The legal weed card: For those suffering from any of a host of illnesses it’s a needed license to use the best possible medicine for their condition. For recreational stoners, though, it’s a Golden Ticket, the Holy Grail.
But, like, how do you get one?
Well, for residents of the 25 states that support legalized medicinal marijuana, there are 25 complicated answers to that single, simple question. Still, there is a clear pattern across most prescribing states.
Generally, speaking—and let’s use Arizona as the example here—you must be a resident of the prescribing state with a state driver’s license and over the age of 18. In Arizona, your GP is under no responsibility to prescribe you stank on your next yearly physical, nor are they required to refer you to a physician who can (though they may).
Many more states don’t even allow GPs to prescribe weed. Instead they have certified small handfuls of physicians and clinics to do the job. If your doctor isn’t cooperative or your state won’t allow them, you’ll have to go seek out one of these weed docs, though most states do not provide registries of those doctors (Google is your friend here).
From there you’ll have to schedule an appointment and, in almost every case, pay out of pocket. Prices range from $75 to upwards of $300 depending on the clinic and the state. As well, many of these clinics and doctors have long, long waiting lists (in New Jersey a three-month wait is not unusual).
In Arizona, you’re required supply medical records and to go under examination by your weed doc who will be looking to match you up with any of the ailments on the list of approved medical conditions for prescription. Many are quite dire (HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, etc.) but some leave the door open for interpretation (PTSD, chronic pain, depression). In states such as New York, the list is restrictive enough that only those truly suffering have a good shot. In California, it’s the wild, wild West.
Back in Arizona, you’ll have to take the various forms your doctor has filled out for you and then register online at a state-run website. This, again, will cost you a small fee. Almost every one of the states has such a registry and prices for joining and getting your card delivered can run anywhere from $75 to $300. Moreover, to refill your prescription you’ll have to schedule follow-up visits, each of them costing $75 to $150 (again, out of pocket). In Arizona, whole process takes about seven business days.
While Arizona is pretty typical as states go, there are outliers. In California, for instance, there are is a large supply of “evaluation centers” stocked with docs itching to give you a scrip for a small fee (normally less than $200). At the larger ones—there are statewide franchises, some offering online certifications—you can leave with your card fully printed, laminated, and ready for use in approved dispensaries in less than two hours.
And what do you get with your card? Well, that depends on the states too. In Cali you’re permitted to possess 8 oz. of “usable” marijuana, six “mature” or 12 “immature” plants from any legal dispensary. Not bad. In New York you’re allowed a “30-day supply of non-smokable” marijuana—cannabis that’s really only good for cooking with. Things are even more complicated in Ohio where smoking weed is not a legally approved method of intake.
Note that there is no standard definition of what “usable” marijuana is, how much equals a “30-day supply”, or what a “mature” or “immature” plant looks like. Indeed, those definitions may change not only from state to state, but from local law-enforcement official to local law-enforcement official. Even if you’re legally certified in a state, that doesn’t mean you won’t have to cope with overeager cops trashing your stash.
Oh, and even after you’ve jumped through all the hoops and restrictions above, you still have to pay for your own bud. Whether it’s Sour Diesel from a Cali dispensary or whatever junk New York calls pot, the markup on legal weed is usually pretty high.
All this said, though, there’s nothing quite like a legal high. To find out the deal in your state, start researching here.