Massachusetts extends medical cannabis telehealth sign-ups

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Massachusetts health-care providers may continue registering new medical cannabis patients via telehealth appointments instead of in-person visits, state regulators announced, citing the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

The state initially allowed expanded telehealth services, including clinical visits for new medical marijuana certifications, last March as a result of the pandemic and will extend the services, according to a bulletin posted Tuesday by the Cannabis Control Commission.

As long as an emergency order from Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker remains in place, the new bulletin stipulated, the in-person requirement will continue to be waived for “patients who wish to register for the first time with the (medical marijuana) program in Massachusetts.

“Clinical visits, including for renewal, are permitted through telehealth means.”

Massachusetts health-care providers must still ensure they can deliver telehealth services with the same standard of care and must comply with other requirements such as verifying a patient’s identity and ensuring confidentiality.

A special waiver is required to conduct telehealth clinical visits.

“Patients who secured their initial registration without an in-person clinical visit are encouraged to complete one when the State of Emergency is no longer in place or when the circumstances of the clinical visit do not pose a threat to the patient’s or provider’s health, safety, or welfare,” the CCC bulletin notes.

The telehealth extension could bolster a Massachusetts medical marijuana market that recently passed 100,000 MMJ patient registrations.