caregiver. Further, medical professionals are not required to prescribe marijuana to a patient even if he or she is suffering from the conditions as specifically described in the law. The law does not permit authorized card holders to use marijuana in public places including schools, their places of employment or correctional facilities. Most importantly, the legalization of medical marijuana use in the Commonwealth does not provide federal immunity to qualifying patients.

 

How does possession of a medical marijuana card affect OUI?

Despite the fact that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has passed the use of marijuana for medical purposes, it is still illegal to operate a motor vehicle, boat or aircraft while under the influence of marijuana. Keep in mind that marijuana can stay in your system for an extended period of time, so if you use cannabis at night and then drive the next morning and are pulled over by a police officer, you may still test positive for marijuana. Additionally, just because you may be a licensed card holder, possession of a medical marijuana card is not a defense to operating under the influence of drugs. If you are arrested for operating under the influence of marijuana, the prosecution is still required to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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