When cannabis became fully legal in Washington State, the medical cannabis program also got an update. Gone are the days when you can find an authorizing doctor right next door to your local MMJ storefront. The rules and process have changed, but you can still get your medical marijuana authorization.
WHO QUALIFIES FOR A MEDICAL AUTHORIZATION
The state of Washington identifies certain conditions that medical cannabis can benefit. To qualify for an authorization in Washington State, you must have a terminal or debilitating condition as defined by the Washington State Department of Health. Qualifying conditions include:
Cancer, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), multiple sclerosis, epilepsy or other seizure disorder, or spasticity disorders.
Intractable pain that is unrelieved by standard medical treatments and medications.
Glaucoma, either acute or chronic, defined as increased intraocular pressure unrelieved by standard treatments and medications.
Crohn's disease with debilitating symptoms unrelieved by standard treatments or medications.
Hepatitis C with debilitating nausea or intractable pain unrelieved by standard treatments or medications.
Diseases, including anorexia, which result in nausea, vomiting, wasting, appetite loss, cramping, seizures, muscle spasms, or spasticity, when these symptoms are unrelieved by standard treatments or medications.
Chronic renal failure requiring hemodialysis.
Posttraumatic stress disorder.
Traumatic brain injury.
If you believe you may have a qualifying condition, check with your doctor to talk about your options. You may be required to show documentation that you have pursued other treatment options and that they have not been successful.
HOW TO FIND AN AUTHORIZER:
With the previous medical cannabis program, it was possible to find a doctor who specialized in only writing medical cannabis authorizations. Under the new program, there are no longer doctors dedicated to solely writing authorizations. It is recommended that you start by asking your general practitioner or the specialist you are seeing for your qualifying condition. The following types of healthcare practitioners licensed in Washington State can authorize the use of medical marijuana:
· Medical Doctor (MD)
· Physician Assistant (PA)
· Osteopathic Physician (DO)
· Osteopathic Physician Assistant (DOA)
· Naturopathic Physician (ND)
· Advanced registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP)
Unfortunately, state law prevents us from recommending a specific practitioner for medical cannabis authorizations. It is recommended that you start by asking your Primary care physician or the specialist you are working with to treat your qualifying condition. The Department of Health does not maintain a list of authorizing practitioners, so it is up to you to find an authorizer on your own.
A quick Google search for “Medical Marijuana authorizers near me” will bring up several options.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING YOUR DOCTOR:
While medical cannabis has been around for decades, the procedures for obtaining your authorization are new. Therefore, not all doctors are familiar with the forms or know what to do with them. It’s beneficial for you to have some basic information in order to make obtaining your authorization as smooth as possible.
When you go to your doctor, she will fill out the “Washington State Medical Marijuana Authorization Form.”
Before leaving the doctor’s office, check to make sure ALL fields are filled in currently. Check the following:
• The authorization form is printed on tamper resistant paper. Starting January 1, 2018 authorizers will be required to use a blue paper with a 1-inch medical marijuana seal in the bottom right corner.
• ALL fields on the form are filled in.
• If you choose to have a Designated Provider make sure the doctor fills out all the fields completely. Designated Providers also they need their OWN form. (You need two forms if you choose to have a Designated Provider)
• If you choose NOT to have a Designated Provider, the doctor must write “NA” in all the fields in the Designated Provider section.
• Ensure that all the information regarding the Healthcare Provider is filled in and accurate.
• The Healthcare provider must sign the form and write in the date issued and an expiration date no more than one year from date of issue. Note: if your provider writes a date that is more than one year, your authorization will still only be valid for one year from the date of issue.
· OPTIONAL – there is only one OPTIONAL field. That is at the very bottom regarding the number of plants you are allowed to grow. This is the ONLY field the healthcare provider can leave blank. If it is blank, you will be allowed to grow 6 plants. Your doctor can authorize up to 15 plants based on patient need.
WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR AUTHORIZATION FORM:
Once you have your authorization papers and have ensured that everything is correct, bring them down to The Novel Tree Medical. Once you are here, we can enter you into the Washington State Medical Authorization Database. You will need to bring:
• Your completed authorization forms
• Driver’s license or valid government-issued ID
The process takes about 15 minutes. We will:
• Take your photo
• Enter your information in to the Washington State Medical Marijuana Authorization Database
• Issue an authorization card
BENEFITS OF OBTAINING YOUR MEDICAL AUTHORIZATION CARD:
That’s it! Once you have your authorization card you will be able to enjoy all the benefits of having a medical cannabis card including:
· Legal protections for medical cannabis patients
· 10 percent price break on the WA state sales tax on all cannabis products
· Ability to purchase up to three times the recreational limit