Massachusetts health officials have put forth a proposal that, if accepted, would allow nurse practitioners to recommend medical cannabis to those with a qualifying condition who may benefit from the medicine. Currently that authority is exclusive to physicians.
According to the Associated Press, public hearings on the proposed rule change have been scheduled for Tuesday in Boston and on Thursday in Holyoke.
Under the proposed rules, nurse practitioners would be allowed to recommend medical cannabis to adult patients the same as physicians; however, minors would still need to get a recommendation from an actual physician, not a nurse practitioner.
The proposed change to the state's medical cannabis program comes just days after portions of Question 4 took effect, legalizing the possess, use and personal cultivation of cannabis for those 21 and older.
Although cannabis has been legalized for recreational purposes, the new law doesn't interfere with the state's medical cannabis law. Question 4 legalized cannabis retail outlets, but medical cannabis dispensaries will continue to operate in the state simultaneously with these outlets.
The recreational retail outlets were expected to be open in January, but Charlie Baker a few days ago signed legislation that delays the opening of these outlets by six months; the law was passed through the legislature without public input, and with a large portion of the body not in attendance.
In November, New York's Health Department announced that they would be allowing nurse practitioners to recommend medical cannabis; however, unlike the recently proposed changes by Massachusetts officials, New York's change also allows physician assistants to recommend the plant.