Medical Cannabis Card Authorization: Do I Qualify?


When recreational dispensaries opened in 2014, Washington residents were left asking themselves: “Is it really worth getting a medical marijuana card?” If you are over the age of 21, you do not need a medical card to shop in any of the medically endorsed dispensaries in Washington state.

How do I know if I qualify for a Medical Cannabis Card?

The Department of Health recognizes terminal or debilitating medical conditions that are severe enough to significantly interfere with the patient’s activities of daily living and ability to function.

The list of qualifying conditions includes:

  • Cancer, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), multiple sclerosis, epilepsy or other seizure disorder, or spasticity disorders.

  • Intractable pain, limited for the purpose of this chapter to mean pain unrelieved by standard medical treatments and medications.

  • Glaucoma, either acute or chronic, limited for the purpose of this chapter to mean 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. 

You may be required to show documentation that other treatment options were unsuccessful for your condition. If you believe you may have a qualifying condition, speak with your physician to find out what they require to issue an authorization.

What are the benefits of a Medical Cannabis Card?

Medical patients in Washington state benefit from 10% savings off the sales tax for all cannabis products. In addition, they may purchase up to 3 times the recreational limit and can grow their own plants.


Authorizing healthcare providers

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 qualified healthcare professionals who can issue an authorization are:

  • Medical Doctor (MD)

  • Physician Assistant (PA)

  • Osteopathic Physician (DO)

  •  Osteopathic Physician Assistant (DOA)

  • Naturopathic Physician (ND)

  • Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP)

Although the law prohibits us from recommending a specific physician, we have a list of providers that are familiar with the medical authorization process to answer any questions you may have.

A quick Google search for “medical marijuana authorizers near me” will bring up several options.

Authorization Form Requirements

Not all physicians are familiar with the authorization process, so it’s important to have some basic information before heading to your appointment. The Department of Health requires this specific form to be completed by your physician in entirety. Every box must be filled in, except for the “Additional Plant Recommendation”, as this section is optional.

The form must be printed on 8.5” x 11” tamper-resistant paper with the RCW 69.51A.030 logo in the lower right-hand corner.

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Sections that are most commonly overlooked by healthcare providers include:

  • Designated Provider Information. Anyone over 18 does not need a designated provider, however this section must be filled in. If you do not want a designated provider, have your physician fill in “NA” for each box of this section. 

  • Healthcare Practitioner License Number. You will not be able to get entered into the database without a complete healthcare practitioner number. (Ex: MD00001234) 

  • Issue Date & Expiration Date: Having dates written in both sections are necessary to make your medical card.  

Before leaving your physician’s office, be sure to go over your authorization form to ensure every box is filled in.

Getting your Medical Cannabis Card

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

This process takes about 15 minutes. We will:

  • Take your photo

  • Enter your information into the Washington State Medical Marijuana Authorization Database 

  • Issue an authorization card

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I go about growing my own medicine?  

The authorization allows a patient to grow up to 4 plants. Your physician can authorize you to grow up to 15 plants. Once you’ve verified that you are a medical patient, The Novel Tree Medical can refer you to producers who work with medical patients to start their own garden.  

How long is my medical authorization valid?  

If you are under 18 years of age, you must see your physician at least every 6 months. Patients 18 and older can have a valid authorization up to 12 months. Be sure to ask your physician how long your authorization is valid in your exam. The expiration date can be found in the lower right-hand corner of the authorization form, and on the bottom of your medical card.  

Now that I have a medical card, can I travel to other states with my medicine?  

No. Products sold from licensed dispensaries in Washington state must be consumed in Washington state. It is advised that if you are traveling with your medicine to another city (within the state) to keep your medical card and authorization form handy.  

What if cannabis is legal in the state I’m traveling?  

No. It is still considered illegal under federal law to transport cannabis across state lines.  


If you are a physician or inquiring patient with additional questions, we encourage you to reach out to our staff. We are happy to assist you through this process in any way we can.