Benefits of Having a Medical Marijuana Card in Massachusetts (and How to Apply)
In April 2020, after the Massachusetts lockdown, there was a reported 14% increase in medical marijuana card applications. Medical dispensaries were deemed essential, while recreational shops were not. With COVID still booming, health conditions exacerbating, and stress levels shooting still through the roof, it’s no surprise that more people are turning to cannabis treatments.
Since California paved the way in 1996, the health benefits of cannabis have been captivating people and encouraging (finally!) heavy adoption of medical and recreational use of this alternative plant medicine. Medical marijuana is now legal in 35+ states — including Massachusetts — and that means more and more people wanting to apply for and understand the benefits of having a medical marijuana card.
“I can tell you from personal experience that cannabis has been a lifesaver,” says nurse Lisa Napert LPN, ACNA. Lisa experienced first-hand how cannabis helped her family members survive and thrive —from her father, who she helped apply for a medical marijuana card, to her son, who was in and out of hospitals for years.
Then, a few years later, Lisa started to develop her own health issues — migraines, chronic pain, PTSD — before being diagnosed with double breast cancer in 2016.
Enter that magical salve: medical marijuana.
“I obtained an MMJ card to get access to quality cannabis medicine,” she says. “I learned that the quality is much different, even between recreational and medical grades, that medical cannabis comes in many different forms, and that as an MMJ patient, I could grow my own medicine to care for myself at a more reasonable out-of-pocket cost.”
“Whether you are visiting a dispensary for medical or recreational use, a medical marijuana card will provide you with extra benefits,” says nurse Jodi Chapin, president of Green Network Providers. “As a cannabis nurse, advocate, and patient, I highly recommend researching if alternative plant medicine treatment is right for you.”
6 advantages of applying for a medical marijuana card
Like Lisa, many patients are seeking natural solutions to their chronic health conditions and with the rise of medical marijuana treatment, more people are turning to cannabis to treat serious and chronic medical conditions, improve their mental health, and manage anxiety and insomnia.
There are various advantages of having a medical cannabis card and being a certified medical marijuana patient. If you are planning to obtain your marijuana card, you will be able to enjoy these benefits:
1. Lower your costs (and pay no taxes!)
Because cannabis is also used for recreational purposes, it’s very costly and taxed heavily by recreational dispensaries. But many states, including Massachusetts, waive the tax for medical patients. A medical cannabis card allows recreational users to access medical dispensaries where they can purchase products at affordable rates while saving 20% to 30% tax fees.
Massachusetts' state law also calls for medical dispensaries to offer additional discounts and provide “financial hardship” allowances to the patients who qualify. Many dispensaries also offer first-time credits and promo cards to offset the application fee.
This is one of the benefits of getting your card with Green Network Providers, as we can help you access the most affordable medicine. Visit one of the many Massachusetts' dispensaries and inquire about their discounts and hardship programs. When you work with an educated group like those of us at Green Network Providers, we can hold your hand through the process, until you are comfortable navigating on your own.
2. Receive legal protection
While cannabis is legal in Massachusetts, there are still some restrictions on the use and possession of medical marijuana. If you are using medical marijuana without a card, it can get you in trouble regardless of whether you are using it to treat a health condition.
Penalties for the possession of illegal amounts of marijuana can lead to imprisonment and fines. In some cases, your employer MAY allow you to have cannabis in your system as an alternative to prescription drugs. If you are a medical marijuana cardholder, you can enjoy your flower or edibles with more peace of mind.
Massachusetts cardholders have a default recommendation that allows for patients to have up to 10 ounces of cannabis in their possession or a 2 month supply. This includes all THC products whether you use flower, concentrates or edibles. This amount can be negotiated — if you have a legit medical reason to use more, your NP can petition your case to the state.
3. Grow your own, or sign up with a caregiver
In Massachusetts, we are legally allowed to grow 6 plants per adult per household. However, this isn’t nearly enough for a person needing fully extracted cannabis oil or high-dose edibles.
If you lack the resources, caregivers approved by the state can grow and cater for up to 5 MMJ patients. You, as a patient, then register the caregiver with the state for them to grow specialized and personalized medicine based on your needs. This allows caregivers to work with your preferences and diagnoses and give you a more compassionate pricing and private experience.
