How Do You Get a Medical Marijuana Card?

While Arizona isn't quite

to the level of Washington and Colorado yet, our state is one of 16 (plus the District of Columbia) that offers public medical cannabis, thanks to Proposition 203's narrow passage in 2010. However, potential patients still need to go through a process to legally obtain marijuana. So where do you start?

1. So, are you eligible?

In Arizona, you can get a card for treatment of HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, ALS, cancer, Crohn's disease, glaucoma, Hepatitis C, cachexia, multiple sclerosis, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, or seizures. Recently, PTSD was added to the list, but certification for that won't begin until Jan. 1, 2015. Also, you need to be 18 or older, have an Arizona driver's license or identification card and an Arizona residential address.

2. Find someone to give you a evaluation and recommendation.

Obviously, no one is going to just take your word for it that you need treatment, so you'll need a doctor's recommendation. This can come from your primary care physician, but it might be simpler (and possibly more private) to go to a medical marijuana evaluating doctor, who can be a tradional M.D., a homeopath or a naturopath. You'll likely need medical records from the last 12 months which reflect one of the above ailments.

Your doctor will give you a state-issued Physician Certification Form and depending on where you go, may submit the paperwork to the state on your behalf. If not, you'll need to go to the Arizona Department of Health Services website (the process is only done online, so if you don't have a computer, you'll need to find one to use) and submit the required paperwork. And yes, all of these services come with a cost, including the state fee of $150, (although if you qualify for the state's food stamp program (SNAP), you can pay $75.)

3. Wait for your card.

Should only take a few weeks, but your card will come in the mail. You can also check your status on the Arizona Department of Health Services website.

4. Get some marijuana.

There are essentially four ways to legally obtain marijuana once you have your card. You can grow your own if you reside 25 miles from a dispensary, growing up to 12 plants. You can have a caregiver grow and supply you as a patient. Also, patients can give (not sell!) marijuana to other patients. The simplest, probably, and most prevelant manner at this point is to go to a dispensary, which are located all over town.

Good luck!

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