This guide is intended to help patients who are new to using cannabis therapeutically to treat a medical condition. Topics covered include the following:
- Qualifications to become a medical marijuana patient
- Conditions treatable with medical marijuana
- Health care providers who can legally recommend marijuana
- Steps to take after receiving a cannabis recommendation
- What is a medical marijuana card
- Why you should get a medical marijuana card
For starters, it’s important to know that many terms are used for cannabis, yet all generally mean the same thing: marijuana (used interchangeably with cannabis throughout this article and the United Patients Group site), weed, pot, ganja, and herb, just to name a few.
If you have a medical condition that is not being effectively treated with traditional drugs or therapeutic interventions, your doctor may recommend or you may be considering using cannabis for pain and symptom relief. Many questions come up for new patients. Here we will cover all of the basic ones. If you still have questions, check out the resource section of our website or feel free to contact us directly.
How Do I Qualify to Be a Medical Marijuana Patient?
Any individual suffering from a serious or chronic medical condition in which other traditional measures and medicines have not been effective can see a qualifying health care professional who can write a recommendation for medical marijuana as part of ongoing treatment of the patient’s terminal or debilitating condition. The physician, after completing a physical examination and documenting the medical condition in the patient’s record, will provide a written recommendation stating the patient would benefit from treatment using medical marijuana.
A recommendation is different than a doctor’s prescription that could be filled at a pharmacy. Cannabis is classified by the federal government as a Schedule I drug and therefore doctors are not allowed to prescribe it, but they can supply patients with medical marijuana recommendations that comply with state law, allowing patients to either buy from a dispensary or supplier or grow themselves, in specified quantities.
Besides having a medical marijuana recommendation by a state licensed health care professional, some states also require that you show proof of residency and be 18 years or older. If you are under 18, a parent or guardian must accompany you.