Medical marijuana is much more widely available than legal adult-use marijuana. At last tally, a total of 33 states allow registered users to acquire and partake of medical marijuana products from licensed medical marijuana dispensaries; in contrast, only 11 states, plus Washington D.C., permit recreational use. As a result, in many states across the Midwest and in the South, having a medical marijuana card is the only way to legally enjoy the good green herb.
Fortunately, it isn’t terribly difficult to get a medical marijuana license of your very own. Though the particular hoops will vary from state to state, here is a quick guide to getting your medical marijuana card and taking full legal advantage of the marijuana laws in your state.
Obtain a Qualifying Diagnosis
Legally, we must tell you that you can only obtain a medical marijuana card if you suffer from some disease or disability that qualifies you for marijuana treatment. However, qualifying conditions are both more common and vaguer than you might expect, so the likelihood of you having a condition on your state’s list is high. For example, it is common to see a condition like “any chronic or debilitating condition,” which could be frequent headaches, digestive trouble, difficulty sleeping or something similarly quite benign. In contrast, if you do suffer from a serious condition, like epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV or cancer, you shouldn’t hesitate to use your disease to acquire a medical marijuana card.
Some states, like Oklahoma, don’t maintain lists of qualifying diagnoses; instead, they allow doctors to determine what conditions are appropriate for medical marijuana cards, which gives almost anyone the opportunity to make their case for medical marijuana access.
Receive a Marijuana Recommendation
Either in the same doctor’s appointment where you are diagnosed with your qualifying condition or during a subsequent visit to a healthcare provider, you need to acquire a recommendation for a marijuana card. Technically, this isn’t a prescription because marijuana treatments are not the same as pharmaceuticals; this is a suggestion by your doctor that your condition could become more manageable thanks to marijuana products.
Every state requires this from medical license applicants, but different states require different kinds of recommendations. Some demand that you see a doctor in-person, undergo a bevy of tests and have no other medical course of action besides marijuana. Fortunately, most states allow a much easier method, perhaps even permitting a telehealth appointment over the web.
Apply for Medical Marijuana Access
Once you have your recommendation, you can fill out an application for your marijuana card. Some states require doctors to fill out and submit these applications, but if you have the option of doing it yourself, you probably should. Doctors tend to charge insane fees for this process, above and beyond the high fees for the application itself, so to save money, you should try to DIY your application as much as possible.
Again, states vary when it comes to fees. The lowest cost in the country is Oklahoma, which charges only $25 to veterans and those with documented financial difficulty. Other states have taken strides to reduce the cost of their applications, like Colorado which only charges $35 for registration. However, in some places you expect to pay upwards of $200 for just your application.
Understand Your Marijuana License
After you apply, you should receive a confirmation that your state received your application and an estimated time to delivery of your card. Most often, you will receive your card through the mail within a couple weeks, but if there is something wrong with your application, you might be notified of that issue and required to resolve it within a certain time frame.
Even after you have your marijuana card, you should be aware of its abilities and limitations. Your card should give you access to medical marijuana dispensaries, which tend to have more knowledgeable budtenders and a greater potency of product than recreational pot shops. When you visit a medical dispensary, you should bring your card and any other related information, such as the recommendation from your doctor and a description of the symptoms you hope to manage with weed. In states that only have medical dispensaries, like Oklahoma, you don’t have to work to distinguish between medical and recreational shops, but if you live in Colorado or California, you should pay attention to the licenses displayed in retail spaces to be certain you are receiving the best quality care for your condition.
Typically, cards have expiration dates after a couple years, meaning you need to renew your card — which usually requires another application — before time runs out. You might want to put your expiration date on your calendar to ensure you have uninterrupted access to the best quality weed.
There are dozens of reasons a person might want access to medical marijuana — including that it is the only marijuana legally available in their state. Regardless of your reason, you can use the above steps to qualify for your card in your state, stat.
Disclaimer – The site provides an educational overview of the health and legal implications and does not constitute legal advice. Additionally, local governments are allowed to pass stricter laws. To be fully informed of the laws in your area, review county and municipality marijuana laws across the USA and/or consult legal counsel.