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Medical cannabis is an alternative/supplementary treatment for various conditions, including treatment-resistant pain, seizures, insomnia, and anxiety. Currently, cannabis use is federally illegal but legal for medical use in most states and territories by qualifying patients.
If you are interested in becoming a medical cannabis patient in your state, refer to our patient registration guide below. We cover everything you need to know about the requirements for a medical cannabis card.
Disclaimer: Cannabis regulations can change regularly. Refer to each state’s or territory’s medical cannabis website for the most current policy.
Requirements for a Medical Cannabis Card
Medical cannabis laws vary by state or territory. Qualifying conditions are the conditions and symptoms that qualify for medical cannabis use. If you live in a state that has a recreational cannabis program, you can legally get cannabis without registering as a patient. However, cultivation and possession limits may differ between medical and recreational programs.
Generally, states with medical cannabis laws have approved the following qualifying conditions:
- Chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- HIV and AIDS
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Epilepsy and seizures
- Parkinson’s disease
- Crohn’s disease
Qualifying patients over 18 are eligible to register for their state’s or territory’s medical cannabis program. Minors under 18 may be able to use medical cannabis if they have a parent or guardian as a caregiver.
If you have a qualifying condition that your state permits, consult with your primary care provider if you have one. Even if they can’t recommend cannabis use, they can provide guidance on any possible medication interactions or adverse effects you may experience.
Although it is illegal for physicians to prescribe cannabis, registered physicians may provide a “recommendation” for the plant, certifying that you have a qualifying condition. To obtain a medical cannabis card, look online for a registered doctor able to certify patients for medical cannabis. Consultations may be in person or via telehealth in some states.
State health departments may provide a list of registered doctors who can certify patients. In addition, several industry publications may provide a database of registered cannabis physicians in your state.
To obtain a medical cannabis card, you must provide valid proof of identification. Many states and territories also require proof of residency in one or multiple forms, additional photos, a valid email address, and/or a valid credit card. Refer to the state’s and territory’s medical cannabis program websites for other requirements.
In most states and territories, you may designate a cannabis caregiver to help you buy, manufacture, and/or grow medical cannabis products. Caregivers may need a valid proof of identification, proof of residency, additional photos, a valid email address, and/or a valid credit card to register. Refer to the state’s and territory’s medical cannabis program websites for additional requirements.
How much cannabis you can possess and buy depends on your state’s or territory’s possession limits. States may allow patients to possess one ounce to several ounces of cannabis on their person. In some cases, states may allow higher possession limits of cannabis at a patient’s residence.
States may have different possession limits based on cannabis product type (i.e., edibles and concentrates). In addition, they may limit the amount of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) a product can contain.
In some states, patients and caregivers may grow a certain number of cannabis plants and seedlings at home. States may require patients to register separately as a home grower and pay a fee in addition to registering as a patient. In many states, however, medical cannabis cultivation is prohibited.
Where to Obtain Medical Cannabis
A medical cannabis card allows you to purchase cannabis products from licensed dispensaries. In some cases, a medical cannabis card allows you to have higher purchasing limits, buy more potent products, and grow more plants than recreational users.
Having a medical card allows you to buy approved cannabis products, which can include the following:
- Flower and pre-rolled joints
- Topicals (creams, lotions, salves)
If you plan to visit a state or territory that has a medical cannabis program, check their website to learn if non-resident patients are allowed to participate in the program. If states or territories have a reciprocity program, you may need to register with their program first before you can buy cannabis in that state or territory.
Are you interested in learning how to safely and effectively use cannabis as medicine? Enroll in Cannabis Training University’s Master of Cannabis Certification Program to get a complete cannabis education from industry leaders. Learn more about the program on our enrollment page.