Caregivers are generally compassionate people that make it their core mission to help patients in need. Due to the way the caregiver laws are written, a caregiver is only allowed to charge the patient the cost of what it takes to grow their medicine. For many patients, including financial hardship patients, this is the most cost-effective source of tailored and personalized medical cannabis.
4. Get high-quality, lab-tested products & accurate labeling
We’ve all had a bum batch of weak doses. Not at a medical dispensary though! Products from medical dispensaries are thoroughly lab tested to ensure potency. Having a medical marijuana card allows you to purchase products from a state-licensed dispensary.
“Many patients are visiting dispensaries looking to find products to specifically treat a condition,” says 420RN Jodi. “While many budtenders are very knowledgeable on product guidance, most are unable to answer all your medical inquiries or provide solid suggestions due to compliance issues. Cannabis affects everyone differently and there may be some potential drug interactions and unexpected effects. It is always best to speak to a medical professional that has expansive cannabis knowledge for recommendations.”
5. Access to higher doses
In Massachusetts, recreational cannabis users have purchase limits and don’t have access to higher milligram flower, edibles, and other products. Medical patients do! There are no restrictions for medical patients and you will have access to greater quantities and higher dose options, which is very important for certain diagnoses. Conditions that have been shown to benefit from MMJ use include:
Spinal cord injury or disease
6. Receive home delivery
Don’t want to stand in line? Can’t physically get to the dispensary? Too sick on the day you need it the most? COVID got you on lockdown? Good news: your medical marijuana card also gives you access to home delivery services.
In September 2019, the Cannabis Control Commission authorized the home delivery of recreational cannabis in Massachusetts. Some dispensaries offer same-day delivery to those registered with Massachusetts’ medical marijuana program. Patients may order from a variety of cannabis products such as flowers, edibles, oils, and more. Orders may require a minimum purchase or a delivery fee. Check your favorite dispensary to see if they deliver or hook up with a Door Dash-like service such as Lantern.
How do I get a medical cannabis card in Massachusetts?
If you live in Massachusetts, you can apply for an MMJ card on your own or work with a trusted health provider organization like ours!
Green Network Providers is a non-profit organization with many years of medicinal cannabis experience and a team of nurses, NPs, wellness coaches, and other healthcare providers who will guide you on how to apply for a medical marijuana card and all the added benefits of being an MMJ patient.
In addition to nurses, there are experienced advocates available for your patient support and education. We can help your medical cannabis card application in Massachusetts, New York, and Maine, and we offer private cannabis consultations on the safe utilization of cannabinoids for symptom management. When we meet with you, we educate you on how to treat your specific health conditions with medical marijuana, and which intake methods and strains might work best for you.
Getting your MMJ card: Step by Step
Applying for your medical marijuana card in Massachusetts is easy. A few things to note before you get started, you must:
Have a qualifying chronic health condition (Section 2(C), the Act for the Humanitarian Medical Use of Marijuana defines the term “debilitating medical condition”)
Have a valid Massachusetts ID and proof of residency, which matches the address on your ID
Have access to a computer to upload documents to the state portal for registration
The MMJ Application Process in Massachusetts: Step by Step
Get your recommendation from a qualified provider (hey, that’s us!)
Fill out the intake paperwork and disclosure form
You will receive a call or email from your N.P. for scheduling
30 min call with for education (first-time cardholder) and online registration information (this may be same day or shortly after, depending on scheduling)
A temporary card will be available that day and will be emailed to print
Email was sent that day with information on how to register with the state to get a permanent card
If approved, you’ll get a temporary card via email and your medical marijuana card will come in the mail within a couple of weeks.
Want to connect with a GNP Cannabis professional?
There are so many advantages to being a medical cannabis cardholder and working with an expert nurse on your application. From figuring dosage to access and affordability to caregiver referrals, you will find plenty of support with Green Network Provider for ongoing care and understanding the legal aspects of cannabis.
To start this process with Green Network Providers, kindly fill out our contact form and someone will be in touch with you within 48 hours by phone. You can get your medical cannabis card from one of our certified nurse practitioners in person or as a tele-med consultation over the phone. We also have the option of continued guidance through your cannabis journey.
“As nurses and patient activists, we believe that vulnerability is to be met with compassion, respect, and active listening to ensure that patients have the very best outcomes,” says Jodi Chapin. “We have specialists in our network that can relate to the issues you are dealing with, as most of us are patients ourselves! We are an all-inclusive group that works to destigmatize plant medicine options for medical applications.”