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The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Medical Marijuana Card

Ruth Lemon
Ruth Lemon - Operations Manager

Sep 17 2020 - 23 min read

If there’s one thing Leafwell knows about, it’s how to get a Medical Marijuana Card online!

We help patients across every state with a Medical Marijuana Program get their cards via our quick, easy and HIPAA-compliant telemedicine platform.

Whether you already know lots about how marijuana can be used as medicine and are now looking to apply for a card, or you’re still researching whether medical marijuana is the right choice, this guide will give you all of the information you need to make informed decisions.

We talk about everything from the application process, to using marijuana as a medicine for a range of conditions, to how to go about seeing a licensed medical professional and securing that all-important medical marijuana certificate.

So, let’s jump right in!

Table of Contents
  1. The Process of getting a Medical Marijuana Card
  2. What Conditions Qualify for an MMJ Card?
    1. How Cannabis Can Help
    2. Cannabis and Wellness
    3. The Science Behind Using Cannabis as Medicine
  3. How Much does a Medical Marijuana Card Cost?
    1. Cannabis and Medical Insurance
    2. Discounts for Medical Marijuana Card Applications
    3. Why an MMJ Card is Worth Every Cent
  4. State Laws and Medical Marijuana Cards
    1. States with the Most Lenient MMJ Programs
    2. States with the Strictest MMJ Programs
    3. Federal Cannabis Laws
    4. Cannabis and Work
  5. How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card via Telemedicine
    1. What to Expect From Your Medical Marijuana Doctor
    2. How to Prepare for Your Appointment
    3. Leafwell’s Telemedicine Platform is HIPAA Compliant
  6. Getting a Medical Marijuana Card for your Child
    1. Common Childhood Uses of Medical Marijuana
    2. Applying for an MMJ Card for a Child
    3. Being the Parent or Legal Guardian of a Child using Cannabis
  7. Getting a Caregiver’s Medical Marijuana Card
    1. Which States Allow Caregivers?
    2. Applying as a Caregiver
    3. The Role/Responsibility of a Caregiver
    4. Legal Implications as a Caregiver
  8. Your FAQs Answered
Medical Marijuana Card Cost
Medical marijuana card

 

The Process of getting a Medical Marijuana Card

The first thing to note is that every state with a Medical Marijuana Program has a slightly different process. We’re not going to write out the details of every single state here because this information is covered on the individual state pages of our website.

However, here is a general overview of the most common steps across the states:

Step 1: See a medical professional in your state

For many states, you can now do this via telehealth platforms like Leafwell so you don’t have to leave your home or take a huge chunk out of your day traveling to a medical marijuana clinic. It is quick, easy and HIPAA compliant.

Simply fill out our application form on your computer, tablet or mobile phone then enter our virtual waiting room until a doctor in your state is available. The wait is usually only a few minutes. If you’re short on time, a doctor will call you back at a time which suits you.

During this online meeting, your physician will ask you some standard questions, just like when you go to see your doctor in person. They will need to ask about your medical history as well as the condition for which you are seeking medical marijuana. You will also have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about medical marijuana.

Step 2: Get approved and receive your certification

If the medical professional approves you for medical cannabis, the certificate will be emailed to you shortly after the appointment has finished.

Step 3: Apply to the state Medical Marijuana Program

Download the PDF copy of your certificate and upload it as part of your application to the state Medical Marijuana Program. In most states, registering with the medical marijuana program is a necessity.

Step 4: Get approved and receive your Medical Marijuana Card

You’ll receive a plastic Medical Marijuana Card from your state which you can use as ID to legally purchase quality medical marijauna from your local dispensary.

Some states have more steps, some have fewer. Some change the order, some states don’t even require you to hold a physical card. It sounds complicated but it isn’t. At least, it isn’t when you’ve got the experienced customer service team at Leafwell there to help you out. We’ve done the legwork for you: our team fully understands every program in every state, so we’re ready to guide you through each process, step-by-step, if required.

