Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission to Increase Patient Access to Medical Marijuana

Written by: Susie Peterson – Daily Marijuana Observer

In a major victory for patients in Massachusetts, the Commonwealth’s Cannabis Control Commission announced that the new Initial Access Certification program will become available to qualifying patients and their personal caregivers starting on Monday, July 1st.

With the help of a clinician, the new process will enable immediate entry to a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center, often referred to as a Registered Marijuana Dispensary, and allow patients to obtain medical-use marijuana prior to being issued an annual registration card.

“Since the Commission assumed oversight of the Medical Use of Marijuana Program six months ago, our focus has been on maintaining continuous, high-quality care for qualifying patients,” Commission Chairman Steven J. Hoffman said. “I am pleased the new Initial Access Certification process will address enduring concerns about administrative wait times while also enhancing patient and caregiver experience.”

How Does the Initial Access Certification Program Work?

Patients and caregivers who utilize Initial Access Certification will be permitted to enter a medical marijuana dispensary as soon as they receive a temporary registration document from the Commission.

Once registered, Initial Access Certification will allow patients to be dispensed a limited, 14-day supply of medical-use marijuana, which the Commission has determined is 2.5 ounces, for two weeks.

The patient’s clinician – who may include a certifying physician, a certifying certified nurse practitioner, or a certifying physician assistant who is registered in the program – may determine and certify a patient requires a different amount.

Those who receive Initial Access Certification will still need to complete the traditional registration process through the Commission’s Online System in order to be issued an annual patient registration card.

The temporary registration will expire either 14 days after issuance or when the recipient is approved for an annual registration card from the Commission. Patients and caregivers must remain in compliance with the medical use of marijuana regulations in order to receive an annual registration card.

Conclusion

To be clear, patients and caregivers will be limited to one temporary registration during any 365-day period unless otherwise approved by the Commission.

Regardless, this new system is expected to increase enrollment in the Massachusetts medical marijuana program substantially from the 59,288 actively enrolled patients as of May 31st. Despite the recreational marijuana market operating in parallel, Massachusetts’ population of over 6 million people indicates that the state’s medical marijuana program is still in its infancy.