If you have thought about getting a medical marijuana card but didn’t know what to expect at your appointment (and beyond) this article is for you.
Getting a marijuana card can be nerve-wracking if you’ve never done it and you don’t know what to expect. I (27-year-old female, nonsmoker, nondrinker) decided to get a medical marijuana card to help with chronic lower back pain. I did extensive research to look up what to expect but realized there was nothing that answered all of the questions I had.
This article is going to take you through the process of getting a medical marijuana card for the first time. I asked the doctor a bunch of questions so you can go into your medical marijuana prescription appointment knowing things that I wish I had known before.
You’ll learn about why I decided to get a medical marijuana card (even though I don’t drink or smoke), what conditions certify you for a medical marijuana card, what medical marijuana doctors can diagnose you with on the spot, how long your medical marijuana card is good for, and how long it takes your medical marijuana card to ship. I’m hoping that this article can be as useful to you as learning this information was for me.
Let’s get to know each other a little bit better.
If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you don’t have your medical marijuana card and you’re interested in learning more. We already have that in common.
I’ve had lower back pain since I was a teenager. When I was younger, the doctors told me it was from the sports I had been playing and my posture. When I got to college, each doctor I went to told me a different story. I tried acupuncture, chiropractors, stretching and yoga, muscle relaxers, you name the ‘solution’, I’ve tried it. Every doctor told me their diagnosis was the correct one and each time I would be filled with hope… until I tested out the solution that didn’t work. The back pain would sometimes be so intense that I would have to take a break from work until the wave passed.
Finally, a friend suggested that I try to get my medical marijuana card. Perhaps instead of medication or pill acting as a bandaid to the problem, medical marijuana would help relieve some of that chronic pain by allowing my body and muscles the chance to relax. For someone who doesn’t smoke, drink or really do much else besides work and explore the outdoors (I know, I’m probably really selling you on how fun I am), one might wonder, is a medical marijuana card the right choice for my chronic pain?
There are many reasons to go with legal cannabis usage, here are 6 of them:
- Safe Products – You know these flowers and products are being cared for in a safe, state of the art facility, and regulated for potency. You won’t have to worry about any harmful additives or special surprises (not the good kind).
- Natural Treatment – Everyone is different but cannabis offers a natural way for your muscles, body, and mind to relax. Cannabis buds (flowers) are from a strain of hemp plants, which can be found in nature.
- Variety of Treatment Options – You can ingest your marijuana in whichever way is the most comfortable for you. There are salves, vape pens, edibles, pills, tinctures, prerolls, oil, wax, and much more.
- Educational Staff – The staff at any dispensary (I may be biased, but the staff at Everest is some of the best) is incredibly educated on the products they offer. You can go in, explain your symptoms and what you’re looking for. They will always answer any questions you have and give you their recommendation. Trust me when I say I stress tested the number of questions one could ask. They answered ALL of them.
- Daily Deals – I can’t speak for the other dispensaries, but I joined Everest’s email list and they offer different discounts for every day of the week. I’ve never worked with an outside cannabis consultant, but I just have a feeling that they aren’t as big on ‘Happy Hour Pricing’ as a regulated dispensary. They also offer deals on their other products, such as vape pens and tinctures.
- Better Than Pills – When I went to get treatment for my chronic pain, the suggestion was always a pain killer or muscle relaxer pill with a laundry list of side effects. Each had a warning about becoming addicted, suicidal, nauseous, depressed, drowsy, anxious, and a handful of other fun side effects. Marijuana was presented as an a la carte option. No side effects, except the ones you’ve been looking for.
- Specific Dosage – You can get super specific dosages with anything you’re looking for. You can do CBD/THC hybrid EVERYTHING. If you’re concerned about too much THC, you can get a product that has more CBD than THC for a more relaxing effect without the head or body high. (Pst. I was told to ask about custom chill pills at Everest… passing it on)
There are so many more reasons why getting your medical marijuana card is a great option but let’s move on.
I nervously made my appointment with a recommended Nurse Practitioner, Kathy. Getting an appointment was simple. I just called the number on Everest’s website, left a voicemail letting them know I was interested in getting my medical card and received a call back from 420 Connect after about 4 hours.
Once my appointment was set, I felt nervous. I felt like I was cheating the system by getting a medical marijuana card. Did I really need it?! With great power comes great responsibility… I felt like the nerdy kid sneaking into the college party. Can I get in trouble for this? Will people be able to sense that I have my card? I tried to let the nervous nerdy, straight edge kid doubts wash over me and waited not-so-patiently for my appointment.
