- How do I become a medical cannabis patient?
To become a medical cannabis patient, schedule an appointment with your healthcare practitioner to see if your condition qualifies (see Qualifying Conditions).
- How do I ask my healthcare practitioner about medical cannabis?
Prepare for your appointment by writing down all your questions and concerns. Some questions to consider are:
- Would my medical condition benefit from using cannabis for medical purposes (see Qualifying Conditions)?
- What are the short- and long-term risks associated with medical cannabis?
- How should I consume medical cannabis for someone with my condition (smoking, vaporizer, edibles, tinctures, tablets, capsules, transdermal, topical, etc.)?
- Do I need to be concerned about drug-to-drug interactions with my other medications?
- I have a hard time getting around, do I qualify for a compassionate care renewal of my authorization when it's time?
- Should I consider obtaining a designated provider (care taker) who can grow or purchase my cannabis for me?
If it is determined your condition would benefit from the medical use of cannabis, your healthcare practitioner will provide you with a completed medical cannabis authorization form (see example form and form instructions for more details).
- Are there age restrictions to becoming a medical cannabis patient?
No. Healthcare practitioners may authorize the use of cannabis for any patient, regardless of age, as long as it is medically appropriate under the law and the profession's standard of care per RCW 69.51A.030.
- Where do I get a medical cannabis authorization form?
Your healthcare practitioner will give you the form during your medical appointment.
- What does a medical cannabis authorization form look like?
If your healthcare practitioner determines your medical condition would benefit from the medical use of cannabis, he/she will complete a Washington State Medical Cannabis Authorization form and print it on 8.5 x 11 inch authorization tamper-resistant paper containing the RCW 69.51A.030 logo in the bottom right corner (see example form).
If you have a designated provider (care taker), you will be required to sign the form. Your practitioner will show you where to sign.
- How long is my medical cannabis authorization good for?
Your healthcare practitioner determines the expiration date based on your treatment plan (refer to line item 12 of the form). Depending on your treatment plan, an authorization may be good for up to a year after issuance for an adult patient who is eighteen years of age or older and up to six months after issuance for a qualifying patient less than eighteen years of age - RCW 69.51A.030.
If the patient has a designated provider, the healthcare practitioner will issue two identical authorizations with the same issue and expiration dates; one for the patient and one for the designated provider, regardless if patient is a minor.
- I have a terminal condition. May I have a lifetime authorization?
No. The law requires that all adult patients have an annual exam and get their authorization renewed each year. Patients under the age of 18 must be seen by their authorizing healthcare practitioner every six months.
- What do I do with my medical cannabis authorization?
The form is yours to keep in a safe place at home. Do not mail or fax it to the Department of Health. A valid authorization allows an adult patient (age 18 and older) to grow up to four cannabis plants within their domicile (pending no further restrictions); and/or register into the Medical Cannabis Authorization Database to receive a medical cannabis card and benefits (see page 3 of form instructions for details).
- What do I do if I lost my medical cannabis authorization form?
Call your healthcare practitioner and ask for a replacement. Remember, copies of your previous authorization will not be considered valid. You must request another original form to be completed, signed by your practitioner and printed on tamper-resistant paper. The replacement form should have a new issue date, but same expiration date.
Keep in mind, if the lost authorization was close to expiring, your practitioner may want to schedule a visit for a renewed authorization instead.
- What is a designated provider?
A designated provider is a person who is twenty-one years of age or older and is the parent or guardian of a qualifying patient who is under the age of eighteen; or has been designated by the qualifying patient to purchase, provide or grow cannabis for the patient and has an authorization from the patient's healthcare practitioner. A designated provider can only serve one patient at any one time – RCW 69.51A.010(4).
- How do I obtain a designated provider?
A designated provider's role is to assist the patient with the growing of cannabis plants or purchasing of cannabis products. Patients are responsible to find someone to serve as their designated provider. Remember, a designated provider must be 21 years of age and not be a designated provider for any other patients.
Let your healthcare practitioner know that you have a designated provider at the time of your medical appointment. You will need to sign the medical cannabis authorization form and provide the full name and street address of your designated provider, regardless if they reside at the same residence.
Minor patients (under age 18) are exempt from signing the medical cannabis authorization form; however, the designated provider information will still need to be entered.
- How do I change my designated provider?
Under RCW 69.51A.010, a designated provider may only be a designated provider to one patient at a time. Patients or designated providers may choose to no longer have this relationship by completing a revocation request form and mailing it to the address listed at the top of the form. This action will disable the other person's medical cannabis card in the database.
Patients will need to call their healthcare practitioner for a new medical cannabis authorization to remove the designated provider from their form. If the patient has a new designated provider, simply provide the new name and contact information to the healthcare practitioner so they can send you a new authorization form reflecting this change.
- What is a compassionate care renewal?
After the first initial in-person physical examination and visit with your healthcare practitioner to obtain a medical cannabis authorization, your practitioner may indicate you are eligible for a compassionate care renewal if an in-person visit would cause you severe hardship. A compassionate care renewal allows a patient's medical cannabis authorization to be renewed through the use of telemedicine RCW 69.51A.030.
- How do I know if I am eligible for a compassionate care renewal?
Your healthcare practitioner will determine and indicate eligibility on your medical cannabis authorization form.
