A medical marijuana (MMJ) recommendation is legally required for all patients who are medicating with cannabis in California. Once a patient has a recommendation, he/she is able to access high quality medicine from collectives across the state.
To get a MMJ recommendation, you must first be evaluated by a doctor. The doctor will talk to you about your condition and help determine if medical marijuana may be a good option for your illness. They can also guide you with information about which method of ingestion and which strains are best suited for your needs.
What Medical Conditions Qualify?
Prop 215—also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996—covers patients who “would benefit from the use of marijuana in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.”
The other illness phrase was included because regulators understood that marijuana can treat many conditions. They didn’t want to prevent any patients from receiving the medicine they need by creating a list that was too narrowly defined. Cannabis has been shown to assist with a range of other illnesses, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
You don’t need to have a terminal or debilitating illness to receive a recommendation for marijuana. The law gives doctors the freedom to evaluate the suitability of marijuana for each individual patient on a case-by-case basis. If you believe that marijuana may help with any symptoms that are causing you distress, you should consult a doctor who has experience with recommending cannabis. That doctor can help you decide if cannabis is a treatment option you may want to pursue for your condition.
You Will Not Be on a List!
Many people who qualify for medical marijuana recommendations choose not to pursue treatment because they fear they will end up on a “master list” of marijuana patients. Thankfully, this list doesn’t exist. There is no consolidated database the DEA can use to conduct raids or employers can use to conduct background checks. Your patient status will remain confidential.
The record of your medical marijuana evaluation is protected under federal laws through HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), just like documents at any other doctor’s office. Releasing medical records requires patient permission, and doctor-patient confidentiality extends to the police, DMV, and employers. Therefore, your evaluation will stay private.
With a recommendation, you can receive medical marijuana through a collective, often called a dispensary. To register as a member, you will need to provide your recommendation and an ID. You will also need to complete a registration form. California law requires collectives to protect all of this information, just like any business would. A patient has never been arrested as a result of these records. Simply put, you should not be worried about joining a collective.