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Should I get a Medical Marijuana Card?
If you’re not already a cannabis consumer and don’t intend to become one, then a medical marijuana card is not necessarily something you need. However, if you are a consumer—even an occasional one—or if you plan to become a cannabis consumer, you should strongly consider getting a medical marijuana card.
Medical marijuana cards can offer consumers a variety of benefits and protections depending on local laws.
Is Medical Marijuana Legal?
Research has shown that cannabis may improve the symptoms of various health conditions.
Due to this, acceptance of cannabis has grown spurring the development of legal medical marijuana programs across the country and around the world. In order for a patient to participate, they have to apply and be accepted into their regional medical marijuana program.
In most states, a medical marijuana card does not necessarily mean the individual cannot be arrested for possessing cannabis, but many police officers are sympathetic to legal cannabis patients. Nonetheless, there have been issues surrounding the education and awareness of cannabis laws in some police departments. In most areas, legal medical marijuana programs offer an affirmative defense which means that in the case of arrest, the individual will have a solid path towards having the charges dismissed (as long as they follow the rules laid out by the program).
Can a Doctor Prescribe Medical Marijuana?
Federally, a doctor cannot officially “prescribe” cannabis because cannabis is listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Instead, regional cannabis programs are designed so doctors provide an official “recommendation for cannabis” and then patients can obtain a license which allows them to obtain and possess medicinal cannabis.
Who Can Get a Medical Marijuana Card?
The requirements to obtain a medical marijuana card varies from state to state. In some regions, physicians are free to recommend cannabis to any patient despite their diagnosis. This is the way all programs should be. Unfortunately, many other areas require patients to have been diagnosed with specific qualifying conditions. These restrictions mean many patients who might benefit from medical cannabis, don’t qualify for access. Patients should research local laws to see if they qualify under their regional program.
5 Reasons You Should Get a Medical Marijuana Card
As we review the benefits of having a medical marijuana card, keep in mind that laws differ from state to state. Some state laws offer significant protections while others offer only some of these benefits. Be sure to review the laws specific to your local region before assuming protection.
1. Protection Against DUIs
In most areas, any non-medical consumer who has THC metabolites in their system, can be charged with a DUI. What makes this challenging is that THC metabolites do not necessarily indicate intoxication. THC metabolites can be found in the body for weeks to months after consumption.
Many regional cannabis programs protect legal patients from being prosecuted for a DUI based solely on a drug test. Keep in mind that your cannabis card might only protect you in the state you reside, if you drive in another state, you may not be protected.
2. Job Protections
Even in areas that have legalized recreational cannabis use, the casual consumer can still lose their jobs if they fail a drug test. Again, because THC metabolites stay in the system for so long, it’s easy for a consumer to test positive.
Some regional laws, like in NJ for example, protect licensed cannabis patients from being fired based solely on a positive drug test.
3. Custody Protections
This is a really important one. As ridiculous as it is, in many areas, a positive drug test can be enough to have children taken away. Parents need to be especially cautious about consuming cannabis. One of the most dangerous aspects of cannabis is the law.
Parents should keep in mind, cannabis use and even medical marijuana use can be used as fodder in a contentious custody quarrel. However, most courts are sympathetic to cannabis patients. Some state laws explicitly protect the custody rights of legal medical marijuana patients and/or the parents/caregivers of pediatric cannabis patients.
It’s very important for parents to be educated about the laws and about the benefits of medical marijuana so that they can help educate others. It’s also helpful for parents to be able to show that they are serious about protecting their children. The simple act of keeping medical marijuana locked up can be a helpful way to show serious intent.
4. Grow Your Own Rights
Some of the best cannabis programs include protections for patients to grow their own medicine at home. Growing their own medicine offers the patient the ability to control quality and produce more affordable medication. It also allows consistent access to the cultivars a patient needs.
Every strain of cannabis can cause a different physical reaction. So one strain might alleviate symptoms, while another cultivar has no impact. In many areas, it can be difficult to find consistent access to the cultivars you need.
Many states limit the number of plants a patient is allowed to grow so be sure to check local regulations before planting a garden. Sadly some states don’t allow home cultivation at all.
5. Access to Regulated, Tested Cannabis Products
One of the most important reasons to get a cannabis card is to access regulated, tested cannabis products. Products purchased from the illicit market are not tested for pesticides, toxins, or heavy metals. They are not tested for cannabinoid or terpene content which makes dosing completely unreliable. Products on the illegal market can easily be contaminated.
Purchasing cannabis products from a legal dispensary means you’re getting regulated products that have been tested. Legal products are labeled with the specific dose so patients know exactly what they’re consuming.
There are many reasons to consider becoming a cannabis consumer. A legal medical marijuana card can help protect consumers from unjust laws. All cannabis consumers should strongly consider getting a legal medical marijuana card if it’s available in their region.