In the United States, medical marijuana is legal in 36 states, four out of five permanently inhabited US territories, and the District of Columbia. The National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is fighting to reform harmful cannabis legislation.
There is quite a bit of variation in cannabis laws from state to state, including how it can be produced, sold, and consumed. The first state to pass a medical marijuana program was California in 1996. After California started the first medical marijuana program, several other states soon followed suit.
While the United States has medical marijuana programs across the country, cannabis remains federally illegal and is still classified as a Schedule 1 substance with no medical value. To learn why cannabis is illegal in the United States, check out our article Why Is Weed Illegal?
What Is a Medical Marijuana Card?
A medical marijuana card is a license issued by your state that indicates that you can use, buy, and grow cannabis products in that state. A medical marijuana card typically contains information like your full legal name, your date of birth, your address, your patient license number, and your photograph.
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In general, most states’ medical marijuana cards last for about one or two years before you need to renew the license. Some states will allow you to purchase cannabis with an out-of-state medical marijuana card, while others will not. If you are a medical cannabis patient and are planning to travel, it is a good idea to look up local regulations if you intend to use your medical marijuana card while out-of-state.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card
First and foremost, you need a doctor’s recommendation to get your medical marijuana card. In some states like California, you can do a quick 5-minute consultation with a doctor over the phone and get your medical marijuana card online. In other states like Oklahoma, you need to have a face-to-face consultation with a physician.
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Of course, you need to have a qualifying condition to get a medical marijuana card. Qualifying conditions vary from state to state. In California, doctors will often recommend cannabis for back pain, insomnia, anxiety, as well as cancer, glaucoma, Chron’s disease and a variety of other conditions. Other states like New York have a more restrictive list of qualifying conditions.
What Is a Cannabis Doctor?
Not all doctors can recommend medical cannabis. Only cannabis doctors registered in your state can recommend medical marijuana. However, some states will require medical tests from your primary care practitioner to verify that you need a medical marijuana card, so it is always a good idea to consult with your primary care practitioner first.
Before you meet with a cannabis doctor, it is worth noting that no doctor in the United States can prescribe cannabis. Prescriptions are under the FDA, and cannabis is federally illegal. Cannabis doctors work around these legal barriers by “recommending” cannabis.
What to Expect When Getting Your Medical Marijuana Card
While your experience will differ state to state, there are some general points that the cannabis doctor should touch on during your consultation. You should expect to be asked about your health conditions, any medications you may be taking, and any questions or concerns you have about using cannabis products. The cannabis doctor may ask you about your symptoms and advise you on what times of day to ingest based on your goals.
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Additionally, your doctor should advise you on any adverse side effects that you may experience like increased heart rate, dizziness, drowsiness, and more. After you have spoken with your doctor, you may need to register with your state’s health department. You should look up your state’s regulations to make sure you take the proper steps to get your medical marijuana card.
In California, you don’t have to do anything further and they will send you an electronic copy of your medical cannabis recommendation. It may take a few weeks to get the physical copy of your medical marijuana card, but you will be able to use the digital copy right away to purchase cannabis medicine.
Now that you know how to get a medical marijuana card, you can use Jointly to find the best products and optimize how you consume cannabis so that you can enjoy your ideal experience every time. Jointly is cannabis wellness app that teaches you how to achieve your wellness goals with cannabis and CBD. Jointly allows you to track and record your CBD and cannabis consumption, including the dose, time of use, cannabinoid profile and various other factors that can influence your experience. As you track your cannabis consumption on Jointly, you will learn about the 15 factors that can impact your cannabis experience and how to eliminate side effects. Download the Jointly app on the App Store or the Google Play Store to get started on your cannabis wellness journey.
Sam Anderson is the content Director at Jointly, a cannabis wellness company powered by a proprietary data platform to help people reach their full potential. The company was created on the premise that purposeful cannabis consumption is the key to unlocking a better you. This article originally appeared on Jointly and has been reposted with permission.