Before You Start the Application Process

But before you apply, you’ll need to check if you’re eligible for a Medical Marijuana Card (or MMJ Card). There is a list of conditions attached to every medical marijuana program (except Oklahoma) and it is based on this list that our doctors must decide whether to approve each patient. When you speak with one of our medical marijuana doctors, they will ask you about your condition and symptoms.

It is important you are honest with the physician so we can give you the best advice possible for your condition. When you book your appointment, you’ll need to provide the physician with your medical records. This allows our doctors to make informed decisions about your healthcare. Your medical records may include:

  • Physician’s progress notes
  • Health summary
  • List of diagnoses
  • Medication list
  • Picture of prescription bottles

These need to be uploaded onto our secure HIPAA compliant platform ahead of your appointment with your physician. We recommend you gather everything you’ll need together before starting the application process to make it as quick and easy as possible. All of your medical notes are kept confidential and we never share any of your information with third parties.

What Conditions Qualify for an MMJ Card?

In order to qualify for a Medical Marijuana Card, most states require that you see a state-licensed medical professional to confirm that you are suffering from one or more of a pre-approved list of medical conditions. Conditions may be physical such as cancer, epilepsy, or HIV, or mental such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD.

Every state has a different list of conditions it considers ‘qualifying’ but here are the most commonly featured medical conditions:

Most states also permit MMJ Cards for terminally ill patients as part of their palliative care routine. Some states only allow this when the patient has a predicted life expectancy of six months or one year, however.

Remember, every state list is different. To find out which conditions are included in your state, search the Leafwell website with the name of your state + qualifying conditions (e.g., New York qualifying conditions).

Medical Conditions MMJ Card
Medical Conditions MMJ Card

 

How Cannabis Can Help Qualifying Conditions

Cannabis is medicine – it’s as simple as that. The plant has myriad uses (which we’ll address later) but first we’ll look at the types of medical conditions for which patients across the US and around the world use cannabis to treat and alleviate symptoms.

Many of the conditions on these lists can be grouped together. For example, it is generally agreed that medical marijuana is beneficial for those suffering from inflammation and this in turn is a common cause of chronic pain. Some states use the blanket term ‘chronic pain,’ while others list examples such as arthritis or fibromyalgia as specific chronic pain conditions.

Medical marijuana can also be used in the treatment of wasting syndrome, or cachexia, which is a side-effect of chemotherapy and drugs such as antiretrovirals for AIDS/HIV. It has been successfully used by those suffering from anorexia and some states permit this as a qualifying condition.

Evidence shows that THC can be useful for those suffering from anorexia and bulimia because it increases our hunger levels (think the munchies). Alternatively, some states permit the use of cannabis for those suffering from diabetes, as cannabinoids like CBD and THCV can reduce our appetite and suppress our desire for sweet treats.

Similarly, there is evidence to support the use of medical marijuana for those suffering from depression and anxiety. Some state lists use general terms (and all include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) while others dive deeper into a range of psychological conditions. Microdosing cannabis is most effective for depression & anxiety. Low doses of THC make people feel more relaxed. It is important to be careful not to consume too much THC, as higher doses can increase anxiety.

Cannabis and Wellness

Did you know that anxiety and chronic pain are the most common conditions for which we certify patients here at Leafwell? In recent years, medical marijauna has become not only an effective way to alleviate symptoms of patients suffering from conditions such cancer and HIV but has been recognized for its efficacy in treating a wide range of health and wellness concerns.

Leafwell has been conducting its own research into how medical marijuana can be used beyond the traditional, ‘serious’ conditions and instead used for more holistic purposes. Cannabis contains chemicals called cannabinoids. There are around 150 of them and many are proven to lower stress levels.

Not only is stress attributed to conditions such as depression and anxiety, it is also a common side effect of other medical conditions and can exacerbate suffering and symptoms. There is also a link between higher stress levels and lower life expectancy. Stress and inflammation are very much linked, and inflammation is a key factor in the development of many health problems.

