The Massachusetts Department of Health has presented to the Public Health Council new suggested rules that would overhaul the state's medical cannabis law to make it easier for patients and those wanting to become patients. The new rules will go through a public comment period this fall before being voted on by the Public Health Council, which is an appointed board of physicians, consumer advocates and educational professionals.
Under the proposed rules, nurse practitioners would be legally qualified to recommend medical cannabis to patients, whereas under current law this authority is exclusive to physicians. If the change becomes official, Massachusetts would join Vermont, Maryland, Minnesota, Washington and New Hampshire as states that allow nurses to recommend medical cannabis.
The new rules would also allow dispensaries to post prices online - something currently prohibited - which would allow patients to more easily compare prices.
The Health Department also proposed allowing dispensaries to deliver to nursing homes and other health facilities where the patient may have a hard time traveling.
"Our goal is safety, transparency, and access for patients who need this," says Dr. Monica Bharel, commissioner of the Health Department. "This is an evolving process, both in Massachusetts and nationally."
According to data released by the state, there are roughly 35,000 registered medical cannabis patients in Massachusetts, being served by seven currently operating dispensaries (with a few more on the way).