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What Is a Medical Cannabis Card and How Do I Get One?

As popular as medical cannabis is, there are still plenty of people who know very little about it. It goes without saying that there are probably plenty of people who would benefit from using medical cannabis but don’t know how it’s legally possible. The good news is that the topic is not difficult to understand.

To date, thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia have given the green light to medical cannabis. In all those states, patients need some sort of medical cannabis card in order to purchase cannabis products. Each state’s medical cannabis card is slightly different in its details, but all cards basically work the same way.

A Card Is a License

For all intents and purposes, a medical cannabis card is a license. It is similar to just about any other license a state would grant. Where a driver’s license gives a state resident legal authority to drive, a medical cannabis card would give that same resident the legal right to purchase, possess, and consume medical cannabis products.

Purchasing is the big thing. Let us say you lived in Utah and wanted to use medical cannabis to treat chronic pain. You could not even walk into the Beehive Farmacy in Salt Lake City without a valid medical cannabis card. No card equals no purchase. And since Utah does not have a recreational market, you would have no other way to legally purchase cannabis.

Cards Are Issued on Recommendations

A medical cannabis card is also not a prescription. Likewise, the doctor does not write a prescription for cannabis. Instead, the doctor recommends medical cannabis as an appropriate treatment for a patient’s condition. Said recommendation is what allows the patient to get a card.

What does a patient do with his card? He uses it to purchase medical cannabis. Some states require doctors to recommend specific cannabis delivery options and doses, thereby restricting the patient to said specifications. Other states, like Utah, essentially allow patients to self-medicate.

Beehive Farmacy patients choose their preferred delivery methods. They also determine their own dosage. Granted, the law requires that patients consult with a cannabis pharmacist at least on the first visit. After that, consultations are voluntary. Yet it is expected that a patient will seek guidance from a pharmacist in order to use medical cannabis safely.

Applying for a Card Is Easy

The states also vary in their application processes. But again, the basics are the same. Applying for a card generally is not difficult. Here is the process in Utah:

  1. A patient starts by establishing an online account and beginning the application process.
  2. The patient then visits a medical provider. The medical provider makes an online recommendation.
  3. The patient returns to his online account and completes the application.
  4. They submit the application along with the annual registration fee.

That’s it. Applications are reviewed in 15 days or less. Once approved, the patient’s card is sent electronically.

To my knowledge, most of the states with medical cannabis programs require patients to file their applications online. They all require visiting with a medical provider to get a recommendation. And finally, states have qualifying conditions lists. Medical cannabis can only be recommended for conditions on a state’s list.

Ask Your Doctor

If you live in a medical cannabis state and you believe you would benefit from using the plant medicinally, ask your doctor about it. The worst that could happen is your doctor denying your request. But if your request is approved, it could open the doors to a whole new treatment for your condition.


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