Beyond stress, some studies have started to look at the links between cannabis and our brains, trying to understand the positive impact cannabinoids may have on the receptors in the brain. Visit Alzheimers Society for more information on how these studies are progressing.

Cannabis is known as an anti-inflammatory and can help to alleviate pain caused by inflammation. This pain could be from a one off injury or a medical condition. Pain often causes insomnia, which in turn makes the pain worse. When we’re tired, our bodies perceive pain to be more intense, which leads to poorer sleep patterns. Chronic insomnia can also cause bone and joint pain, and ultimately trigger arthritis. It’s a Catch 22 situation.

Cannabis can break this cycle because not only does it act as an anti-inflammatory but it also can help people get a better, longer and more restful sleep.

The Science Behind Using Cannabis as Medicine

The cannabis plant contains chemical compounds called cannabinoids. These cannabinoids interact with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) within our own bodies to produce results. As there are over 100 cannabinoids to be found within cannabis (and more are being identified regularly), we like to call cannabis a pharmacy in a plant. The industry is only just beginning to tap into cannabis’ incredible potential and Leafwell is excited to be part of the process of unlocking the therapeutic potential of cannabis.

Our Endocannabinoid System is involved in keeping our bodies and its physiological functions and processes in balance (homeostasis). This could range from regulating our appetite to controlling our sleep cycle and even to how we feel after we exercise. Our ECS produces endocannabinoids which interact with two receptors – the CB1 and the CB2. Cannabis plants contain cannabinoids which can interact with these receptors too.

Sometimes our body’s own ECS gets out of balance and cannot properly regulate it. This could cause anything from chronic pain or mental health problems to IBS or stress. When our bodies can’t create the correct endocannabinoids, we can supplement with cannabinoids from cannabis plants such as THC and CBD, two of the most well-known cannabinoids.

There are hundreds of cannabinoids in the cannabis plant and thousands of combinations of these cannabinoids which can be created to treat bespoke conditions and symptoms.

The versatility and flexibility of cannabis and its cannabinoids makes it a highly effective medicine and one which can be adapted to suit every person. We all have a unique body, and therefore a unique Endocannabinoid System. Therefore the way in which our bodies interact with the cannabinoids is different.

Unlike traditional over the counter medication or prescription drugs, cannabinoids can be tailored and dosed to a far more precise and nuanced level, enabling patients to develop the perfect balance for their bodies and their needs.

Cannabis is also safer than many of these drugs, as there is almost no chance of a deadly overdose. This is because the ECS breaks down naturally derived cannabinoids very quickly, meaning deadly levels aren’t built up in the body.

Cannabis does interact with other medications, however. Be careful if you are using cannabis in combination with sedatives or opioid/opiate-based painkillers, as there is a negative interaction here. In fact, cannabis can help reduce or even replace the need for such addictive substances. This is why it is important to be honest with your doctor during your consultation about any medication you are taking at the moment.

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS). How THC moves along the ECS. Synaptic signaling.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS). Synaptic signaling of THC across the presynapse and postsynapse.

 

How Much does a Medical Marijuana Card cost?

There are a few separate costs associated with getting your medical marijuana card. Not all of these apply in every state or to every patient:

  • Paying to see a licensed medical professional
  • Paying a fee to the state to apply for the license
  • Renewing your card (and certificate) when it expires
  • Paying for a caregiver license (if required)
  • Buying the medical marijuana products

All states require a certificate from a licensed professional (which you can obtain via Leafwell’s HIPAA-compliant telemedicine platform). Our fees vary state by state. You can find the exact cost for your state on our ‘How Much Does it Cost to Get a Medical Marijuana Card?’ blog.

As every state has its own Medical Marijuana Program, every state has the authority to set not only its own pricing but also how often the cards need to be renewed. Some cards are valid for 3 years (such as in Illinois), some are valid for 90 days (such as in New Jersey). The frequency in which you have to renew your card will impact its cost so bear this in mind.

Cannabis and Medical Insurance

Cannabis is illegal at the federal level. This means that even if your state has decriminalised or legalized recreational/medical marijuana use, your medical insurance will not cover the cost of applying for the card nor buying the products.

