When you stop to think about it, we really live in remarkable times. The speed in which technology has permeated our world is mind boggling. In the 1960's, Intel's co-founder Gordon Moore came up with something called Moore's Law. It was his observation computer processors would get twice as fast, and twice as small every two years. Back then it was a pretty slick idea. Now that forty years have passed and his vision became a reality, we have nano processors that have as much computing power as computers made a few years ago.
For medical marijuana patients, there has never been a better time in history (we'll check back on that statement later this year). Patients can now get their card over the internet...easily. Our friends at Presto Doctor put together a helpful guide for anyone curious getting started on having their own card in states where they or other online providers can service customers (Presto Doctor can serve California customers but is expanding into other states):
The Traditional Method
Dedicated cannabis clinics operate all over California. There is probably one in your city, or somewhere nearby. The process usually goes something like this:
- Book an appointment by calling in, or if your clinic supports walk-in visits, stop by whenever is best for you
- The receptionist will hand you a clipboard of paperwork to fill out
- Sit in the waiting room until the doctor is ready to see you. If you're lucky, they'll be running on time. More often than not, you'll wait for 30-45 minutes while the doctor finishes up appointments that are running late
- If approved for a recommendation, they will print a copy and give it to you
- Generally, you can pay extra for a plastic ID card to carry in your wallet, if you so choose
The Online Method
Nowadays, you can do the whole process via telehealth (telemedicine) 100% online, from the comfort of your own home. This is a great option if you do not have a clinic nearby, or it is harder for you to get to your local clinic. Here's how it works:
- Sign up for an account at prestodoctor.com and fill out your profile
- Schedule an appointment time that works for you (appointments are available 7 days a week)
- Complete a quick medical questionnaire all online, and upload a copy of your Photo ID
- Do a 10-15 minute video call with your scheduled doctor via your computer, cell phone, or tablet device
- Receive a digital copy of your recommendation right away via email, and get your official copy and ID card in the mail 1-3 days later
What does my card look like?
There are two forms of recommendations – the official paper copy, and a plastic ID card. Most recommendations have common attributes, although there is no official format.
At the very least, your recommendation letter should include:
- ID number
- Expiration date (recommendations are generally valid for one year)
- Your info (name, date of birth)
- Verification info (a website and/or phone number to verify your recommendation)
PrestoDoctor Recommendation and ID Card
How can I find a trustworthy doctor?
There are a lot of scams out there, as well as doctors who are just in it for the money instead of having your best interests in mind. So how can you tell if you can trust a doctor or not?
The rule of thumb is to trust your instincts. Would you be comfortable bringing your mom to this clinic? If not, consider finding another clinic. There are plenty of reputable clinics around.
Also, make sure you verify that your doctor is licensed to practice with the state medical board. You can search and verify licenses with the California Medical Board here: https://www.breeze.ca.gov/ (click on "Verify a License").
Will I be in a government database?
Absolutely not (unless you want to be and apply for it).
Huh? Why would anybody want to be in a government database for having a medical pot card?
The medical pot cards issued by doctors are not official government ID. While they do offer more protection in they eyes of the law vs having nothing at all, if you are looking for maximum legal protection and the least amount of hassle from the police in case there is an issue, you might consider getting the official Medical Marijuana ID Card (MMIC) issued by the state of California. To apply for this card, visit your county office and bring your doctor's recommendation, your drivers license or government ID card, and proof of California residency.
You will need to pay the fee and have your photo taken. Note that this program does not hold any of your private health information, only the information needed to identify you and ensure that you have a valid doctor's recommendation.
You can apply for this at your local Department of Public Health.