Medical marijuana has been steadily making its way across the country, with more and more states legalizing programs to connect patients in need with medical cannabis to potentially ease and alleviate unwanted symptoms. However, not all patients can physically access doctors, who are the gatekeepers of medical marijuana in all legalized states.
Whether barred by distance or circumstance, these patients benefit from technological advancements that allow them to connect with doctors online for cannabis evaluations. Read on to learn how to get a medical marijuana card online.
What is a medical marijuana recommendation?
A medical marijuana recommendation is a document obtained from a physician that states, in the doctor's professional medical opinion, the patient has a qualifying condition and would benefit from medical cannabis use. Patients use this recommendation to apply to the agency that oversees the state's medical marijuana program in order to obtain a medical cannabis card.
A medical marijuana card is a state-issued ID card that enables patients to purchase medical marijuana products, either through a licensed cannabis dispensary or via a medical marijuana delivery service. In most states, patients cannot enter these facilities or legally purchase or possess medical cannabis without this card.
First steps to get a medical marijuana card
In most states patients must first meet with their doctor to determine whether they have a qualifying condition that could benefit from medical marijuana. This visit may require a patient to bring supplemental documents, such as prescriptions, health records, and other information that will help the doctor evaluate the patient's condition.
The doctor examines the patient and determines whether they have a qualifying condition. If so, the doctor fills out a state-provided form to be submitted with a patient's online application. Once the application is approved by the state, it issues a medical marijuana card.
What is the application process like?
As medical marijuana regulations vary widely from state to state, so too does the medical marijuana application process. For example, Colorado and Oregon grant medical cannabis patients access to a wide variety of products. Their list of qualifying conditions is also lengthy, allowing more individuals to utilize medical cannabis. Less weed-friendly states, such as Texas, however, enforce stricter programs with sometimes only one qualifying condition. Regardless, the marijuana program in most states follows similar procedures for obtaining medical marijuana cards. .
First, patients must meet with a qualifying physician and receive a diagnosis of a qualifying condition. The doctor will fill out and sign a recommendation, which will sometimes include dosages, consumption methods, and a period for which the patient qualifies for medical marijuana.
The patient submits all required forms online, including an application, proof of residency, the doctor's recommendation, any caregiver form, and an application fee. The state department that oversees the medical marijuana program evaluates the patient's online application and, if approved, mails them a medical cannabis card.
Usually, a cannabis card and recommendation last for one year after issue, after which a patient must once again meet with their physician and fill out another online application to renew their medical card.
What types of doctors can prescribe medical marijuana?
Legally, no doctor is allowed to prescribe medical marijuana. The word prescribe is regulated by the FDA, which only allows physicians to prescribe medication approved by the FDA for specific health conditions. To circumvent this technicality, doctors provide recommendations for cannabis use to their patients.
The type of doctor able to recommend medical cannabis varies by state. Most often, a medical doctor (MD) or doctor of osteopathy (DO) can provide medical marijuana recommendations to patients. Some states also let patients get their medical cards via nurse practitioners, physician's assistants, or other healthcare personnel.
How does the process to get a medical marijuana recommendation online differ from in-person?
The advent of telemedicine has changed the way doctors and healthcare workers interact with patients. Telemedicine involves the use of technology and electronic communications to provide clinical services to patients without an in-person visit.
Some states, but not all, allow a doctor to evaluate for medical marijuana use via a telemedicine practice. The process is essentially the same. The doctor assesses the patient and determines if they would benefit from medical marijuana. If so, the patient receives a recommendation to obtain a cannabis ID card.
The most significant difference between online and in-person evaluations is the inability of a doctor to thoroughly examine his or her patient over a video call. The doctor relies entirely on patient testimony. For some conditions this provides the doctor with enough information to make an educated decision for the benefit of the patient's health. In this case, the doctor would fill out and sign the recommendation form and either submit it directly to the state's cannabis program online or electronically send it to the patient to submit themselves.
Some states, though, don't believe an online visit is enough for a doctor to make a qualified decision about a patient's cannabis use. Check with your state's medical marijuana department to determine it's policies.
How do I find a health care provider who can help me get a medical marijuana recommendation online?
Search Weedmaps for telemedicine doctors in your area who may be able to help you obtain a medical marijuana card online. You can also call your doctor directly and ask whether they would be willing to conduct an online telemedicine visit with you to evaluate you for a cannabis card.