A survey report created in late 2018 shows that there are an estimated 2.6 million legal medical marijuana patients in the U.S.
The federal government still does not recognize the medicinal value of marijuana. Therefore, at the national level, marijuana is illegal. However, a total of 33 states now allow patients with specific conditions to use medicinal marijuana.
In states where medical marijuana is legal, the state government issues medical marijuana cards to qualifying patients. The card allows the holder to purchase and consume marijuana products as a treatment or relieve for particular health conditions.
Now, the question is how to get a medical marijuana card? Every state has different requirements and procedures for obtaining a medical marijuana card. However, the process follows some generalized steps in all the states.
What Are the Qualifications?
If you are looking to acquire a medical marijuana card, you must meet these requirements in order to qualify for approval by the state.
- Must be aged 18 and above
- Diagnosed with a qualifying condition
- Have a doctor’s recommendation
- Must be a resident of the host state
Regulations for minors are different among the various states. In most states, an adult can apply for the card on behalf of a child and pose as a caregiver. Some states require two physician recommendations and a guardian’s consent to approve a medical marijuana card for a minor.
Marijuana is proven to relieve and treat numerous physical and mental health conditions. But not all health conditions are approved by states to use marijuana-related treatments. Various states have different health conditions that are regarded as qualifying conditions for marijuana treatment.
Some common qualifying conditions in most states are glaucoma, cancer, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy, and severe chronic pains.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card: Steps to Follow
Getting a medical marijuana card involves a series of processes. It is essential to follow all the necessary steps to get approval.
1. Gather Your Medical History Documents
Gather all your medical records describing any relevant medical history that might help your case. It may be cases of past illnesses, injuries, or mental conditions that were successfully treated using marijuana. They could also include proof that conventional treatments and drugs are ineffective against your health condition.
Your medical records should not show any adverse side effects of using marijuana in the past, either for recreation or medical purposes.
You might have to work with the state’s health department or human services to gather all the necessary records.
2. Get Recommendation From a Certified Doctor
Armed with the relevant medical documents, you can then seek a physician’s recommendation. To obtain a medical marijuana card, you need to have a written recommendation by a verified doctor. The doctor will ascertain that you indeed have a qualifying condition and is professionally recommending that you take medical marijuana.
Many state-approved dispensaries will have a doctor on standby to make these recommendations. Charges vary from doctor to doctor. Some physicians may charge as much as $200 for consultation and recommendation.
In some states, some dispensaries will allow you to purchase medical marijuana using only the doctor’s recommendation. However, this is a grey area. To avoid any legal problems, it’s best to pursue the med card before buying or using marijuana.
3. Decide on Caregiver or Dispensary System
Depending on your resident state or condition, you have to decide between the caregiver system of the dispensary system to get your marijuana.
A caregiver is a person who is legally responsible for the patient’s well-being in the use of marijuana. Caregivers can also grow their own marijuana crops. However, a caregiver cannot consume any marijuana unless they also have a med card, or the state allows for recreational consumption.
Most states limit the number of plants and patients that a caregiver can have. There is a whole different application process for caregivers.
The alternative to caregivers is dispensaries. These are certified distributors of medicinal marijuana. They are businesses and may be part of a larger enterprise such as Planet 13 Holding. Dispensaries work a bit like pharmacies, although different states have different laws regulating the operations of dispensaries.
4. Fill Out the Application
Next, you have to fill out an application form. Some states allow online applications, while others require mailing the paperwork directly to the health department. In the application, you have to include your doctor’s recommendation, proof of residence and age, and a passport-sized photo.
Proof of residence may be your driving license, government-issued ID, state ID, or voters’ card. You may also use your bank statement, utility bills, and mortgage agreement as proof of residence.
You will also have to pay an application fee to the county and state. Depending on the state, the total fees range between $100 and $250. Most states reduce the fees for veterans and patients enrolled in disability programs.
The host state instructs applicants on the mode of payment.
5. Collect Your Card
Once you have submitted the application, it should take a few weeks to hear from the state. After verifying the information and documents, the state will communicate to you about the status of your application.
If the application is approved, you still have to wait a couple of days or sometimes weeks to have the card ready. After that, the card can be sent via mail, or you might have to schedule a collection date at the state health department.
Sometimes applications for medical marijuana cards are not approved. If your application is declined, the health department may send you a letter indicating the reason for rejection.
Remember that the card is valid for only 12 months. Once it expires, you have to apply for renewal, which is a less strenuous process but you have to pay a renewal fee.
Learn From Your State
The most important thing to know when applying for a med card is what your state requires of an applicant. What are the qualifying conditions, how much do you pay, how do you apply, and does the state recognize medical marijuana in the first place?
Learn how to get a medical marijuana card in your state before you get started. Also, make sure you have enough funds for the doctor and application fees. It’s also important to consider the level of marijuana tolerance in your community and workplace.
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