As adult use (recreational) cannabis legalization becomes more popular around the country, you may have thought twice about why you would want to get a medical marijuana recommendation, especially if you live in a state like Colorado or California. However, having your medical card may be more useful than you think. In fact, about 1.5 million people have medical marijuana cards. Twenty-nine states plus the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana to varying degrees. In some states, nearly anyone can go to a doctor for a recommendation, whereas states with stricter programs require patients to suffer from one of only a small handful of qualifying conditions.
However, not every doctor is qualified to recommend medical marijuana to their patients. In New York, for instance, doctors must complete a four-hour online training course before they can recommend cannabis. Keep in mind, doctors can only “recommend” and not “prescribe” medical marijuana because it is still a federally illegal substance. In certain cases where the law is more strict, the patient must qualify based on having only a specific disease, suffering from that disease to a certain degree, and having tried and failed with other medications.
In more lenient states it’s much more simple. There are essentially two routes you can go. One is to visit the doctor in person, while the other is to have an online consultation.
If you don’t feel comfortable asking your general practitioner to write you a recommendation, don’t worry — there are many doctors who specialize in writing medical marijuana recommendations for all kinds of patients, anyone from insomnia to anxiety, PMS to cancer.
Keep in mind that visiting a medical marijuana doctor in person might come along with high fees and potentially brief consultations. The alternative is to sign up with an online service like Hello MD or Eaze MD, which connects patients with doctors via video chat. As with an in-person doctor, you’ll need to submit information like your medical history and state identification. But either way, you could easily buy medical marijuana from a dispensary or through a delivery service that very same day. Getting a medical marijuana recommendation usually costs between $40 and $60, though some doctors with more credibility might charge up to $200. While it’s less of a concern these days, in the past having a credible medical marijuana doctor to stand up for you in court, should you find yourself in legal trouble, was a valid consideration.
One issue, however, that comes with getting a medical marijuana recommendation is if you get a patient ID card from the state. That could allow employers to search databases and discover you use cannabis. Whether they can do anything about that, though, is up for debate.