In states where cannabis is legal, a person can’t simply walk into a dispensary and buy marijuana. To do so, the person needs two things: a qualifying condition and a recommendation from a doctor.
What conditions qualify a person to purchase cannabis?
Each state that has legalized marijuana for medicinal use has different rules about what conditions qualify for treatment. This list is not all-inclusive, but it covers the conditions that are generally consistent across most states that have legalized cannabis:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/Lou Gehrig’s Disease
- Appetite loss
- Chronic or debilitating pain
- Crohn’s disease
- Eating disorders
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Severe nausea
- Wasting syndrome
Some states allow for treatment of autism and even schizophrenia. Others allow use when the patient has any terminal disease or illness. Most allow use in cases that may not fit the state’s list, but are causing chronic debilitating pain or muscle spasms.
How does a patient get cannabis?
If a person has one of these conditions, he or she needs to go to their doctor and have that doctor issue a “recommendation” for treatment of the condition with cannabis. In some states, the person then can use this recommendation to obtain a cannabis ID card; in others the recommendation is enough to enter a cannabis dispensary. The patient then chooses which products in the dispensary they want to buy to treat their condition. Unlike a doctor’s prescription for a specific drug with pharmaceuticals, the doctor's recommendation with cannabis does not specify; it only allows the person access to cannabis.