Discounts for Medical Marijuana Card Applications

Some state programs have discounted fees available for certain groups of the population such as veterans or those on medicaid or other government benefit programs. We list all of the discounts currently available on our ‘How Much Does it Cost to Get a Medical Marijuana Card?’ blog. You can find more information on the state websites for individual medical marijuana programs.

Why an MMJ Card is Worth Every Cent

If you’re asking ‘why would I pay for a card when recreational marijuana is legal in my state?’ we hear you! But it is worth it for several reasons.

Firstly, and crucially, a medical marijuana card allows you to shop legally in dispensaries that carry higher quality products that have been tested and certified by legitimate companies. You have access to a greater number of products, and in some instances higher levels of THC as well.

While purchasing marijuana from other sources may be legal in your state, these products are often not as well regulated. You have less idea what you’re buying. This makes it very difficult to correctly dose and manage the marijuana as you would any other medication. It’s higher risk and can lead to negative experiences which don’t showcase the true medical value cannabis could have to offer.

Secondly, a medical marijuana card often entitles the holder to a discount such as tax free purchases within licensed dispensaries.

Finally, in addition to saving you money and providing access to superior products, carriers of an MMJ card enjoy certain legal protections. Even if recreational marijuana use is legal in your state, an MMJ card carrier may be licensed to grow plants, carry larger amounts and be protected from discriminatory practices in the workplace.

State Laws and Medical Marijuana Cards

As mentioned above, there is not a Medical Marijauna Program at the federal level and therefore every state has its own laws when it comes to using and possessing medical marijuana.

While we don’t have the space (and you don’t have the time) to list all of the laws for all the states in this piece, here are some common, general laws which most states with a Medical Marijuana Program have in some form or another:

  • The possession and purchase limits are capped (generally based on what is considered a reasonable amount for an individual to use on a monthly basis).
  • The consumption of medical marijuana is banned from public spaces, specifically government buildings, schools and public transport.
  • States which permit home-cultivation require all plants to be out of public view, and ideally locked away.
  • It is illegal to drive a vehicle or operate heavy machinery while under the influence of medical marijuana.
  • Individuals with an MMJ Card are not permitted to own firearms.
  • Federal employees are not permitted to use medical marijuana, even in legal states (this may change, though).
Medical Marijuana Laws
Medical marijuana state laws.

 

States with the Most Lenient MMJ Programs

Ok, we’re going there. Here are the top ten more relaxed, lenient and generally accommodating states when it comes to Medical Marijuana:

  1. California
  2. Colorado
  3. Hawaii
  4. Illinois
  5. Maine
  6. Michigan
  7. Nevada
  8. New Hampshire
  9. Ohio
  10. Oregon

Note: most of these states have also decriminalized or even legalized recreational marijuana use to some extent. As a trend, a lenient Medical Marijuana Program generally goes hand in hand with states that have more relaxed recreational laws in place.

States with the Strictest MMJ Programs

Some states, in contrast, have very limited MMJ programs. These are the five states which offer some form of telemedicine service but with the most restrictive conditions lists, the most complex application process, or the most awkward states in which to obtain medical marijuana:

  1. Georgia
  2. Louisiana
  3. Texas
  4. Utah
  5. Virginia

But if you live in one of these states, there’s no need to despair. The Leafwell team is still here to help you through everything, every step of the way.

Federal Cannabis Laws

Note that because cannabis is illegal at a federal level, no one who works for the federal government can apply for an MMJ Card. As most states keep a registry of their users, we do not recommend applying if you work in a federal capacity, as this may threaten your job position and any health insurance associated with it.

