Medical marijuana can be a contentious subject for some, but the benefits of the plant can no longer be denied. In fact, thirty-two states and four US territories have legalized medical cannabis use and distribution. Most states do not allow cannabis to be smoked in public or do they allow possession of the plant in correctional facilities; but more and more patients in America have access to medical marijuana.
Three things you need
Anyone seeking a medical marijuana prescription for any of the qualifying conditions will need three things, regardless of what state they reside in.
- Proof of residence: Patients will need to provide proof they are a resident of a medical marijuana state.
- A qualifying condition: Conditions that qualify for the use of medical marijuana vary greatly from state to state.
- Documentation from a doctor: Finally, patients will be required to receive a prescription from at least one medical professional.
Once you have all three of these things, you will be able to pick up a prescription at a state-run marijuana dispensary, or in some cases have rights to cultivate your own plants. Now that you know what you need, the question remains: What conditions qualify for a prescription of medical marijuana?
The biggest question for most people now is which medical conditions will actually qualify for a medical marijuana prescription. The qualifying conditions for a medical marijuana prescription depend greatly on the state in which you reside.
The most common conditions, meaning those that are considered qualifying in the majority of medical marijuana states, include:
- Agitation related to Alzheimer’s Disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Arnold Chiari malformation
- Certain migraines
- Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy
- Decompensated cirrhosis
- Epilepsy, seizures, or persistent muscle spasms
- Hepatitis C
- Huntington’s Disease
- Inclusion body myositis (IBM)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Interstitial Cystitis
- Muscular dystrophy (MS)
- Myasthenia Gravis
- Nail Patella Syndrome
- Ulcerative colitis
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Peripheral neuropathy
- PTSD, and symptoms thereof
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
- Residual limb pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Severe pain
- Severe nausea
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- Sub therapy of opioid addiction
- Spinal cord damage causing intractable spasticity
- Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA)
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Terminal illness
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Tourette’s Syndrome
This is a long list of conditions that qualify patients for a medical cannabis prescription in the states that have legalized, however not all of these conditions apply to all states. And some states have left space for physicians to make the decision, like in California where there is a caveat in the medical cannabis bill that allows a doctor to prescribe cannabis when it seems a patient could benefit from the prescription. In New York, medical cannabis may be prescribed in place of opioids.
There are tools available online to help you determine your eligibility for a medical marijuana prescription, depending on the state where you currently reside.
The best way to determine if you qualify for medical marijuana use is to visit your state’s individual website. As we mentioned before, the qualifying conditions do vary sometimes drastically from state to state, so it’s important to verify your state’s specific qualifications.
Other things to know
What else do you need to know before approaching your doctor about a medical marijuana prescription? If you do have a qualifying condition, there are still a few questions left to ask, including:
- What type of medical marijuana is available? Does your state permit the use of cannabis oil, edibles, smokeable cannabis or concentrates? Some states only allow low-THC oil for medical marijuana treatments, so it’s important to know what is available in your state.
- Where can medical marijuana be purchased? Medical marijuana will mostly be available in state-licensed dispensaries, which will be located around the state. Just like the qualifying conditions, the dispensary locations will vary from state to state, so it’s important to check with your state’s medical marijuana office.
- Does your current doctor support the use of medical marijuana? The topic of marijuana is a hot-button issue for a lot of people, and there are more than a few medical professionals who do not support the use of the substance, legalized or not. If your doctor doesn’t support the use of medical marijuana, it may be time to switch to a provider that does offer the support that you need.
- Does your state offer recreational marijuana as well? If so, a prescription for medical marijuana might exempt you from some of the taxes placed on the sales of marijuana for recreational use. Colorado is a prime example of this. While medical marijuana sales do fall under the 2.9% state sales tax, it is exempt from the state’s 10% marijuana sales tax.
More and more information will become available as activists continue get medical cannabis, legalization, and decriminalization bills on the ballot. The information we’ve gathered here is a good place to start, but if you’ve got any questions we haven’t addressed, the best thing you can do is contact the department in your state that handles the regulation and sale of marijuana to get state specific answers.
Last Updated May 27, 2020
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