With hours-long lines reported at the opening of the state’s first two recreational marijuana dispensaries, it may seem that the state’s medical marijuana industry is about to go the way of the dodo — or at least metal pipes. Though there are a number of challenges and possible upheavals ahead for the state’s medical cannabis industry, this is not the time to space on renewing your medical marijuana card. Here are a few reasons why.
5 reasons why you should keep your medical marijuana card in Mass.
Medical customers can score big saving
The price-conscious among us might balk at springing for the $100 to $200 in annual fees required to maintain patient status. But consider this: although recreational purchases in Massachusetts will be taxed at a rate of 17 to 20 percent (depending on local regulations), medical marijuana purchases are completely tax free. That means, depending on how much you chief, you’d make up that annual registration fee cost in a matter of months, while allowing you to reap the discount benefits for the rest of the year.
State law also calls for medical dispensaries to provide “financial hardship” and other discounts to patients who need them. Caregivers throughout the state offer anywhere from an additional 10 to 25 percent off for certain customers, including whether they meet a certain poverty threshold, receive certain kinds of government assistance, are terminally ill, veterans or seniors. If you qualify for the most generous of these programs, you could be paying over $100 less for an ounce.
A VIP line
The state’s two recreational marijuana dispensaries — Leicester’s Cultivate Holdings and Northampton’s New England Treatment Access — are actually hybrid models, servicing both medical and recreational customers. State law requires that these kinds of outfits maintain two customer lines — separated by a physical divider — so medical patients can get extra time to consult with experts about their individual care needs. Of course, you’re totally free to pick up your medicine in the recreational line too, if you so choose.
No limits on edibles
The recreational marijuana market is saturated with all kinds of extremely potent edibles, with some containing over 1,000 or 1,500 mg of THC. If you’re new to weed or edibles, I’d recommend steering clear of these bad boys for a while. Recreational customers on the hunt for that kind of heroic dosage in Massachusetts might be disappointed, though: State law restricts edibles to products with a total of 100mg of THC, with clearly delineated portions of 5mg each. Medical patients, on the other hand, face no such restrictions, with access to all kinds of potent edibles. Just always, always be careful to start low when you’re starting out, and remember it can take a few hours for the full effects to kick in. You don’t wanna end up like this guy.
If you really hate lines, medical marijuana users have one last time-saving benefit in their arsenal: door-to-door service. Medical dispensaries throughout the state offer delivery services to qualified patients, unlike recreational providers who are prohibited from doing so. Just make sure you tip him and the pizza guy.
More access — at least for now
Right now, the state has over 30 medical marijuana dispensaries (with about a dozen in the Greater Boston area alone) with only two recreational providers, the closest being over an hour’s drive from the city. While more recreational operations are expected to open in 2019, I’d expect this ratio to stay high for at least a couple more years.