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Board of Health

The Boston Public Health Commission has a governing board of seven members. The Boston Public Health Act of 1995 set the following guidelines for the governing board of the Commission:

  • The Mayor of Boston appoints six members subject to city council's approval. The seventh member is the chief executive officer of Boston Medical Center and serves ex-officio.
  • Of the six members appointed by the Mayor:
    • Two members must be trustees, officers, or medical directors of neighborhood health centers affiliated with Boston Medical Center.
    • The Mayor appoints one member from a list of at least three nominees recommended by a nominating committee. The committee is made of representatives of organized labor appointed by the mayor.

The Mayor appoints the Chairperson of the Commission. 

  • The six appointed members serve staggered three year terms.



On January 16, 2019, the Boston Board of Health adopted amendments to Boston's Biological Laboratory Regulations that:

  • Rescind the Recombinant DNA (rDNA) Use and Technology Regulation
  • Remove the prohibition on rDNA research on BSL-4 agents under the condition that any rDNA project undergo the rigorous approval process for BSL-4 projects
  • Incorporate regulation of the use of rDNA into the Biological Lab Regulation
  • Formalize requirements that each individual BSL-4 research project undergo review by the Boston Biosafety Committee before receiving approval by BPHC
  • Revise definitions and citations to align with updated national guidance documents.

Find board meeting materials here.

Current Regulations

​In November 2012, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot question legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The law allows individuals who are certified by their physician as having a debilitating medical condition to use and possess up to a 60-day supply of medical marijuana. A debilitating medical condition is further defined as "HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, Hepatitis C, ALS, Crohn's Disease, Parkinson's, MS and other conditions as determined by a physician." A 60-day supply has been determined by state regulation to be 10 ounces.  ​

To register, a patient must obtain a letter from his/her physician and submit an application to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. More details on the patient registration process are available here. Patients may designate a caregiver to help them use medical marijuana. Caregivers must be 21 years old and may buy, grow and assist patients in using medical marijuana. 

The law allows medical marijuana to be sold through Registered Marijuana Dispensaries (RMDs), which are also under the purview of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH). The maximum allowed by law at this time is 35, with a maximum of 5 in each county.  On June 27, 2014, MDPH announced the 11 RMD applicants that completed Phases 1 and 2 and the Verification Phase and will advance to the Inspection Phase. In addition, five applicants were deemed eligible to apply for RMDs in counties that don't currently have a dispensary.

Once approved by the state, RMDs in Boston will need to go through a local permitting process. In addition to zoning relief and building permits, RMDs will need to apply for a permit from the Environmental Health Office at BPHC.  

If you are looking for resources or support around marijuana or other substance use, please call 311. 

On November 25, 2019 the Boston Board of Health adopted amendments to Boston's tobacco control regulations. These amendments include provisions to include mint, menthol, and wintergreen flavored tobacco and nicotine products to the existing flavored tobacco sales restrictions as well as expand identification checking to customers of all ages.

Commission Info

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