As the state looks ahead to adult–use, or recreational sales, INSA has received a lot of questions from concerned patients and interested individuals trying to make an informed decision. They want to know what’s going to happen to the existing Massachusetts Medical Use of Marijuana (MMJ) Program. With legal recreational sales on the way, is the Massachusetts MMJ Program still necessary? Is it beneficial to remain a MMJ Patient?
The answer is… Yes!
The fact is, the Massachusetts MMJ Program is and will continue to be a very necessary piece in ensuring Massachusetts’ patients are given the best possible access to the treatments that work for them. The designers of the program have taken special care to furnish the medical program with its own exclusive features and benefits that recreational customers will not have access to.
Reason #1: Save 20%
If you’re a medical cannabis patient in Massachusetts, you’re probably thinking, “Why should I bother paying money upfront to renew my card, when I can just go into a recreational cannabis shop for free?” Well, if you’re like most patients, you’ll probably end up spending more than $1,200 a year at a medical cannabis dispensary, such as INSA Springfield or INSA Easthampton.
Why is that $1,200 number so important?
Well, considering a state tax rate of 17%, and assuming local municipalities will take advantage of the opportunity to charge a 3% rate, we’re looking at a 20% total tax rate on recreational cannabis. Medical patients do not pay any tax.
It can cost you about $200 to see a certifying doctor, and another $50 to register with the State. That’s $250. Which means if you spend over $1200 a year (or just $100 a month), having a medical card will pay for itself.
Reason #2: No Dose Potency Limits on Medical Edibles
Did you know that one of the most drastic differences between medical and adult-use cannabis will be in edible dosing restrictions? As it stands, medical edibles do not have a limit on the amount of THC allowed per dose. Recreational adult-use edibles will be capped at five milligrams per dose or serving.
These restrictions are not meant to punish recreational consumers or reward patients. Simply, the rule is in place as a safeguard for the general public. Similar regulations can be found in California, Washington, Nevada, and Colorado where cannabis edibles meant for recreational consumption are capped at one hundred milligrams a piece. Of course, with a cap at a mere five milligrams per dose, Massachusetts takes this a step further.
Reason #3: Home Delivery
Right now, medical cannabis patients in Massachusetts are allowed to have their cannabis delivered to them, provided there are services available. These services will eventually extend to recreational consumers – but not until summer, 2019 at the very earliest. So, if you’re interested in getting your cannabis brought directly to your door, a medical card will be the only way to make that happen for the foreseeable future. Ask an INSA team member about when home delivery will be available.
Reason #4: Reserved Stock
While recreational, adult-use cannabis will be offered strictly on a first-come, first-served basis, medical patients can be assured that a percentage of the dispensaries’ stock will be set aside for them. This is to ensure that those who have spent the money and time to maintain their Massachusetts MMJ registrations are taken care of in receiving medicine that is necessary for them.
Does this mean that I’m guaranteed to get exactly what I came in for?
Not necessarily, no. Just as there is no way currently for dispensaries to guarantee the availability of a specific product, this reservation of product for medical card holders will not provide any guarantees of particular products either. There are many issues that can arise when working with plants. (They like to grow at their own pace!)
Reason #5: Purchasing Limits
Massachusetts MMJ regulations stipulate that adult-use cannabis consumers will be allowed to purchase up to one ounce per visit, while medical patients will be allowed up to ten ounces at a time, provided the amount purchased fits within their 60-day allotment.
Among all of this seeming uncertainty, one thing stands for sure - these are very exciting times in the world of legal cannabis here in Massachusetts. As we move forward, it’s important - whether you’re a patient or an adult-use consumer - to surround yourself with as much information as you can. The fact of the matter is, with such a new industry, change is the name of the game. Here at INSA, we will continue to grow and adapt to consistently meet and exceed the needs and expectations of our patients. We’ll always be keeping an ear open to those questions and concerns, and will always do our best to ensure that our patients have access to safe, reliable medicine, in a comfortable, welcoming environment. Here at INSA, serving the Massachusetts medical cannabis community is nothing short of a labor of love. We look forward to seeing you soon.