Recommending Cannabis in Massachusetts

Medical professionals recommending medical cannabis must have an active full license, with no prescribing restriction, to practice medicine in Massachusetts and a Massachusetts Controlled Substances Registration. Physicians must become a certifying physician through applying once through the Department of Public Health (DPH). A written certification shall be issued in a form and manner determined by DPH. 

A certifying physician issuing a written certification must complete a minimum of 2.0 Category 1 continuing professional development credits as defined in 243 CMR 2.06(6)(a)1. A certifying physician issuing a written certification shall comply with generally accepted standards of medical practice, including regulations of the Board of Registration in Medicine at 243 CMR 1.00, 2.00, and 3.00.

A certifying physician may not delegate to any other health care professional or any other person, authority to diagnose a patient as having a debilitating medical condition. A certifying physician may issue a written certification only for a qualifying patient with whom the physician has a bona fide physician-patient relationship.  Before issuing a written certification, a certifying physician must utilize the Massachusetts Prescription Monitoring Program, unless otherwise specified by the Department, to review the qualifying patient’s prescription history.

A certifying physician may determine and certify that a qualifying patient requires an amount of marijuana exceeding 10 ounces as a 60-day supply and shall document the amount and the rationale in the medical record and in the written certification. For that qualifying patient, that amount of marijuana constitutes a 60-day supply.

A qualifying patient who is under 18 years of age and has been diagnosed by two Massachusetts licensed certifying physicians, at least one of whom is a board-certified pediatrician or a board-certified pediatric subspecialist, with a debilitating life-limiting illness, may receive a written certification, provided however that the physicians may certify a qualifying patient who is under 18 years of age who has a debilitating medical condition that is not a life-limiting illness if those physicians determine that the benefits of the medical use of marijuana outweigh the risks. This must include a discussion of the potential negative impacts on neurological development with the parent or legal guardian of the qualifying patient, written consent of the parent or legal guardian, and documentation of the rationale in the medical record and the written certification.

Qualifying conditions include: 

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus
  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (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

More Information

Additional Physician Guidance from DPH

Physicians seeking more information can seek advisement from DPH's Guidance for Physicians Regarding the Medical Use of Marijuana (Revised – June 9, 2015).