Medical marijuana is only legally available in the states and territories that have established medical marijuana programs. The conditions and ailments that are approved for medical marijuana treatment vary, so you’ll need to first determine whether your condition is included on your respective state’s list of qualifying conditions. For up to date information on state medical marijuana laws and included conditions, visit our education page.
The rules and requirements for acquiring legal medical marijuana also fluctuate widely between each individual state and territory.
In general, you’ll need to visit your doctor who, if feeling that you and your condition would benefit from medical marijuana, will write you a recommendation. Because the FDA does not consider marijuana an approved medication, your doctor cannot prescribe it and your insurance will not cover it. Your doctor’s recommendation, however, authorizes you to move forward in the approval process.
In some states, like California, a signed doctor’s recommendation (and a state photo ID) is enough to gain access to medical marijuana dispensaries (authorized marijuana distributors) and offers some protections for patients when purchasing and transporting their marijuana.
Other states will require you to obtain a state issued medical marijuana “card”. Often this will include being placed in the state’s respective record system. You will then be allowed to buy marijuana from a state approved dispensary or (in some states) delivery service. Depending on your state of residence, there may be an enrollment fee needed to apply for a medical marijuana card, costing up to $200.
Once you have access to a marijuana distributor, you’ll have the option between a number of different options for using legal medical cannabis. Dried marijuana flower is still the most popular form, but a growing number of states have banned smokable marijuana in their programs. Other choices include tincture sprays, capsules, vapes, concentrated extracts, and edibles. For those looking for external applications, balms, salves, and lotions can be rubbed directly into the muscles, joints, and skin for focused relief. There are even dermal patches that can be placed on the skin for delayed release through the day.