Cannabis and Work

We wanted to take a moment and address the subject of MMJ Card holders and employment. Again, every state is slightly different and some large employers may have internal policies beyond state laws. However, here are our recommendations for employees who are unsure what their employers’ attitudes are towards medical marijuana use:

  • Read your employee handbook and look for a clause mentioning medical marijuana. Follow that advice.
  • Check the employment laws in your state. Find out what your rights are and what your employer’s rights are. It is worth remembering that, in many states, employment is at the employer’s discretion. Some may be lenient, sympathetic or even supportive of medical marijuana, whereas others may be more hardline.
  • Speak with your union. Find out if they have experience in this area and what their position is on medical marijuana.
  • Check the Medical Marijuana Program website in your state for specific advice and guidance.
  • If you are in a position to do so, approach your employer or HR and discuss with them your intention to obtain a medical marijuana card and invite their comment on this. Open and honest discussions are always the best.
Telemedicine consultation.
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/intelfreepress/6948764580/sizes/o/in/photostream/; author: IntelFreePress (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card via Telemedicine

Let’s back up a moment – what is telemedicine?

Telemedicine or telehealth is the practice of gaining access to medical or health advice and support via technology, most commonly now through video call software but also via traditional phone calls.

Telemedicine offers improved accessibility to healthcare services, particularly for people whose mobility is limited or whose health or location makes travelling to a physician’s clinic difficult.

In recent years, telemedicine has become increasingly popular, and this was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic in spring of 2020 when clinics around the country learned quickly to embrace this format for seeing patients without risking anyone’s health. Not only did it allow people to continue to access vital healthcare support and guidance, it enabled them to do this without compromising their health or breaching stay at home orders. Even as states opened up, many physicians chose to build telemedicine into their business models because they recognized its convenience for their patients.

Leafwell has been a big advocate of telemedicine for years, and has been at the cutting edge of this technology even prior to COVID-19. It’s quick, convenient and really easy to use. We’ve developed a HIPAA compliant system for our telemedicine platform so that all of your conversations with our physicians are confidential and secure.

Since speaking with a state-licensed healthcare professional is a requirement for most state Medical Marijuana Programs, we understood that it was important for us to make this first step on your journey as quick and easy as possible. That’s why we opted to create a telemedicine platform which can be accessed by patients around the country at a time that suits you, from the comfort of your own home. And with our doctors on standby from 7am to 7pm every day of the week, you’ll never have to wait to speak to one of our experienced team.

What to Expect From Your Medical Marijuana Doctor

Every medical professional who works with Leafwell has experience supporting patients who use medical marijuana for a range of different conditions. Put simply, they understand and believe in the power of medical marijuana.

Your appointment will last for about 10-15 minutes, during which time you will speak with your medical marijuana doctor about your condition, discuss any medication you are currently on or have taken in the past. This allows your doctor to build up an accurate picture of your current condition as well as allowing them to make an informed decision with regards to whether or not medical marijuana is right for you.

The questions asked will be familiar to you as they are all standard questions any physician would ask to make sure they understand you as an individual patient ahead of prescribing medication or treatment.

Most importantly, understand that every one of our doctors knows the value of medical cannabis and are impassioned advocates for marijuana as medicine. Therefore, if you’re looking to obtain an MMJ Card but do not feel comfortable approaching your family physician, Leafwell may be the perfect solution for you. There’s no judgement or assumptions from our team. We just listen to you and make recommendations based on you as an individual and our years of experience.

Note that, for minors or for patients who have a caregiver, the parents/guardians or caregiver can meet with the doctor on behalf of the patient if required. However, some states have specific requirements when it comes to caregivers and minors.

We have a comprehensive overview of what caregivers should do on each of our state specific pages on our website. In most instances, a caregiver will need to fill out their own application form as well as one for the minor. Some states require a pediatric specialist as well, which we can provide here at Leafwell.

How to Prepare for Your Appointment

Our doctors are licensed professionals and need to see a few documents ahead of the appointment. In addition to standard ID checks, we also ask all patients to upload any medical records they have. This helps our doctors to build up an accurate picture of your medical history.

Your medical records may include:

  • Physician’s progress notes
  • Health summary
  • List of diagnoses
  • Medication list
  • Picture of prescription bottles

As part of the application process on the Leafwell website, you will be prompted to upload these documents. It is ideal if you have them to hand before you start the process but our software will save your progress if it takes you a day or two to complete these steps. Remember all documentation uploaded to our telemedicine platform is protected under our HIPAA compliant practices.

