Despite how it used to be in previous years, marijuana usage has skyrocketed among Americans of all ages. Though a good part of this is the states that have recently completely legalized recreational use, the vast majority of all marijuana usage can actually be attributed to medical marijuana.
Instead of being taken for the purpose of pleasure, medical marijuana is used to treat a myriad of different ailments and diseases, from chronic pain to anxiety. However, unless you are in a state that offers full, legalized recreational marijuana, you need to get yourself a medical marijuana card.
For residents of the USA, this is quite easy – simply go to your doctor and ask for one. As long as you have a qualifying condition, you could be approved.
But what happens if you are a foreigner? How exactly does a foreigner get a medical marijuana prescription?
How Do You Normally Get a Medical Marijuana Card?
To best understand how a foreigner gets a medical marijuana card, it is essential first to understand how you get one usually as a US resident.
However, as is the case with pretty much every element of the US legal system or health issues, everything depends on where you are in the USA.
Thanks to the intense separation between the federal government and the states, individual states can have their own legal requirements. By and large, to get a medical marijuana card, you are going to need to have a valid condition that the state considers worthy of being given a medical marijuana card.
A common misconception is that a medical marijuana card is the same as a simple prescription from a doctor. Unfortunately, due to the fact that marijuana is still technically illegal on a federal level, you need to receive special dispensation from a doctor.
For starters, you need to ensure you have all of your paperwork in order; your medical, legal and personal documents that detail the existence of your condition, as well as its severity.
Once you have all that together, you need to be approved by a registered physician – this is harder than you might think, as many physicians are often older and belong to a different generation; it is possible that they don’t believe in the medicinal properties of marijuana. If this is the case, you might find it difficult to convince your physician to prescribe it.
However, if you are lucky enough to get an understanding doctor, you only need to have an approved condition; this varies from state to state, but in certain states like California, you can essentially say whatever you want and you will likely be prescribed the medical marijuana card. If you have ever been to Venice Beach, you will likely have seen the huge quantity of different storefronts advertising easy medical marijuana prescriptions.
Ultimately, it is quite simple to get a medical marijuana card if you are a US resident, as you just need to live in an understanding state and have a doctor. Now that we understand the actual process, we need to work out how to get one as a foreigner. However, the term ‘foreigner’ has a lot of different variations, each with their own things to consider if you want to try and get a medical Marijuana card.
Getting a Medical Card as a Non-Resident
A non-resident is any person that is not, in any way shape or form, permitted to live in the USA, while also not physically being in the USA. This is a necessary clarification, as you can not be permitted to be in the USA, yet still be residing there.
A bit confusing, isn’t it?
As a non-resident, your options for getting a medical marijuana card are quite limited. In most states, the laws require you to be a registered resident of the state in question to be able to qualify for a medical marijuana card. So what are you to do if you want to get a medical card but you don’t live in that state?
Thankfully, there are a few states that don’t use this rule, such as Oregon and California. In these states, they do not require you to have any form of identification to prove that you are a resident of their state to be able to get a medical marijuana card.
As long as you are a USA citizen and hold a valid USA driver’s license, then you can get your prescription from a licensed doctor in California. This should also work if you are just using your passport.
The fact that you can use your passport is incredibly important for US citizens that don’t actually live in the USA, due to the fact that all driver’s licenses in the USA are distributed and officiated by the state government. This means that you can never get your hands on a valid US driving license unless you have official residency in a particular state, despite the fact that you maintain citizenship.
Just make sure you don’t do anything stupid with your legal weed, like traveling across state borders – just because it might be legal to possess it and use it in one state doesn’t mean that it will be in the other state as well.
So what do you do if you are not a US citizen at all? What if your legal ability to stay in the country is… more questionable?
Getting a Medical Marijuana Card as an Immigrant
The idea of being an immigrant is often a very controversial one in the USA. Thanks to its high GDP and great standard of living, many people see the USA as a haven to flock to, so as to escape their impoverished lives and seek something better for their family.
Unfortunately, it can be extremely difficult to enter the country and become a US citizen legally. This means that many people try to cross the border illegally and live and work within the USA. This means that, while there are plenty of people residing in the USA that are in the process of legally immigrating into the country, there are also plenty of people doing so illegally.
As an immigrant into the USA, legal or otherwise, nothing is stopping you from getting your hands on a medical Marijuana prescription. There are no laws that actively require you to be a full US citizen to be able to purchase medical marijuana, so the only thing you need to be able to show is your proof of residency, such as your Green Card.
Unfortunately, this means that illegal immigrants are obviously completely out of luck – if you are in the country illegally, then you won’t be able to establish legal residency.
However, despite the legality of the situation, there is a reason not to get a medical marijuana card; something very, very important that you should remember – never, ever take marijuana as an immigrant!
Regardless of the fact that you can take marijuana as a Green Card holder, you still absolutely shouldn’t. This is because the criteria for entry into the USA, as well as the requirements you need to meet to become a fully fledged US citizen, are monstrously draconian and harsh.
Many immigration officials are looking for any excuse whatsoever to try and lower the number of accepted immigrants into the USA, so if you ever admit to a border or immigration officer that you have used marijuana, it is incredibly likely that you will have your Green Card or US citizenship revoked.
This might seem insane to you, but that’s because… well, it is. Despite the ever-shifting political landscape and gradual acceptance for marijuana in the USA, those that man the nation’s borders are still woefully behind the times when it comes to an understanding and accepting marijuana.
Though you can legally get yourself a medical marijuana card, you should never, under any circumstances, utilize it unless you completely understand and accept the risks.
If you do use it, never talk about it or carry it outside – you wouldn’t want to put your livelihood in jeopardy.
Final Thoughts on Getting a Medical Marijuana Card as a Foreigner
The legal situation involving cannabis is one of excruciatingly irritating confusion; it is legal in 33 states for medical purposes, ten states for recreational use, and has been accepted in the District of Columbia, the literal seat of government.
Despite all this, it is still difficult to try and get your hands on a medical marijuana card. Broadly speaking, you need to be a US citizen that is currently residing in the USA, though this isn’t always the case.
Some states, like California or Oregon, don’t check where you live, only that you hold a valid proof of residency or are a US citizen. This means that foreigners who have begun the process of legal immigration can legally get their hands on a medical marijuana prescription.
However, if you are visiting the USA as a foreigner, one without any legal ability to stay in the country past their limited entry VISA, then you are completely out of luck.
The only way you would be able to get your hands on a medical marijuana prescription is if you booked yourself an appointment with a doctor who didn’t check identification and just waved you through the process.
However, even if you did manage to get it then, you get stuck just trying to buy the marijuana due to the fact that pretty much all retailers of medical marijuana will check both your prescription and your identification.
Unfortunately, unless you legally reside within the USA and have some proof to back it up, there isn’t much you can do about getting your own medical marijuana card. Even if you have a Green Card, you should still avoid it for fear of messing up your residency.
After all, is medical marijuana really worth being forced to leave the country?