Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in Massachusetts: Your Step-By-Step Guide

If you’ve been thinking about getting your medical marijuana card in Massachusetts, you’re in the right place.

In 2016, the state legalized both medicinal and recreational cannabis use, leaving some people wondering whether it’s worth getting a medical card at all. If you’re still toying with the idea, wondering if you’ll qualify, or just have questions about how the process works, we’ll answer them here so you can make an informed decision. We’ll also give you a step-by-step guide to getting your Massachusetts medical card.

Ready? Let’s get rolling!

An Overview of Medical Marijuana Laws in Massachusetts

Cannabis laws in Massachusetts apply to both adult consumers aged 21 and older in addition to those who use cannabis medicinally. While recreational cannabis is available to any adult aged 21 or older, medical marijuana patients have no age restrictions. However, adults 18+ only need one doctor’s recommendation, while pediatric patients (minors under 18 years old) require written recommendations from two physicians—one of whom must be a pediatrician or pediatric specialist.

Am I Eligible for a Medical Marijuana Card in Massachusetts?

So, how do you go about getting your medical marijuana card, and what are the qualifying medical conditions? You might be surprised to learn that it’s not difficult to get your card, and more people qualify than you’d imagine. It also doesn’t take long: most patients are typically approved within 10 days.

Criteria for Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in MA

There are only three general requirements for getting your medical card in MA:

  • You have a written recommendation (or two for pediatric patients) from a Certifying Health Care Provider.
  • You are a legal resident of Massachusetts.
  • You suffer from a qualifying medical condition.

Certifying Health Care Providers may include physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants who are registered with the state and qualified to provide recommendations for the use of medical cannabis.

Qualifying Medical Conditions in Massachusetts

So what’s considered a qualifying medical condition for medical marijuana in Massachusetts? Anyone with a debilitating condition may qualify as long as they see a Certifying Health Care Provider who determines their condition could be treated with medical cannabis. Here are a few examples of conditions that typically qualify for treatment:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (aka ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • HIV+/AIDS
  • Any other conditions with similar symptoms as determined by a qualifying physician.

If you have one of these conditions or a condition of similar severity, it’s worth talking to your doctor or a state-certified healthcare provider about your options.

4 Benefits of Having a Medical Marijuana Card in Massachusetts

For some, it might seem like an added hassle to pay for a doctor’s visit and go through the registration process if you’re old enough to visit a dispensary anyway. But there are benefits to including a physician or other health care provider in your medical treatment, even if you’ve been using cannabis therapeutically on your own.

Let’s take a more detailed look at four major benefits of having a medical marijuana card in Massachusetts.

1. Patient-Specific Pricing and Products

One of the biggest benefits of being an MMJ cardholder in Massachusetts is access to medical products and patient-specific pricing.

Recreational consumers pay a higher tax on their dispensary purchases. There is a 6.25% sales tax on recreational sales in addition to a 10.75% state excise tax, plus a possible local tax of up to 3%, depending on the area you’re in. On the other hand, if you are a medical card holder, you’ll pay the price you see listed on the product with no additional taxes at the register.

2. Certifying Health Care Providers Can Advise on Consumption Methods and Doses

Certifying Health Care Providers are specifically certified and trained to advise on using medical marijuana as a treatment option. They can advise you on the best consumption methods (e.g. smoking, vaping, topicals, edibles) for your condition and preferences. They are also equipped to help you find a safe and effective dose.

3. Increased Purchase and Possession Limits

Another benefit to becoming a registered medical patient is increased purchasing and possession limits. Recreational consumers can only purchase up to one ounce at a time, whereas medical patients can purchase up to their recommended limit. This is often a 60-day supply or up to 10 ounces of flower. Your Certifying Health Care Provider may recommend a higher limit if you need it.

4. Increased Growing Limits

Plus, if you want to try your hand at growing your own cannabis, patients can have double the number of plants that recreational consumers can have. While adults 21+ can grow up to six plants as an individual or 12-max as a household, registered patients can have up to 24 plants in total, as long as only 12 are flowering at once.

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Massachusetts: Step-By-Step

Hopefully, understanding the differences between medical and recreational cannabis laws in Massachusetts has helped you decide whether or not you should get your MMJ card. Now let’s look at how you go about getting your card step-by-step.

1. Step One: Find a Certifying Health Care Provider

If you meet the qualifying criteria to get your medical cannabis card in Massachusetts, the next step is to find a Certifying Health Care Provider who is recognized by the state so they can assess your situation and provide a written recommendation.