Leafwell’s Telemedicine Platform is HIPAA Compliant

We’re committed to keeping you safe. All of your data, from your personal information to your medical records, are protected by our HIPAA compliant process which ensures everything is confidential and that no one has access to your personal information.

We take the safety and security of our patients’ records very seriously and have safeguards in place at every step of the process so you can rest assured that using our telemedicine platform is quick, easy and HIPAA compliant.

Getting a Medical Marijuana Card for your Child

Most Medical Marijuana Programs permit people aged 18 and up to apply as patients. However, many also allow for minor patients (under the age of 18) to apply with the support of a parent or legal guardian.

The conversation surrounding medical marijuana and children is a complex one. Most of the concerns about using cannabis while the brain is still developing relates to THC, a particular chemical in cannabis which we’ll discuss later. Research into the use of CBD, another chemical in cannabis, for minors offers robust evidence that there are no adverse side effects.

It must also be realized that children with serious conditions are often prescribed some very harsh medications with nasty short- and long-term effects, and that THC and CBD may be a better alternative in such instances. Cannabis is a medicine and thus treated as such.

Common Childhood Uses of Medical Marijuana

Many state medical marijuana programs have conditions included on the list specifically for children. Some of the most common conditions which children suffer from and may be prescribed medical marijuana are:

  • Autism
  • Cancer and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
  • Epilepsy, Hydrocephalus and other seizure disorders
  • Any chronic pain where opioid-based medications may otherwise be prescribed.

Note that some states have a different list of qualifying conditions for minor patients than they do for adults. You can check the conditions on the individual state pages of our website.

Applying for an MMJ Card for a Child

The first step of your application is an appointment with one of the Leafwell doctors. Note that some states require two separate physician certifications to be submitted: you can obtain two from us if this is the case. To do this, you’ll need to book two appointments, one after the other. We’ll make sure you see two different physicians. You may also need to see a pediatric specialist, which we can help provide as well.

Depending on the age of the minor, the consultation will include both the parent and child if appropriate. If your child is very young, our physicians will speak directly with you as the parent or legal guardian. As for adult patients, we’ll need to see a comprehensive medical history and ask questions related to the qualifying condition as part of the appointment. For more information about medical marijuana and children, we recommend you read our blog ‘How to Get an MMJ Card for Your Child.’

Medical Marijuana Card Child
Getting an MMJ card for your child.

 

We won’t shy away from the fact that there is a stigma attached to children using medical marijuana. But this stigma is rooted in bad science and misunderstanding of the incredible power and unparalleled value that medical marijuana offers.

First things first, if medical marijuana is the right choice for your child, then that’s the end of the argument. As the parent or legal guardian of your child, you are in the position to make the right, informed decision for your child’s health. No one else can tell you how to parent your own child.

While there is no need to disclose what medication your child is taking, many parents and legal guardians find that it helps to inform their child’s school about the use of medical marjuana for their child. Our physicians can help you explain the purpose of the cannabis treatments and offer a few tips when it comes to broaching this conversation.

Given that state laws explicitly state that medical marijuana cannot be consumed on school property, it may be necessary to make arrangements for your child to take a dose off-site during the school day.

Depending on the age of your child, you may be involved in the day to day administration of medical marijuana or you may be able to take a more hands off approach. We recommend you find a rhythm that works best for your family – after all, every child is different. You may need to complete some courses in order to be recognized as a caregiver as well.

Many parents or legal guardians are apprehensive about choosing the route of medical marijuana for their child but there is a growing body of work and supporters that recognize the value of cannabis as medicine for children. As long as you follow recommendations from an experienced medical marijuana doctor and carefully monitor not only the dosage but also the results, we believe medical marijuana is a safe and valuable medicine for minors.

Getting a Caregiver’s Medical Marijuana Card

Most states recognize that some patients who may benefit from medical marijuana may require assistance obtaining and ingesting the product.

