A large proportion of Americans are now lucky enough to live in a state with a medical marijuana (MMJ) program. This is fantastic news for anyone suffering from a qualifying medical condition who would prefer to use marijuana rather than more conventional medication.
If this sounds like you, you’re probably eager to apply for an MMJ card and get started with your new treatment. But there’s just one catch; your doctor needs to approve you first.
Picture the scene; You turn up at your doctor’s office, hand over your consultation fee, and wait anxiously. But after your assessment, your hopes are left in ruins as your doctor denies your request. If you end up in this position, you might feel disappointed, frustrated, even angry. But all is not lost.
Here’s what to do if your doctor won’t approve you for medical marijuana:
How to Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card
Before we get started, let’s take a brief look at the process of applying for an MMJ card. The exact procedure varies depending on which state you’re in, but in general, there are three stages to any application:
- Receive a recommendation from your physician
- Apply for your MMJ card through your state’s program
- Receive your card and head to the dispensary
There are fees associated both with getting a recommendation and applying for your MMJ card. Again, these fees can differ from state to state, but doctor’s fees are rarely cheap and can sometimes run into hundreds of dollars.
Of course, money isn’t everything, and your health is well worth the investment. However, if your doctor won’t approve you for medical marijuana, you could be left feeling cheated. After all, your doctor should have your best interests at heart, so why would they refuse?
Here are some common reasons why a doctor might not approve you for an MMJ card:
Why Would a Doctor Not Approve You for Medical Marijuana?
There are many different reasons why your physician may not approve you for medical marijuana. Some of them make more sense than others, so let’s take a closer look.
You Don’t Have a Qualifying Condition
Getting an MMJ recommendation depends on having one of the ‘qualifying conditions‘ that are listed by your state’s program. The conditions that will get you approved for an MMJ card depend on where you live, but some of the most common include:
- Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
- Cancer/cancer treatment
- Chronic pain
Unfortunately, some states are far more generous than others when it comes to qualifying conditions. Some of the states with the longest lists include Connecticut, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. If you reside in one of these places, there is a good chance your medical condition could be covered. However, if you live in Alaska, Colorado, Maryland, or Massachusetts, for example, you may have less success.
You Don’t Have a Bona Fide Relationship with Your Physician
Most states’ medical marijuana programs require you to have a ‘bona fide relationship’ with the physician who makes your recommendation. Precisely what this means is open to interpretation, though. According to the New Jersey Division of Medicinal Marijuana, for example, it could mean one of three things:
- You have been registered with your doctor for at least one year
- You have visited your doctor a minimum of four times
- Your doctor has carried out a detailed consultation including medical history, physical exam, and review of your complete medical records
Once again, the exact requirements will vary state by state. Essentially, your physician must be responsible for your ongoing care, not just approving you for medical weed.
You Just Want Recreational Weed
If you are trying to get cannabis for recreational use, an MMJ assessment is probably not the answer. If you go to your doctor hoping to convince them you need marijuana by inventing some condition or exaggerating symptoms, they will likely be able to tell. In this scenario, there is a very good chance that you will be turned down and end up wasting precious time and money.
Your Doctor is Too Old-Fashioned
We now live in an enlightened era where the medicinal value of cannabis is beginning to be recognized. Unfortunately, though, some physicians seem to be stuck in the past. While some doctors may straight-up disapprove of marijuana, others might just be uneducated.
If your doctor feels they do not know enough about cannabis and its uses, they may not approve you for that reason alone.
What to Do if Your Doctor Won’t Approve You for Medical Marijuana
Fortunately, if your doctor won’t approve you for an MMJ card, you still have options. Here are some things you could try:
Find a New Doctor
If your doctor fits into the old-fashioned/uneducated category, your best bet is to simply find a new one. There are plenty of physicians who specialize in medical marijuana, and finding one could be as easy as a Google search.
Just remember, you need to have a bona fide relationship with your doctor to be approved, so find out precisely what this means in your state.
If you are lucky enough to live in a state that also allows for recreational cannabis use, you can purchase weed without a recommendation providing you are over 21. At the time of writing, recreationally legal states include:
- Washington, D.C.
In 2019, Illinois announced its plans to become the latest state to legalize recreational weed. Its new laws come into action on January 1st, 2020.
There are some distinct benefits to getting an MMJ card over buying recreationally. Higher possession limits are just one example. However, if your doctor won’t approve you, this may be your only choice.
Move to Another State
OK, this is pretty drastic, but if you are desperate for marijuana and live close to a state border, you might consider a move.
For example, if you live in Arizona but are close to the border of California or Nevada, you could move by just a few miles and benefit from recreationally legal cannabis. However, you should note that it is illegal to transport marijuana across state lines, so don’t be tempted to try this.
You might also consider moving if your illness isn’t included in your state’s qualifying conditions, but is listed in a neighboring state. Just bear in mind that you do need to be a resident of your issuing state, and most places do not accept out-of-state MMJ cards.
Try Getting Approved Online
If you happen to live in California, New York, or Nevada, you could try getting approved for medical marijuana online. Companies like NuggMD offer fast and affordable online services to help you get an MMJ card.
Because these companies specialize in medical marijuana, they might offer you your best chance of getting a recommendation with the minimum amount of hassle.
What to Do if Your Doctor Won’t Approve You for Medical Marijuana: Final Thoughts
If your doctor won’t approve you for medical marijuana, don’t despair! Although it might seem like a massive blow, especially if you’ve just shelled out a hefty consultation fee, there are other ways to get approved.
Of course, if you do not have one of the qualifying conditions listed by your state, you might have no choice but to go down the recreational route. Otherwise, you could consider moving, although this is somewhat extreme.
However, if your physician has turned you down due to prejudice or lack of knowledge, a new doctor or an online service could help. Just make sure that you arrive for your assessment armed with all the information you need. Bring details about your symptoms, medical history, and what treatments you have tried, and you should be good to go.
Increase your chances of getting approved by finding a physician who specializes in medical marijuana, or at least knows something about its use. You can then get your medical records transferred and book in for your consultation.
At the end of the day, getting a medical marijuana recommendation isn’t just down to your doctor; it’s also down to you. So do your research, be prepared, and hopefully, you will be on your way to the dispensary in no time at all!