“Is it hard to go through the process?”
This was the first question many of my peers asked me when they learned that I acquired my NJ Medical Marijuana patient card. In this article, I’m going to outline the process that helped me get the recommendation that I needed to get enrolled. I believe every individual’s experience will be unique. It begins with an actual need. I hear often that people think they need the medicine for several reasons. The first thing to figure out before anything is what you think cannabis can help you with. Regardless of what your specific needs are, focus on just one. This way it will be easier to drive your medical process. It would be great if your doctor was pro-cannabis, as this will allow you to deal with someone who already knows you, and some place where you have documented medical history. Sadly, many doctors are still not on board with cannabis as an alternative treatment so you will need to seek a pro-cannabis doctor.
Once you have your doctor’s office and your reason for visiting sorted out, you will explain to your doctor the issues you are having and your interest in enrolling in the NJ Medical Marijuana Program. In order for a doctor to make a recommendation under current laws, they need to have a recorded 4 visits with the patient, so count on getting familiar with your new medical team. Remember that cannabis is considered to be an alternative treatment, which means that you will need to try other medical remedies for your ailment. For me, this included chiropractic and physical therapy, as well as pain and inflammation medication. The process was thorough, and could be expensive depending on your insurance and some other factors. It is made this way to weed out the people who are not necessarily patients, but consumers looking for a safe way to get some flower.
After you have met the requirements and your medical records have proven you are indeed a patient that would benefit from the use of marijuana, your doctor will then recommend you to the State of NJ as a potential medical marijuana patient. I almost forgot to mention that you would have to comply with a urine test the day of your visit right before the doctor submits your recommendation. This was a surprise to me, as I was not indicated in anyway to prepare for such test. Don’t worry about THC showing in your system because if this would prevent you from enrolling, then I wouldn’t have had any chance at all. The test is looking for un-prescribed opioid medication, among other illegal drugs. Luckily, cannabis use is not frowned upon in this specific sample. The doctor can recommend you up to 2 ounces on a 30-day basis. They will require following up with you regarding your consumption and reaction. At the time of writing this article, I haven’t yet had my follow up meeting.
Notice how I continue to use the term of “recommending,” because it is important to note that the doctor cannot prescribe you marijuana. The doctor can simply provide a recommendation to the state, which will have to be reviewed and approved in order for you to move forward in your enrollment. Once you receive your approval, you will be prompted to pay the enrollment fee, which is $100, and significantly less for veteran applicants. The expansion of the NJ MMP has introduced additional qualifying conditions such as chronic pain and anxiety. This was a significant impact for the medical marijuana program in NJ because these conditions are debatably less severe as the previous list of conditions. The full list can be found on Leafly or The State of NJ Dept. of Health website.
Join us at the next Cannabis in JC event: The Business of Science and Research on September 25th at 7PM at Zeppelin Hall. Get your tickets!