Apr 18, 2016 5:55 PM

Medical Marijuana Recommendations: Becoming Cannabis Patient in California

Since California voted for the legalization of medical cannabis use in 1996, Californian potheads are probably one of the happiest people in the nation. In addition to being permitted to legally consume, grow, and possess cannabis, they also have easy access to medical cannabis.

To be a legal medical marijuana patient in the state, all you need to do is to get a valid doctor's recommendation—in a form of a letter or a medical cannabis ID card.

This card known as an MMID or Doctor's Rec is a state issued identification card that makes you a qualified patient. Although you are not required to have a card to be considered a legal cannabis patient and a simple doctor's recommendation is allowed, the Americans for Safe Access (ASA) Foundation claims that a state-issued card provides an extra measure of protection against arrest: It looks more official to the police and can work in your favor in court in the case you are out of the state.

This guide was created both for those who still believe that obtaining a medical marijuana license in California is difficult and for weed newbies who are just getting antiquated with the manner in which things currently work with medical cannabis in California.

Step 1: Determine Whether You Have Eligible Medical Condition

The criteria to qualify for medical weed vary from state to state, so it is recommended to consult a doctor to determine whether you have an eligible medical condition.

Like the laws of most cannabis-friendly states, California State Law Prop 215 requires you to provide your medical records before obtaining a recommendation for medical marijuana.

According to the state's law, the list of eligible conditions includes severe and chronic illnesses such as arthritis, glaucoma, AIDS, anorexia, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, and epilepsy, as well as many other less serious diseases for which cannabis may be effective. Although chronic pain remains the most common condition for which marijuana is recommended, medical cannabis can be beneficial to a much wider group of patients. Cannabis is used to treat conditions ranging from depression to inflammations to insomnia. Make sure your condition is listed as eligible. If your condition is not on the list but you can prove that you suffer from chronic pain, you may still get MMID.

Needless to say, you must be at least 18 years old or to have a primary caregiver who is.

Step 2: Find “Marijuana-Friendly” Doctor

This step is for those patients whose primary care physicians refused to recommend medical cannabis, possibly out of fear of federal prosecution. However, such concerns are baseless due to the state's law that protects doctors from federal prosecution for recommending the plant. Do not worry; there are clinicians that specialize in medical marijuana, so you will not leave without your cannabis card.

When choosing the medical center to get a recommendation, it is important to find a qualified doctor. It goes without saying that the doctor should have a license; ideally, you would want someone with medical cannabis background and experience. A doctor cannot “prescribe” you medical marijuana but is able to “certify” or “recommend” to use it.

As with any other doctor, your relationship with your medical marijuana physician should be respectful and fully confidential. For this reason, it is recommended to be selective when choosing a specialist and try to stay away from themed clinics or online telemedicine platforms that promise to provide you a cannabis card in five minutes for $40. Such facilities do not usually care too much about their clients and can go out of business without leaving a contact for follow-up verification. Moreover, they can be illegal and can sometimes even sell patients' information on the black market. Do not use such services unless you are willing to risk your

ID, social security number, and other personal records being released to the public.

Step 3: Get Your Card

Remember, to legally become a medical cannabis patient you need only a state ID or a driver's license and a valid doctor's recommendation.

The process of making the card and verifying the doctor's recommendation usually takes at least 24 hours. Make sure that your medical cannabis ID card does not contain your name, address, or other sensitive information (except for your photo). If you doubt whether your MMID is valid, consult government agents or a local attorney to verify the legitimacy of the card.

Step 3: Go Shopping

Once you received your medical marijuana card, you can safely go to dispensaries to make purchases for a whole year—the doctor's recommendation is valid for 365 days. You can also grow up to six mature (or twelve immature) marijuana plants.

The doctor's recommendation can also specify that you need an amount of the weed that exceeds these limits.

Some states, such as Michigan, Montana, and Rhode Island, should recognize your California-issued card.

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