Medical Cannabis

Program Overview

The Cannabis Patient Protection Act (SB 5052) (PDF) passed in April of 2015 and went into full effect on July 1, 2016. SB 5052 creates strict regulations for cannabis producers, processors and stores that want to sell to patients. Under the act, the Department of Health is directed to adopt rules with a program scope focused on three main areas:

  • Product compliance: Standards for products that may be beneficial for medical use.
  • A Medical Cannabis Authorization Database and administration and maintenance of the medical database.
  • Training and certification of medical cannabis consultants: Licensing and regulation of the medical cannabis consultant certificate.

Program Updates

The Department of Health is dedicated to protecting access for patients with qualifying conditions and ensuring products are safe, quality tested and accurately labeled. Below we highlight programmatic updates relating to legislation, rules, and policies.

2023 Newsletter and Highlights

The Department of Health provides this quarterly communication to focus on topics relevant to the Medical Cannabis Authorization Database Registry and Program Information.

Fall 2023

Program Updates

  • Medical Cannabis Program Website Updates: In an effort to improve webpage navigation, we'll be restructuring and adding information to our Medical Cannabis | Washington State Department of Health webpage. We hope these changes make our website more user-friendly and easier to access from mobile browsers. The changes will occur shortly!
  • Rulemaking on Chapter 246-70 WAC Product Compliance. We have opened rulemaking to consider the following:
    • Changing the word "marijuana" to "cannabis" to implement a new law.
    • Align quality assurance and control with 2022 WSLCB rule changes.
    • Consider changes for compliant cannabis product requirements.
    • Consider improvements to compliant product labeling and logos
  • In September 2023, we held the first rulemaking workshop with interested parties to gather ideas for how to update the rule. We are evaluating ideas and drafting language to discuss at the next workshop, which we hope to convene in the next couple of months.
  • Upgrading Medical Cannabis Database Registry: The Department has selected a new vendor to create, administer and maintain a secure and confidential medical cannabis authorization registry, expected in 2025.

In April 2023, we sent a survey to collect your feedback and suggestions on how to improve the database. We are using ideas you shared in the development of the new registry. More to come!

Program Resources and Reminders

  • Cannabis authorization form and Department seal. When printing an authorization form, healthcare providers do not need to print a separate seal because it is not a prescription. You are able to print the authorization form without a pharmacy seal since it prints on the authorization form already (PDF).

Summer 2023

Program Updates and Resources 

Rulemaking 

  • Chapter 246-70 WAC CR101 Rulemaking. The Medical Cannabis Program is considering rulemaking regarding chapter 246-70 WAC - Marijuana (Cannabis) Product Compliance. A CR101 was filed as WSR 22-23-001 on November 2nd, 2022. Additional information regarding the rulemaking process and upcoming interested party meetings will be provided shortly. The purpose for this rule filing includes:
    • Technical changes to replace the word marijuana with cannabis
    • Align quality assurance and control with WSLCB rule changes
    • Consider updates to compliant cannabis product requirements
    • Consider changes to compliant product labeling and logos

Spring 2023

Program Updates and Resources 

  • Medical Cannabis Program Website Updates: In an effort to improve webpage navigation, we'll be restructuring and adding information to our Medical Cannabis | Washington State Department of Health webpage. We hope these changes make our website more user-friendly and easier to access from mobile browsers. The changes will occur over the next few months.
  • Cannabis retailers with a medical endorsement are subject to Washington taxes administered by the Department of Revenue. WSLCB recently published an article with insight on this topic on its webpage. Need more tax resources? View DOR's Cannabis Retailers Fact Sheet (PDF).
  • Virtual Authorization Practices in accordance with RCW 69.51A.030. In order to authorize for the medical use of cannabis, the health care professional must:
    • Have a documented relationship with the patient.
    • Complete an initial in-person physical examination of the patient.
    • Renewal of patient authorizations may be conducted via telehealth if the healthcare provider identifies as a compassionate care renewal RCW 69.51A.030(2)(c)(iii).

Note: A medical cannabis authorization may be good for up to one year after issuance for an adult patient (age 18 and older) and up to six months after issuance for a minor qualifying patient (under age 18) - RCW 69.51A.030.

Current Rulemaking

Chapter 246-70 WAC CR101 Rulemaking. The Medical Cannabis Program is considering rulemaking regarding Chapter 246-70 WAC- Marijuana (Cannabis) Product Compliance. A CR101 was filed as WSR 22-23-001 on November 2nd, 2022 and is still under review. The purpose for this rule filing includes:

  • Technical changes to replace the word marijuana with cannabis
  • Align quality assurance and control with WSLCB rule changes
  • Review the classifications for compliant cannabis product
  • Review compliant product labels
2022 Newsletter and Highlights

The Department of Health provides this quarterly communication to focus on topics relevant to the Medical Cannabis Authorization Database Registry and Program Information. 

