When Am I Eligible for Medical Cannabis?

Stephen Andrews
22 Jul 2022

Legal medical cannabis is currently available in 37 U.S. states, three territories, and the District of Columbia. Medicines derived from marijuana include pills, sprays, and liquids that contain psychoactive THC and non-psychoactive CBD. Medical marijuana may be recommended to you by your primary care physician if you suffer from chronic conditions that affect your daily life and normal functioning. Usually, each state has its own list of qualifying conditions for which medical cannabis can be prescribed.

Health professionals can prescribe medical marijuana to patients for various conditions. The most common use of cannabis as medicine is for pain relief. Medical cannabis may not be as powerful as painkillers. It may not exactly help with pain after surgery. However, it can help alleviate chronic aches and pains due to other health conditions or aging. Another benefit of medical cannabis is that it is not as addictive as opioids and can replace opioid prescriptions.

Marijuana is also used to help cancer patients who struggle with nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. It also helps boost the appetite of cancer patients or those who suffer from AIDS, anorexia, wasting syndrome, and relatable conditions.

In medical practice, marijuana medicines are best effective when they are consumed in the form of pills, sprays, and liquids. These are purified forms of marijuana, which is a precondition for use in medicine. However, medical cannabis treatment may also come in the form of topical creams, oils for vaporizing, and dried flower for smoking. It all depends on the underlying condition that is being treated.

Qualifying Conditions

A patient must have a qualifying medical condition and be a legal resident in the state where they live to be eligible for medical cannabis therapy. For example, to access the Minnesota medical cannabis program, you need to be a legal Minnesota resident and to have been certified with one of the qualifying conditions under Minnesota's medical cannabis laws. 

Each U.S. state has its own list of qualifying medical conditions. While the list below is not exhaustive, it features the most common eligible medical conditions nationwide: 

  • AIDS 
  • Anxiety
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's disease
  • Epilepsy and seizures
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Nausea and vomiting (as symptoms of other conditions)
  • Chronic pains (severe forms, intractable forms, or as a symptom of other conditions)
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Migraines
  • Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Positive HIV status
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Terminal illnesses

A physician can recommend medical marijuana treatment if you suffer from chronic symptoms of the qualifying condition. This entails symptoms that disable you from carrying out simple daily tasks or threaten your physical or mental health and overall safety.

It's also worth noting that not all physicians have experience with cannabis treatments and how this type of medicine can help people. If you believe that you qualify for medical cannabis and you can acknowledge that your doctor lacks the experience with cannabis medicines, look for health care professional who you know have at least some background in treating patients with cannabis medicines

when am i eligible for medical cannabis.

Getting a Medical Marijuana Card (MMJ)

If your primary care physician determines that your illness requires the use of medical cannabis, and after they discuss any possible side effects or other risks, the next step is getting a medical marijuana card. 

The process of how to obtain a medical marijuana card will vary from state to state. However, in most cases, approval from a doctor is necessary, and after that, you must submit your information with the state's medical marijuana registry. Registration is usually done online. 

During registration, you will most likely be asked to present proof that your doctor has recommended or approved medical cannabis for your health condition. Sometimes, your state may ask you to create an online account to complete your registration. Your application and doctor's approval will remain saved on your profile if you at some point need to renew your MMJ card.

If you live in California, the system functions with medical marijuana ID cards. This ID card is as well obtained with a physician's recommendation but it's also voluntary. The benefit of having one is exception from sales and use tax.

Applying for medical marijuana card is also possible if you are a caregiver. The only difference is that upon registering, you will most likely be required to fill in information both about yourself and the person who was approved for the medical marijuana treatment. 

Registration is complete upon settling a small application fee for your MMJ card, again done online. And then, once you obtain your card, you can purchase medical marijuana from a medical marijuana dispensary near you.

Alternatively, you can also grow your own medicine. That is if your state allows patients to grow their own. There are several other benefits to homegrowing such as saving money and closely monitoring the medicine you are consuming. It can also become a nice hobby (or you can think of it as having a new "pet").

Stephen Andrews