If your family doctor is open to medical marijuana, they may be able to direct you to a certifying health care provider, or you can find one with a simple Google search. Many of these professionals provide telehealth consultations for added convenience. Read reviews and, whenever possible, look for a physician who has experience treating your specific condition.

Once you have a written recommendation, you’ll receive an email from the state’s Massachusetts Medical Use of Marijuana Program with instructions on completing your registration.

But before you do that, you’ll need to prepare supporting documentation for the application.

2. Step Two: Prepare Supporting Documentation

You’ll need:

  • A valid photo ID that proves residency
  • A photo for your patient ID card

A valid photo ID could include a current Massachusetts driver’s license or a current Massachusetts ID card that includes a photograph of yourself and your address.

You may also use a current U.S. passport or U.S. military ID, but in these cases, you must provide proof of Massachusetts residency. A valid document may be a(n):

  • Utility bill (gas, electric, telephone, cable, or heating oil) less than 60 days old
  • Tuition bill with a due date of less than six months old
  • Car insurance policy or bill that is less than 60 days old
  • Home mortgage, lease, or loan contracts less than six months old
  • Certified U.S. marriage certificate dated within the past six months
  • Property tax or excise tax bill for the current year
  • First-class mail from a federal or state agency less than 60 days old
  • Current state-issued professional license with your address

You’ll also need a passport-style photo of yourself, which is easily obtained from any establishment that offers passport photo services.

3. Step Three: Complete Your Application

Now you can access the email previously sent from the Massachusetts Medical Use of Marijuana Program that should include a PIN to access the online portal where you can complete your application. This is where you’ll be required to provide a valid ID, photo, and (if needed) proof of residency.

Patients can also call to request a hard copy of the application, which can be filled out and returned via mail to the state for processing. However, you should know that it’s much quicker to apply online. The processing time for online applications is up to 10 days, while paper applications can take up to 4 weeks to process.

How Much Does a Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Card Cost?

There are no state registration or renewal fees when applying for your medical card, however, there is a $10 charge for replacement cards if yours is lost or destroyed.

Remember that the cost of visiting a Certifying Health Care Provider is a separate charge billed by the provider. These initial appointments typically cost anywhere from $150-$200, with an additional fee for renewals (which must be done annually). Due to federal regulations, these costs are not generally covered by insurance, though you always double-check with your provider.

When Should You Renew Your Medical Card?

Once approved, a Massachusetts medical marijuana card will need to be renewed annually, while the physical card itself will expire every three years. Previously approved patients (or caregivers) can renew their registration up to 60 days before their current registration is set to expire.

To renew your registration, you will need to have your provider recertify your recommendation if it has expired and ensure that all of your contact information is up to date. You can complete your renewal application through the same online system you used for your initial application.

Choosing the Right Medical Dispensary

Once you’ve been approved for your medical cannabis card, it’s time to plan for your first visit to a dispensary! Choosing the right dispensary for your medical needs can be challenging, especially if you’re new to cannabis in general. The good news is there are plenty of resources to help you find the right fit.

Search Google

The best place to start your search is going to be Google – use Maps to find the medical marijuana dispensaries closest to you.

Read Reviews

Reading reviews is a great way to get a feel for a place before you go. Look for positive ratings and happy customers on Google reviews.

Look for Sales and Rewards

Even if price isn’t your main concern, you’ll want to find a dispensary that offers sales, rewards, or both—especially if you expect you’ll be visiting often. Many dispensaries run sales every day of the week and offer rewards programs that can turn into free products or money off future purchases.

Explore Medical Cannabis in Massachusetts with Mission

With fully stocked medical menus available at our Worcester and Georgetown locations, our team is ready to help you get the very most from your experiences with medical cannabis.

Visit us in person or shop online today, and don’t forget to sign up for our medical rewards program so you can start earning points that will count towards future discounts. We look forward to seeing you!

Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Card FAQ

Can you get a medical marijuana card in Massachusetts?

Yes, any Massachusetts resident who has a qualifying condition can see a Certifying Health Care Provider for an evaluation and a written recommendation. From there, you can apply for a medical card through the Massachusetts Medical Use of Marijuana Program.

What is the limit for medical marijuana in Massachusetts?

Medical patients are allowed to purchase or possess up to a 60-day supply based on your health care provider’s recommendation. This is typically 10 ounces of cannabis, though your health care provider may recommend a different quantity. This purchase limit does not include any harvest from homegrown plants.

Can I buy from a dispensary without a medical card in Massachusetts?

Yes, if you are 21 years of age or older and have a valid government-issued ID, you can buy from dispensaries serving adult-use consumers.