Of course, all minors need to have a ‘caregiver’ (a parent or guardian) but caregiver medical marijuana cards go beyond that parent-child relationship. For card holders who cannot leave their homes and/or who have physical or mental disabilities, it is possible to apply for a caregiver’s medical marijuana card to assist with obtaining, transporting and taking cannabis.

Therefore, most state Medical Marijuana Programs include the option to either assign a caregiver who is licensed to purchase, transport and administer medical marijuana medications, or allow caregivers to apply in their own right for the same access.

Which States Allow Caregivers?

Most states allow caregivers. Some state websites give comprehensive information about how a caregiver can apply and what is required. Others are lacking in this clarification. However, after extensive research, we’ve put together this list of states which do not offer caregiver medical marijuana cards:

In all other states, you can apply to be a caregiver, so if you live anywhere except for in the above states, keep reading.

Note that some states allow patients to have two caregivers. Many states limit how many patients a caregiver can be associated with.

Applying as a Caregiver

Most states require caregivers to be 21 years of age or older. Some allow caregivers to be 18 years or older. You’ll need to show your ID when you apply as a caregiver for a Medical Marijuana Card. For most states, you must be a US citizen and live in the same state as the patient. Some states also specify that you must live within a certain distance of the medical marijuana patient for whom you will be a caregiver.

For many application processes, there is a criminal background check required for the caregiver. If you have criminal convictions, you may not be eligible to become a caregiver.

Some states charge for the caregiver application. However, many don’t and most have reduced rates as it is recognised that you are carrying the card to support a patient who’s already paid for their own card.

The overall application process is similar to any patient applying for their MMJ Card. Some states require caregivers to submit an application in their own right. Others require the details of the caregiver to be submitted alongside the patient’s. If required, a caregiver can usually be added or removed to a patient’s application at any time while the card is valid.

Having a caregiver’s medical marijuana card does not entitle you to use medical marijuana for yourself. For that, you will need a medical marijuana card of your own.

The Role/Responsibility of a Caregiver

The role of the caregiver will depend on what the laws of the state say caregivers can do. For the most part, caregivers can legally purchase medical marijuana from a licensed state dispensary on behalf of the patient. Just like any other patient, the caregiver will need to show their medical marijuana card (or equivalent) as ID when they make their purchase. They are allowed to carry (transport) and possess the same levels as the patients according to the state Medical Marijuana Program.

Some states allow caregivers to apply for a cultivation license which allows caregivers to grow cannabis for use by their patients. This can be useful for many patients who are seeking to use a specific cannabis strain.

In most situations, the caregiver to a cannabis patient is likely to be someone who lives with them or provides almost daily caregiving services. In this role, the caregiver will likely have taken on some responsibilities when it comes to the person’s day-to-day health and safety. By holding a caregiver medical marijuana card, the purchase and administration of medical cannabis can be considered to fall under that umbrella.

A child needs to have a caregiver in order to qualify for a medical marijuana card. A picture of a mother holding and kissing her child.
Becoming a caregiver. From https://www.piqsels.com/en/public-domain-photo-swyxm. Public Domain Picture CC0.

 

Every state has different laws when it comes to their caregivers under the Medical Marijuana Program. By carrying the caregiver card, you will be protected under the relevant legislation from state criminal penalties.

If you want to be a caregiver for more than one medical marijuana patient, check the laws within your state as some only permit individuals to be a caregiver for one person at a time. Some allow multiple patients per caregiver but most are limited.

For all caregivers, we recommend reading the individual state laws to make sure you understand how the law phrases your role and responsibilities and the legal protections which you are granted (and which you are not).

Your FAQs Answered

We’ve given you a lot of information but we’re sure you still have more questions. And that’s ok. Asking questions is an important step towards deciding if a Medical Marijuana Card is right for you and deciding whether to apply for one. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Will my insurance cover my MMJ card and costs?

