Certifying Healthcare Providers / Diagnosing and Certifying Patients
Diagnosing and Certifying Patients
Learn requirements and instructions for diagnosing and certifying Qualifying Patients in the Massachusetts Medical Use of Marijuana Program.
A Massachusetts resident 18 years of age or older who has been diagnosed by a Certifying Healthcare Provider as having a debilitating medical condition may become a Qualifying Patient.
Massachusetts residents under the age of 18 may qualify under limited circumstances. Two Massachusetts-licensed Certifying Healthcare Providers—one of whom is a board-certified pediatrician or board-certified pediatric subspecialist—must diagnose the underage Qualifying Patient as having a debilitating life-limiting illness.
A debilitating life-limiting illness is defined as a condition that does not respond to curative treatments, where reasonable estimates of prognosis suggests death may occur within two years. If the debilitating medical condition is not life-limiting, both physicians must determine that the benefits of the medical use of marijuana outweigh the risks.
Certifying Healthcare Providers must discuss the potential negative impacts on neurological development with the parent or legal guardian of the Qualifying Patient—and the parent or legal guardian must provide written consent.
The Certifying Healthcare Provider must document the rationale to prescribe medical marijuana in both the Qualifying Patient’s medical record and certifying document.
Debilitating Medical Conditions
A debilitating medical condition is one that causes weakness, cachexia, wasting syndrome, intractable pain, or nausea, to the extent that it substantially limits major life activities.
Qualifying medical conditions include:
- Hepatitis C
- Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Other debilitating conditions as determined in writing by a certified physician
If a patient has been diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition in the past, but does not have an active condition (unless the symptoms related to such condition are mitigated by the medical use of marijuana), and is not undergoing treatment for such a condition, the patient is no longer considered to be suffering from a debilitating medical condition.
Certifying a Patient
A Qualifying Patient certification is an electronic document executed by the Certifying Healthcare Provider in the Medical Use of Marijuana Program Online System.
The certification states—in the physician’s professional opinion—that the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana likely outweigh the health risks for the Qualifying Patient.
The certification must specify the Qualifying Patient’s debilitating medical condition and must indicate the time period of certification—not less than 15 calendar days, and not longer than one year.
- Log on to https://provider.massciportal.com.
- Select ‘Certify’ (in upper right hand corner).
- Enter the Qualifying Patient’s first and last name, date of birth, and last four digits of Social Security Number. If the Qualifying Patient already exists in the system, the personal information will appear.
- Enter the Certifying Duration. Intervals can be 15 days, 60 days, 90 days, 180 days, 210 days, or 365 days.
- Enter Certification Date. The system will automatically calculate the Certification Start and Expiration dates. The System will auto populate the Maximum Quantity for 60 days (10.0 ounces/283.5 Grams). The Provider has the option to override Maximum Quantity in a 60 day period.
- Provider Agrees to Attestation:
- This is a Qualifying Patient with whom I have a bona fide healthcare provider-patient relationship.
- I have had a clinical visit with this Qualifying Patient and completed a thorough assessment before submitting this certification.
- I have reviewed the Massachusetts Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) to assess the Qualifying Patient’s prescription history and to coordinate the Qualifying Patient’s care at the time of his/her clinic visit.
- As part of my clinical assessment of the Qualifying Patient, I have reviewed the risks of using marijuana for medical reasons with my Qualifying Patient and provided the Qualifying Patient with educational information.
- I certify that this Qualifying Patient is currently suffering from the active debilitating medical condition as stated above and in my professional opinion, the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the Qualifying Patient.
- If the debilitating medical condition is not life-limiting, I certify that I have determined that the benefits of the medical use of marijuana outweigh the risks, I have discussed the potential negative impacts on neurological development with the parent or legal guardian of the Qualifying Patient, and I have secured the written consent of the parent or legal guardian and documented the rationale in the Qualifying Patient’s medical record and in this certification.
COVID-19 Waiver Request and Telehealth Renewals
In general, Certifying Healthcare Providers must conduct an initial, in-person Clinical Visit with Qualifying Patients to issue an initial Certificate of Registration per 935 Code Mass. Regs. §§ 501.002 and 501.010.
However, the Commission is currently considering waivers to this requirement. Learn more in this bulletin: “Reissued Order Allowing for Telehealth Consultations for Patients.”
The waiver is available at: https://masscannabiscontrol.com/public-documents/forms-templates/.
Initial Access allows new Qualifying Patients or their Caregivers to purchase medical-use cannabis while their registration card is being processed. Qualifying Patients may receive a 14-day supply—determined to be 2.5 oz of cannabis—although a Certifying Healthcare Provider may determine a different 14-day supply.
While Initial Access was designed for new Qualifying Patients and Caregivers to have immediate access to a Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MTC), a provider may also grant Renewing Patients a 14-day temporary registration card.
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