The Massachusetts medical marijuana program is strictly regulated. Patients are not permitted to purchase or possess Cannabis until they have completed the prerequisite requirements of obtaining doctor certification, registering for medical marijuana online, and finally, getting an official Program ID Card. It is critical that patients keep their ID with them at all times, so if your card is lost or gets stolen, you’ll need to replace it immediately.
How Do I Get a Medical Cannabis Card in MA?
There are three basic steps to obtaining a medical Cannabis ID card in Massachusetts:
- Talk to your doctor about medical marijuana.
- If your condition qualifies for Cannabis in Massachusetts, and you’re otherwise deemed a suitable candidate for treatment (meaning the potential benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks), your doctor will supply you with online certification.
- Cannabis is not the most appropriate method of treatment for everyone. However, you shouldn’t feel discouraged or intimidated if your physician is opposed to medical marijuana on a strictly legal or moral basis. As numerous peer-reviewed marijuana medical studies have shown, Cannabis has valid medical applications for many different types of patients. Moreover, Cannabis patients have legal rights.
- As of February, 2015, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is no longer accepting paper certifications. Only online certification is valid.
- Once you’ve gotten certification from your physician, you need to get formally registered in Massachusetts’ patient database. Registration may be completed online or on paper.
- You’ll need your DPH-issued PIN to complete the registration process. You should receive a PIN via email once you’ve been certified by your doctor.
- You won’t be able to find the paper registration form on the internet. You have to call the DPH Support Center at (617) 660-5370 to obtain a copy.
- Yes, formal registration is absolutely mandatory – no exceptions. If you are not registered, you are not protected under state law, period.
- Your application will be reviewed after you finish registration. If you’re approved, you’ll be able to log in to the DPH site and print a temporary card. This approval process takes about 2 weeks. You will then be issued a plastic Medical Use of Marijuana Program ID Card that looks a lot like your driver’s license. That will take another couple of weeks to arrive. Make sure to double-check your address in the registration system so that the card arrives at the correct address.
- There is a $50 annual fee to the state for registration
- You will need to re-register, and pay the $50 fee again, once a year.
If your application is denied for some reason, don’t panic – you may be able to qualify on your second try. Call the DPH Support Center at the phone number listed above for further assistance.
How to Replace a Lost or Stolen Medical Marijuana ID Card
If you lose your card, or if your card gets stolen, damaged, or destroyed, you need to report and replace it as quickly as possible. Call the DPH Support Center right away. Once again, the phone number is (617) 660-5370.
The DPH requires that patients notify the Support Center within five business days of the card being lost or stolen. If you wait more than five days to report a lost, stolen, or damaged program ID card, you may experience processing delays. The sooner you call the DPH, the easier it will be to get the problem resolved efficiently. There is a small $10 fee to replace the card.
If you find your original card after reporting it lost – you guessed it, call the DPH Support Center for instructions.
The DPH representative you speak to should be able to give you a rough estimate of when your replacement card is expected to arrive in the mail. If your card doesn’t arrive within the expected time frame, notify the Support Center.
Just to reiterate once more – we cannot overstate the importance of keeping your medical marijuana card on your person at all times. Even though medical marijuana has been legalized in Massachusetts, you still need to have appropriate ID with you! Think of it this way: driving is legal, but you still need a driver’s license. The medical marijuana program is no different.
Moreover, on the slim chance that you are ever stopped by law enforcement, your card is your strongest line of defense against being brought into custody. While police officers are highly unlikely to apprehend you – and most departments are advising their officers to refrain from arresting registered card-holders carrying proper ID – it is always best to err on the side of caution. Carrying your ID card will never hurt you, but it might help you if you run into any legal hassles.
Medical marijuana has helped countless patients manage their symptoms and enjoy a greater degree of physical comfort in their everyday lives. Is medical Cannabis right for you? Call Dr. Tishler at (617) 477-8886 to start discussing your medical needs in a confidential consultation.