Did medical cannabis become legal in your state recently? If you’re interested in getting your medical marijuana card, you will find a step-by-step guide to getting approved below. While every state has its own medical marijuana guidelines, getting your card is usually a straightforward process. Here’s a guide on what to expect.
1. Start by talking to your regular doctor
To qualify for medical marijuana in most states, you need to have a qualifying condition. Since qualifying conditions vary from state to state, you should double check the list of accepted qualifying conditions in your state before making an appointment. You can usually find all this info on marijuanapatientcard.com or your state’s health department website. If you already have a condition that can be managed with medical marijuana, you should first talk to your primary care provider to ensure that medicating with cannabis will be right for you.
Most primary care doctors aren’t able to certify medical marijuana cards, but you should still check with them first. They’ll be able to talk with you about possible interactions from medications you’re already taking and help you figure out which methods might work best for you. In some cases, you will need documentation from your primary care physician, such as x-rays, MRI results, or doctor’s notes to secure a medical card from a certifiable doctor.
2. Schedule an appointment with a doctor who can certify your medical marijuana card
In most states, only certain doctors are able to register and certify a marijuana card. Check with your state’s health department and pick a doctor from their list of licensed physicians. You can also use websites like Marijuana Patient Card to find medical marijuana doctors in your area. If you prefer a virtual appointment, you can connect with doctors using virtual consultation services like NuggMD or Veriheal. Once you find a doctor, you can schedule an appointment with them.
Before you schedule an appointment, make sure you have a qualifying condition and documentation to back it up. You will be denied of a medical card if you walk into the appointment telling the doctor you just want to get high. Medical cards aren’t given out freely, so you will need to prove that you can genuinely benefit from medical weed.
3. Come up with a treatment plan with your new doctor
When you meet with your cannabis doctor, you’ll discuss your symptoms and make sure you have a qualifying condition. They may require more information and reach out to your primary doctor for additional documentation. From there, you’ll talk with your doctor and figure out how to use cannabis for the management of your unique symptoms.
You will start by discussing your health conditions, medications you might currently be taking, and any questions or concerns you may have about using cannabis as medicine. Your doctor will also let you know about any potential side effects you might experience. We recommend asking lots of questions. The point of the meeting is to both get a recommendation for cannabis, but also to help you better understand which cannabis products will be best for your specific needs.
4. Some states will require you to register with the health department
Many states will require you to sign up and join the state’s medical marijuana patient registry. In most places, you will need to go through this process before you can use yourt medical card. It will ask for personal information, such as your legal name and birth date, as well as your social security number and the information your doctor submitted for the recommendation. It’s a bureaucratic step, but if this is an issue in your state, your doctor will walk you through the process. Once you’re registered, they’ll mail you a physical card or allow you to print a copy at home.
5. Wait for your medical card to arrive and then go shopping
You’ll usually have to wait a few weeks for your physical medical marijuana card to bet delivered. However, you may be able to use a temporary medical card issued for print when the health department approves your recommendation. In most places, you’ll have access to your temporary card in a week.
Once you have your temporary or permanent card, you can use it to shop at licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in your state. You will need to bring cash, your medical card, and your ID to get inside. But once you have it, you’ll be able to purchase and use marijuana for medical reasons. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the possession limits in your state. NORML is a good resource, but so is your state’s health department website.
When shopping at a dispensary, be sure to ask questions. Your budtenders are there to help you figure out which products are right for you. If you have cannabis pharmacists at your dispensary, they’ll be able to go more in depth with you about how cannabis will affect or interact with the medications you’re currently taking.
6. Follow up and ask questions
Medical cannabis may not be right for you. Cannabinoids affect everyone differently, so even qualified doctors and pharmacists may not be able to give you specific effects. Some people are even allergic to weed. So keep in mind that the ideal medical cannabis plan might take some trial and error.
If you’re having trouble with specific products, or having trouble getting your medical recommendation approved, get in touch with your doctor. You should also check in with your doctor every three months or so to touch base on how cannabis is working for your symptoms so you can readjust your treatment plan if necessary.
7. Some states will require you to renew your registration every year
Once your registration is approved, it’s usually valid for one year in most states. You will need to go through the registration process again every year to maintain access to medical marijuana. Renewing is a lot like registering. You will need to meet with your doctors and get your registration re-approved and submitted to the state’s health department. It’s a good idea to begin this process about a month before your registration is set to expire. That way you’re able to secure your new registration without having to go without.
At the end of the day, getting and renewing a medical marijuana card is a pretty easy process. Just make sure you have a qualifying condition and follow all of the rules and regulations in your state for best results, and don’t walk into your appointments with the sole intention of getting high.
What are the most common medical marijuana qualifying conditions?
The medical conditions that qualify for medical marijuana vary by state, with some highly restrictive and others allowing medical marijuana in any case where a doctors feels the patient would benefit. In general, states that allow medical marijuana allow it for treatment of:
- HIV and AIDS
- Crohn’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Epilepsy and seizures
- Chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Parkinson’s disease