*this is solely my experience, it may be different for others. I live in Arizona, the requirements can be different for different states, and the type of product offered can be very different also. You can read a good article about the whole process on Leafly, here.
As soon as we moved to Tucson I started the process of getting my Medical Marijuana card. I received it on my birthday (July 2nd). Here’s the process I went through:
First I had to get an Arizona Driver’s License, thankfully I kept my license up to date even though I hadn’t driven in years. To get my license I had to prove my identity and prove I live here, I took a copy of our lease and mail that had been forwarded from our previous address. Within an hour after arriving at a DMV I had my temporary license in hand, after 2 weeks I received my official license in the mail. Very shortly after that I went in to apply for my Medical Marijuana Card.
To obtain a Medical Card from the Arizona Department of Health I needed to take my medical records that proved I have been dealing with one of the approved conditions on the list for over a year, in my case severe migraines, to a doctor to see if I qualify. To find a doctor who will do these referrals was pretty easy, I just looked in the local free paper, there are plenty of ads (I actually think this is kind of weird) I saw an ad that looked a bit more professional than some of the others and emailed them (as most of you probably know, I don’t use the phone because of my hearing loss). The doctor I saw is a Naturopathic Doctor, she reviewed my records briefly and checked my vitals. She told me a little about Medical Marijuana, and told me I should receive my card in a couple of weeks. Oh, I also had to pay a fee to the doctor and a fee to the state, the doctor fee can vary, the state fee is set. You can get the recommendation from the doctor and then file your own paperwork online with the health department, but I decided to pay the extra little bit to have the doctor’s office do the filing for me, they even took my photo for my ID. So to break down the cost, the office visit was $100, the processing fee (to have them file all my paperwork) was $20, and the state fee is $150 so the total cost to get my the card was $270. The state fee is $75 for those with a SNAP card (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
If you are interested in even more details, this link will send you to the center where I saw my prescriber. Actually it isn’t “prescribed”, it is recommended, doctors honestly don’t have enough knowledge about the efficacy of marijuana (the different strains vary in what they do, some are sedating, some are energizing, some help pain, some cause paranoia…..there is no way to actually just prescribe marijuana like you do other medications, you have to know all the different aspects of the different strains and delivery methods, therefore they really have no idea how to dose it. The center that I went to offered a 15-minute Complimentary Consultation to discuss the available types and delivery method for cannabis, and suggested strains to help with my condition. They also suggested a dosing schedule. I felt this visit too short, however, since I had already done a lot of research I didn’t need a lot of guidance (or so I thought), but I welcomed the advice on strains and dosing. The center also offers a couple of workshops, one teaches how to make edibles because it’s much cheaper to make your own, (these are an additional cost).
After receiving my card I visited a Dispensary that is located close to my house. (since then I’ve done some research on the different dispensaries in the area and I will make sure to take advantage of the best deals, it kind of blows my mind that they offer sales, I thought all the dispensaries would have the same prices and the same products, but it can vary greatly. I should note that the dispensaries are non-profit, however, some also sell paraphernalia, I don’t know if they are allowed to make a profit on that, it seems like they should.
When we arrived at the dispensary someone greeted us at the door and welcomed us in. We walked into what appeared to be a somewhat large lounge, the actual shop was in another room that had to be opened for me to go in. Stuart was not allowed in the shop with me even though I told them I needed him to hear, to compensate they had a pen and paper so we could communicate that way if needed.
A very sweet girl met me at the door and gave me a tour of the shop. She pointed out a cart that contained CBD products only and told me that anyone could come in and buy those, they simply took the cart out to the lobby and had them shop from there. I noticed that she kept pointing out the strains with the highest amount of THC, they are more expensive, so I was wary about taking her advice as to what I needed. (I have since been back to this dispensary and another and found the people I spoke with very knowledgeable and were able to really help me figure out which products to try.)
There are so many different types of delivery methods, smoking, vaping, tinctures, transdermal patches, various edibles (from cookies to hard candies), drinks, and concentrates….so much it is mind blowing. The doctor I saw recommended I use a tincture and vape. A CBD tincture 10 mg, 3 times a day, as a migraine preventative; and a CBD:THC 1:1 tincture to help me sleep. It was also suggested I vape for acute pain, since I have a dry herb vaporizer I was given the name of a few strains that would help, I was also given the strength I’d need if I wanted to use an oil vaporizer. This was a good starting point, but I have a lot more to learn. This article can give you more of an understanding of what CBD and THC are and what they do: “CBD vs THC: What’d the Difference?” (I have found the best information on Leafly.com)
In my next post I will tell all about what I’ve tried so far, and things I wish I knew before I started this journey.
****NOTE**** I admit I’m very nervous about writing this article. Please be kind to me, do not treat me as a drug seeker. I am not looking to get “high”, I simply want the pain to lessen.