Fall 2022

Rule Notifications and Updates

Notification of CR101 Rulemaking. The Medical Cannabis Program is considering rulemaking regarding Chapter 246-70 WAC- Marijuana (Cannabis) Product Compliance. A CR101 was filed as WSR 22-23-001 (PDF) on November 2nd, 2022. The purpose for this rule filing includes:

  • Technical changes to replace the word marijuana with cannabis
  • Aligning quality assurance and control with WSLCB rule changes
  • Review of the classifications for compliant cannabis product
  • Review of compliant product labels

If you have any questions or need additional information, please email us.

Expedited Rule Making Chapters 246-71 WAC, Medical Cannabis Authorization database and 246-72 WAC, Medical Cannabis Consultant Certificate. The WSR-22-18-086 (PDF) became effective November 7, 2022. This rule change replaces the word “marijuana” with “cannabis” in response to passage of Second Substitute House Bill 1210. 

Washington state announces end to remaining COVID-19 emergency orders. As of October 31, 2022, Medical Cannabis Consultants are no longer mandated by emergency order to be vaccinated. However, individual businesses may still require this as a condition of employment.

Program Updates and Resources for Consultants and Retailers. Upgrading Medical Cannabis Database Registry: RCW 69.51 A mandated the Department of Health to hire a contractor to create, administer and maintain a secure and confidential medical cannabis authorization database. We would like to hear your ideas and suggestions about how to improve the medical cannabis registry. Please click on the survey link to provide your feedback. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us!

Summer 2022

Certified Consultants

Chapter 246-72 WAC Rule Amendments Adopted: The Department of Health adopted amendments to Chapter 246-72 WAC, Medical Marijuana Consultant Certificate under legislative authority RCW 69.51A.290. The amendments became effective in June 2022 and added clarification to medical marijuana training program requirements. A minimum of five hours of instruction on Washington state laws and rules relating to the following topics:

  • Qualifying patient and designated provider cannabis home grow laws.
  • Patient and designated provider cannabis purchase and possession limits.
  • Pesticide use on cannabis products
  • The medical cannabis authorization process.
  • Cannabis product compliance, quality assurance testing, and labeling requirements for recreational and compliant cannabis products, including pesticide labeling.

Important: This rule change also adds a requirement for all consultants at time of renewal to complete a 2 hour department-led video training on medical cannabis. Be sure to complete the survey after you watch the video to receive confirmation that you have met the requirement. For additional information, visit our website for an FAQ regarding this rule change.

Policy and Legislation

  • Emergency rule update: In response to the challenges faced under the pandemic, the Department filed an emergency rule to suspend the skills demonstration portion of the CPR requirement for new and renewing certified consultants. The emergency rule was granted one final extension and expires on August 16th, 2022. This means that after August 16th, the in-person skills demonstration portion will be required again for new and renewing certified consultants.
  • Passing of Second Substitute House Bill 1210. This year, legislature passed SSHB 1210. This bill changes the term “marijuana” to “cannabis” throughout RCW and state agency cannabis programs. The department will be updating resources, publications, program web pages and rules to reflect this terminology change in the next few months. 

Spring 2022

Policy and Legislation

  • Emergency rule update. In response to the challenges faced under the pandemic, the Department filed an emergency rule and policy statement to suspend the skills demonstration portion of the CPR requirement for new and renewing certified consultants. These rules have been extended and will now expire August 2022. This means that after August 2022, the in-person skills demonstration portion will be required again for new and renewing certified consultants.
  • The Department of Health has opened chapter 246-72 WAC - Medical Marijuana Consultant Certification rules to consider amendments that would enhance and clarify training requirements and practice parameters of a medical marijuana certified consultant. A CR102 was filed on 01/14/2022 under WSR 22-03-054 (PDF).The public hearing was held on February 22, 2022.
    2021 Newsletter and Highlights

    The Department of Health provides this quarterly communication to focus on topics relevant to the Medical Cannabis Authorization Database Registry and Program Information. 

    Fall 2021

    Certified Consultants

    • What's the deal with question 10 on the authorization form? If a patient comes in to renew their recognition card, but Question 10 of their form is marked "YES" indicating the patient is eligible for compassionate care renewal, a certified consultant may proceed with a standard renewal following the process outlined in WAC 246-71-020 and WAC 246-71-030. Please be aware, compassionate care renewal is an available option for patients if indicated by their healthcare practitioner, but it is not a requirement for the patient to take advantage of this type of renewal.
    • Is there an exception for medical marijuana patients driving under the influence of marijuana? No. According to RCW 69.51A.060(8) no person shall be entitled to claim the protection from arrest and prosecution under RCW 69.51A.040 or the affirmative defense under RCW 69.51A.043 for engaging in the medical use of marijuana in a way that endangers the health or well-being of any person through the use of a motorized vehicle on a street, road, or highway.
    • Covid-19 vaccination requirement. The Medical Marijuana Program has received several inquiries about the Covid-19 vaccination requirement and if medical marijuana consultants are included in the vaccination mandate. The proclamation issued by Governor Inslee (21-14)(PDF) applies to individuals holding a license, certification or registration from the Washington State Department of Health, who are actively practicing or providing services to people. This means that medical marijuana consultants are included in the vaccine mandate and must be fully vaccinated by October 18, 2021.