No. Cannabis is illegal at the federal level so insurance policies will not cover the cost. It is also worth checking with your insurance company to make sure there are no clauses related to medical cannabis whereby holding an MMJ card invalidates the policy. This is very rare but it’s better to be safe than sorry, so check the fineprint.

Can I complete the application process for my MMJ card online?

For most states, yes. There has been a concerted effort to digitize every step of the process by most Medical Marijuana Programs as they recognize completing everything online makes it quicker and easier for everyone involved.

The first step for most states, which is meeting with a medical professional to secure a certificate or recommendation, can be done via our telemedicine platform in the majority of states with a Medical Marijuana Program. Once you receive the PDF version of our certificate, which approves you for medical marijuana, you can upload this as part of your online application to your state Medical Marijuana Program.

Is it worth it for me to get an MMJ Card?

In a word? Yes! Medical Marijuana Cards allow individuals to access the products they need legally. The card also allows you to purchase more products and often at lower prices, thanks to the tax relief in place across many programs.

Perhaps most significantly, MMJ cards allow you to buy licensed, tested and certified products from dispensaries. This means you know exactly what you’re buying, are able to better track and control your dosage and know that you are purchasing high quality products which have undergone testing and are most likely labeled accurately. This is key when using marijuana as medicine.

Some states also have medical marijuana reciprocity with other states, meaning that you could be protected by more than one state’s medical marijuana laws!

How long is my card valid for?

Most states issue cards for one year. Some states have cards which are valid for up to three years or as little as three months. But by far the most common are one year cards. Leafwell will send you a reminder email a month before your card expires, inviting you to renew with us.

Can I renew an existing MMJ card with Leafwell?

Yes. If you already hold an MMJ card, we can provide you with the necessary documentation to renew it. As you already have a medical marijuana identification card, you have already registered with the appropriate state’s Department of Health and medical marijuana program. This means much of the work is done, and Leafwell can make renewing your medical marijuana certificate even easier by allowing you to speak to a physician via telehealth.

Do I get a physical card?

Most states still send out a physical, plastic MMJ card much like your ID card which can be kept on your person and used to purchase your medical marijuana products.

However, some states now have either an app which holds a digital version of the card or permit the showing of a PDF card or certificate as proof of your status as an MMJ certified patient.

We anticipate that digital cards are going to become more common as technology becomes ever more ingrained in everyday life.

How long does the process take?

It depends on the state. Step one, meeting with a Leafwell medical marijuana doctor via our telemedicine platform, can take minutes. But after that, you’ll need to submit your certificate/recommendation from Leafwell to the state Medical Marijuana Program application scheme and this is where things tend to slow down.

Some states are able to process applications very quickly and you could see your approval and the arrival of the card within a couple of weeks. Others take longer. The delays have been compounded by Covid-19 and some states are saying that wait times could be upwards of a month at the moment.

To speed the process along, we recommend you prepare before you start the application by ensuring you have everything you need ready to be submitted to minimise delays. You’ll find a comprehensive list of everything you’ll need for each state on our ‘how to get a medical marijauana’ guide blogs.

Got another question?

We hope we’ve answered everything but if we haven’t, head to our homepage and use our chatbox to speak directly with our customer care team and get your enquiries answered promptly.

Ready to apply?

If you’ve decided that getting a Medical Marijuana is the right choice for you, head to our homepage, select your state from the dropdown and click Get Started to begin your application to see a medical marijuana physician online in your state. We look forward to approving you very soon.

Booking a consultation with a doctor for a physician's recommendation or medical cannabis certificate and medical marijuana card with Leafwell.
See a doctor today and get a physician’s recommendation for a medical marijuana card.
Written by
Ruth Lemon
Ruth Lemon - Operations Manager

Ruth Lemon has worked in Cambodia and Australia, gaining experience in the non-profit sector, education and international development, and digital marketing. New to the cannabis sector, Ruth is helping Leafwell to scale without compromising the customer experience and seeks to create a frictionless customer journey. She now lives in the UK with her rescued Cambodian cat and believes Leafwell is improving access to and understanding of a valuable medical alternative.

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