Please note, if eligible for a compassionate care renewal and you were previously registered in the state database, your designated provider may renew your database registration and card for you, without you being physically present at the store.
- How do I get a medical cannabis card?
Once the patient receives a medical cannabis authorization from their healthcare practitioner, they may call a nearby medically-endorsed store and schedule an appointment with a Certified Consultant.
The patient and designated provider (if any) must bring their medical cannabis authorization (authorization) and a state-issued photograph identification to the appointment. During the appointment, the Certified Consultant will:
- review the authorization for completeness and accuracy
- compare the information to the patient's state identification
- take a photo of the patient's face and designated provider (if any)
- enter patient information and upload the photo into the medical cannabis authorization database
- generate, print and laminate the medical cannabis card
- return the authorization, identification and medical cannabis card to the patient.
- Am I required to be entered into the state database?
Registration is voluntary for adult patients (age 18 and older); but required for minor patients (under age 18) and their designated provider (parent/legal guardian).
Note: Patients between age 18-20 will be required to register and have a medical cannabis card to be allowed to purchase products from a medically-endorsed store.
- What are the benefits for registering in the state database?
Patients who register in the state database will receive the following benefits:
- May buy and possess up to three times the current limit from any medically-endorsed retail store.
- Exempt from paying sales tax when buying products from a medically-endorsed retail store.
- May buy high-THC compliant products from a medically-endorsed retail store, where available.
- Depending on their practitioner's recommendation, may grow 6 -15 plants and possess eight ounces of usable cannabis produced from their plants within their domicile.
- May participate in a registered medical cannabis cooperative.
- Receive arrest protection if compliant with Chapter 69.51A RCW.
- How long is a medical cannabis card good for?
A medical cannabis card's expiration date is listed on the front of the card and is the same expiration date as the patient's medical cannabis authorization.
- How do I renew my medical cannabis card?
A medical cannabis card has the same expiration date as your medical cannabis authorization. To renew, you must first renew your authorization by scheduling an appointment with your current healthcare practitioner. The practitioner's contact information may be found under the "Healthcare Practitioner Information" section of your authorization form.
Once you have a renewed authorization, you may renew your card by calling a nearby medically-endorsed retail store to schedule an appointment with a certified consultant.
- Can my designated provider renew my medical cannabis card for me?
If your healthcare practitioner determined you were eligible for a compassionate care renewal, he/she would indicate this eligibility on your medical cannabis authorization form. With their authorization, the designated provider may renew your database registration and receive a renewed medical cannabis card on your behalf.
- How do I request to be removed from the database if I do not want to be registered anymore?
If you changed your mind and no longer wish to be registered in the state database, and you are an adult patient (age 18 and older), you may complete a revocation request form.
- Once completed, please mail it to the address listed on the form.
- Notify your designated provider of this request as this action will deactivate their medical cannabis card too.
Remember, by removing yourself from the state database, you will be limited to purchasing and possessing recreational amounts allowed under RCW 69.50.4013 and no longer eligible for increased amounts available to active card holding patients under RCW 69.51A.210.
- Where do I find a medical cannabis store?
Patients may use the medically-endorsed retail store list to locate a nearby store in their area. Under current regulations, a cannabis retail store may add a medical endorsement to their license. This allows them to tailor operations towards the cannabis patient community. Medically-endorsed retail stores will have a certified consultant on staff, carrying products that may be beneficial for medical use and be able to register a patient in the database.
Note: It is recommended that patients call and schedule an appointment with the Certified Consultant on staff.
- Is my medical cannabis authorization or card valid in other states?
Some states may recognize a medical cannabis authorization from Washington. Medical cannabis patients from Washington should check with other states before traveling, and should comply with the laws in those states. Healthcare practitioner authorizations, ID cards and other documentation from other states aren't valid in Washington.
- Doesn't including the patient's medical condition violate HIPAA?
No. HIPAA is violated only when a healthcare practitioner, insurance company or healthcare clearinghouse (such as a billing service) provides protected information to a third party. It's not a violation for the authorizing practitioner to give the patient his or her own information. It's not a violation for the patient to provide his or her own information to anyone.
- I am moving to Washington, can I transfer my patient status?
No. Each state has slightly different medical cannabis regulations. If you have recently moved to Washington, and you want to get a medical cannabis card, you will need to search for a new healthcare practitioner. As you begin your search, keep in mind the following:
- The Department of Health does not have a list of available practitioners.
- The practitioner must be licensed by Washington with one of the following license types:
- Medical doctor (MD) – licensed under chapter 18.71 RCW
- Physician assistant (PA) – licensed under chapter 18.71A RCW
- Osteopathic physician (DO) – licensed under chapter 18.57 RCW
- Osteopathic physician assistant (DOA) – licensed under chapter 18.57A RCW
- Naturopathic physician – licensed under chapter 18.36A RCW
- Advanced registered nurse practitioner ()– licensed under chapter 18.79 RCW
- I am visiting Washington, can I use my medical cannabis card to purchase product?
No. Washington laws do not include a reciprocity clause; therefore, if you are an out-of-state patient, you may not be afforded the same benefits or protections as a card-holding Washington cannabis patient.
Washington visitors, age 21 and older, may purchase product from any licensed cannabis retailer. If you are using cannabis for medical purposes, you may consider searching for a medically-endorsed retail store as they serve patients and may have more of the product you may be seeking.
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