One week later, I walked into Everest Apothecary was instantly greeted by a friendly staff member that led me over to the waiting area. Not even 5 minutes later, Nurse Kathy came to get me.
We sat down and I explained some of my symptoms, lower back pain transferring into abdominal pain so severe that it would distract me from work. I had 6 years of doctor visits and recommendations on solutions. I gave her approval to access my medical history so she was able to validate and qualify me. She explained to me that in order to qualify for a medical marijuana card, you must have chronic pain or have had at least one of the symptoms below for 3 months or more.
Here is the list of symptoms that qualify you for a medical marijuana card:
- Alzheimer’s Disease,
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS),
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Crohn’s Disease
- Damage to the Nervous Tissue of the Spinal Cord (with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity)
- Epilepsy/Seizure Disorder
- Friedreich’s Ataxia
- Hepatitis C Infection currently receiving antiviral therapy
- Hospice Care
- Huntington’s disease
- Inclusion Body Myositis
- Inflammatory autoimmune-mediated Arthritis
- Intractable Nausea/Vomiting
- Lewy Body Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Opioid Use Disorder
- Painful Peripheral Neuropathy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the only symptom that can get diagnosed during your medical marijuana appointment. What that means is that if you don’t have records that indicate you have been suffering from PTSD, you can get diagnosed in house.
- As of right now, you do not qualify if you have PTSD from COVID-19 BUT if you do have PTSD that has lasted over 3 months and has been retriggered by COVID-19, you could qualify.
- Severe Anorexia/Cachexia
- Severe Chronic Pain
- Spasmodic Torticollis (Cervical Dystonia)
- Spinal Muscular Atrophy
As she pulled my medical records, she explained the process and the medical marijuana card in more depth so I fully understood what I was getting myself into (Spoiler: It’s even better and cooler than I thought).
- Medical Marijuana is a Prescription – She started by letting me know that having a med card is like having a prescription for a medication. Your card is discreet and although they do not protect you from drug testing at a job, you get the same discretion as you would picking up medicine from CVS. The only people who know your subscription are the people who need to know, and those filling it.
- New Mexico Medical Marijuana Cards are Good for Three Years – Kind of. They used to distribute you a new card every year with your renewal, but they wanted to save on plastic. Now, your card is good for three years BUT you still need to recertify once a year. You will see your recertification dates on your card.
- You can Recertify Over Video – Recertifications don’t need to be in person anymore (I guess there are some silver linings from COVID). 420 Connect has a video option. You cannot do a video visit if you’re using them for the first time, but if you’re an existing patient you have the green light.
- All You Need to Renew Your Card is a VALID Drivers License – Seems simple enough (some people are having issues because of COVID and MVD shutdowns), but those license expirations can sneak up on you. Make sure your license is valid before going into to get your medical marijuana card.
- Once You Qualify, You ALWAYS Qualify – The state grandfather’s you in no matter how long it’s been since your card has expired. What that also means is that if you qualified because of PTSD, you don’t have to go through any past trauma again just to get recertified. You are set for life.
- Your Card Takes 30 Days on Average to Ship – I know, this one kind of sucks. You get to check out the dispensary when you go in for your appointment but then you don’t get to go back until you have your card (wamp WAMP) but note that it’s coming from the state health department so there isn’t much anyone can do to expedite that. Thankfully, you only have to do this every three years.
- Appointments Are 30 Minutes or Less – Renewal appointments are 15 minutes and first-time patient appointments are 30 minutes. You can come in and get qualified on your lunch break! In a world where going to the doctor’s office can take up an entire day, this is a well-welcomed change.
She pulled my records, printed off some paperwork that I signed that verified everything I had told her, addressed it, and sent it off. 30 minutes later, I was trying to catch a glimpse of all the products Everest had to offer on my way out. I am currently in the waiting period for my medical marijuana card but I hope to keep you updated when I receive it in the mail, when I go into the dispensary and purchase my first few items, and then when I test out Everest’s new delivery service.
Stay tuned for more of my journey into the world of medical marijuana!
If you’re interested in booking a new patient appointment with 420 Connect, contact them here.
If you’re looking to set up delivery through Everest, click here.
If you’re looking to shop online, click here.