Today I am going to describe the process of how to obtain your medical cannabis / aka medical marijuana ‘card’ in the state of California.
A few disclaimers
I am not a lawyer, doctor nor really a person of any importance whatsoever, so my opinion should not really be taken seriously. I really should be giving advice to anyone about anything, however, feel free to enjoy the below for entertainment purposes.
Note to the FBI or North Korea:
I have not used marijuana/cannabis within the past three (3) years, nor have I extensively used marijuana/cannabis over a substantial period of time. ( As described in your job application, so go ahead and please proceed with my job application. K, thx, bye)
The Medical Marijuana Card Misnomer
There is no such thing as a Marijuana card. What you are getting is a recommendation from a California state licensed medical doctor that given the patient’s condition that marijuana would help. And all of that is subject to the doctor / patient’s discretion and confidentiality. Read: there is ton’s of leeway for what qualifies.
Now we need get some legal background and history out of the way which is boring to probably pretty much everyone but me. Cannabis is still illegal federally so technically the FBI can bust you for having it. However, under Prop 215 in the state of California which was passed on November 6, 1996, The voters of the golden state of California voted to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The law states that it is “legal for patients and their designated primary caregivers to possess and cultivate marijuana for their personal medical use given the recommendation or approval of a California-licensed physician.” Link.
A legal gray area still given the federal laws, but one that plenty of people across California and especially up north near Humboldt are exploiting to their advantage to make plenty of other green, cold hard cash.
Now some states (Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Alaska) have voted to legalize it and others have medical legalization similar to California But I don’t have the time, patience nor desire to really write about that. Anyway, more detail here at Wikipedia (link)
Get to the point you nimrod
As stated above, you really only need a recommendation from a medical doctor in the state of California. But given ethics and all some doctors understandably don’t really want to recommend Pot to their patients. Thankfully there is a work around as there are some medical doctors who will gladly recommend Cannabis for their patients and throw ethics out the window. Kind of like the old pay for play as the Pros in the oldest industry call it (i.e. those hanging out on polk and eddy streets at 4am on a Saturday morning).
So you go to a special doctor who happens to be a medical doctor at a special clinic.
I live in San Francisco and there are no shortage of clinics to pick from. Just look at the back of the SF weekly for ads. I think the ads for the pot dispensaries, pot evaluation clinics and the ads for ‘Massage Parlors’ are probably the only reason that the SF weekly is still in print. When was the last time you read a newspaper? Maybe when you were stoned.
Back to the story, the place I ended up getting my evaluation from was Dr. Francesco Isolani’s Green Evaluations. Which so happens to be located in a record store in the Haight. The Haight being the home to the free love hippie movement. The record store being Amoeba Music. Both quite fitting actually for a cannabis clinic. Amoeba Music is a cool record shop that any music junkie can get lost in for days, but sadly due to sit and lie laws in SF, the staff will probably kick you out after they close. Located just a couple blocks from hippie hill in golden gate park where the true cannabis enthusiasts of San Francisco mingle, it really was quite a fitting location.
You will need a California ID to get your recommendation. Present it to the receptionist (she will hold on to it for the whole time you are there) and fill out four pages of paper work. Wait. Wait for a while. And then wait a little longer more. There were 6 people in front of me. I don’t think you can actually be denied for a recommendation as not one of the folks in front of me was turned down.
I learned during my 45 minute wait that the waiting room and the Doctor’s Office /medical facility if you can call it that used to be the Amoeba record’s Staff break room and also green room for visiting musicians. Some cool stories of all the graffiti and posters in the old days of the now sterile white walls of the waiting room.
But now it is a rather standard looking waiting room complete with standard office room chairs, magazines and tables. Granted the magazine selection geared towards the rolling stone and high times variety and not the Newseek or Wall Street Journal. They even had pot specific zines. Bringing it back to 1995.
The only remnants of the past use include old Fillmore venue music posters and records hung on the wall.
There were probably about two legitimate people in the waiting room that actually would medically need marijuana. One lady who chatted with the receptionist for 5 – 10 minutes about her upcoming back surgery and how the pot will help. Another older man, coincidentally, also with back pain. Too much Netflix maybe.
Everyone else seems liked they really didn’t have a true medical condition, but that’s not for me to judge but for the Doctor.
Before I went to Green evaluations. I tried to go to a spot in the mission, Priceless evaluations. Because they had an ad on the back of the SF weekly and were closer to me. But they were no way as friendly, clean or what turned out to be as memorable or enjoyable as my trip to green evaluations. Mission Priceless evaluations felt more sketch and unwelcoming.
At Green evaluations, with all the artwork, records and posters on the wall, including Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Wilson Pickett and The Beatles it was a bit more chill and ended up being a lot more entertaining.
The receptionist seemed a bit like a lost puppy looking for its owner. She knew what was going on, but acted a bit helpless and clueless which played to her favor. First impressions play an important role in life and I was not impressed at first, but with her stories and entertainment, she earned my liking.
“Oh no!!!” She exclaimed after realizing that a dude she sent to wait had not yet filled out his paperwork.
“So you’ll have to fill out the paperwork; I saw you out the corner of my eye. I can’t have you just sitting there like I forgot about you.
“You are all my family. I have to take care of my family.”
Later when an older man walked in with aforementioned back issues, he started inquiring about the process now. He said he used to try to get a card 14 years ago, but had to sign up on some list and was interrupted by Lisa as I know learned the receptionists name, replied:
“No honey. Let’s start over. No. No Record anymore. No registration with the state. 100% Doctor Patient confidentially. You have no need to worry”
“Oh, Good. “ He responded. “Well the old way felt like McCarthyism”
“No, No, No. None of that here. Genuine people are rare. Gotta survive.”
Talking about the Samsung iPad to which Lisa the receptionist used to accept credit card payments via square:
“I thought they all should have a pen!” “Oh, I came from the East Bay. Two buses and a train.”
People out here are something else. A force to be reckoned with. The people of the Haight.”
Speaking like one who may have ‘medicated’ away some brain cells, it was an entertaining way to pass the time.
After a few more patients and some good other banter between Lisa and the new patients of which I have forgotten, it was my turn to see the doctor. Dr. Desmond.
Thankfully no real physical and just a few questions.
I had tired to prepare myself to get approved, but I don’t think it really matters what condition you have.
“What condition are you here for?”
“Anxiety” was my nervous, timid answer.
“Ok, What else have you used to help with your condition?”
“Do you smoke? Drink? Other drugs?”
“Sometimes. Sometimes. No”
How often do you use cannabis? Preferred method of taking?
“How much do you weigh? How tall are you?”
A real doctor’s office would actually measure those out. But time is of the essence when there are nine ‘patients’ in the waiting room and you have to print some real green. Cash.
The only real medical type thing the doctor did was take my blood pressure. To which the response was “normal”.
After some jotting down on my patient chart, Dr Desmond sent back to Lisa.
Stamp of Approval!
A few minutes after that and $39 I was out the door with my paper recommendation. I was official and good to go to medicate my worries away.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pick up some brownies so that I can sleep better and help my anxiety.