    Policy and Legislation

    • Cannabis Science Task Force. House Bill 2052, the bill that transfers laboratory accreditation to the Washington State Department of Ecology, requires a series of actions to bolster the existing program. One of those actions was to form the Cannabis Science Task Force. The task force has been conducting pubic steering committee meetings since 2018.
    • Emergency rule update. In response to the challenges faced under the pandemic, the Department filed an emergency rule and policy statement to suspend the skills demonstration portion of the CPR requirement for new and renewing certified consultants. These rules have been extended and will now expire December 18th 2021. This means that after December 18th, the in-person skills demonstration portion will be required again for new and renewing certified consultants.

    Summer 2021

    Retail Store Owners and Staff

    • What does it mean to be a medically endorsed cannabis retailer? Check out our new guide designed to help cannabis retailers, medically endorsed cannabis retailers, budtenders, consultants, and cannabis patients learn what a medical endorsement is, how to apply for a medical endorsement and then how to set up your store with the endorsement so you are ready to serve the patient community.  A Marijuana Retailer's Guide to the Medical Marijuana Endorsement (PDF).

    Certified Consultants

    • How do I change my name on my credential? Mail, email or fax a copy of your divorce decree, certified marriage certificate, or court order showing your name change to the Customer Service Office.  You will not be sent a credential showing your new name until your next renewal has been processed. You may also include this request when submitting your renewal by mail or in person. If you plan on renewing online, we must have your current name in our system prior to renewal. We will print your renewed credential with the same we have on file at the time of renewal.

    Policy and Legislation

    • Cannabis Science Task Force. House Bill 2052, the bill that transfers accreditation to the Washington State Department of Ecology, requires a series of actions to bolster the existing program. One of those actions was to form the Cannabis Science Task Force. The task force has been conducting pubic steering committee meetings since 2018.
    • Emergency rule update. In response to the challenges faced under the pandemic, the Department filed an emergency rule and policy statement to suspend the skills demonstration portion of the CPR requirement for new and renewing certified consultants. These rules will expire August 23rd 2021. This means that after August 23rd, the in-person skills demonstration portion will be required again for new and renewing certified consultants.

    Spring 2021

    Certified Consultants

    • Why can't I find my patient's healthcare practitioner's license in the medical marijuana authorization database? They may not have an active license. Check a practitioner's license status with our provider credential search tool. The practitioner's license type may not be allowed to issue authorizations under RCW.69.51A. Who Can Authorize :: Washington State Department of Health’

    Policy and Legislation

    • Cannabis Science Task Force. House Bill 2052, the bill that transfers accreditation to us, requires a series of actions to bolster the existing program. One of those actions is the formation of the Cannabis Science Task Force.  
    • Emergency rule extended. In response to the challenges faced under the pandemic, the Department filed an emergency rule and policy statement to suspend the skills demonstration portion of the CPR requirement for new and renewing certified consultants.

    Winter 2021

    Policy and Legislation

    • Cannabis Science Task Force. House Bill 2052, the bill that transfers accreditation to us, requires a series of actions to bolster the existing program. One of those actions is the formation of the Cannabis Science Task Force. 
    • Emergency rule extended. In response to the challenges faced under the pandemic, the Department filed an emergency rule and policy statement to suspend the skills demonstration portion of the CPR requirement for new and renewing certified consultants.
    2020 Newsletter and Highlights
    The Department of Health provides this quarterly communication to focus on topics relevant to the Medical Cannabis Authorization Database Registry and Program Information.

    Winter 2020

    • Marijuana retailer is not to charge sales tax on the $1 recognition card fee. According to a new fact sheet (PDF) distributed by the Department of Revenue, the marijuana retailer is not to charge sales tax on the $1 medical marijuana recognition card fee.
    • How do I document sales tax exemptions? Marijuana retailers with medical endorsement must keep records and documents that establish exemption eligibility (WAC 458-20-254). For guidance on how to document sales tax exemption purchases from cardholding patient's, please refer to the Department of Revenue's Special Notice: Sales and use tax exemption for marijuana retailers with a medical endorsement on page 3.
    • 20-hour state-approved training programs. To apply for a Medical Marijuana Consultant credential, regulations require the applicant to complete a 20-hour course through a state-approved training program. There are currently three training programs to choose from as listed on the program's Training Program website. Applicants who complete a program not approved by the state, will not be issued a credential by the Department of Health until they complete an approved 20-hour course. It is important to understand, WAC 246-72-020 does not apply to the 10-hour continuing education requirement to renew a credential. Although the three state-approved training program's offer continuing education courses, the applicant is not required to complete a 10-hour continuing education course through a state-approved training program (see Medical Marijuana Continuing Education Requirements webpage to learn more).

    Spring 2020

    • Rules in progress: The Department of Health (department) has opened chapter 246-72 WAC - Medical Marijuana Consultant Certification rules to consider amendments.  
    • Questions regarding hemp/CBD products? The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board has guidance available for marijuana licensees that may answer your questions about whether or not you can sell hemp or CBD products within your store.
    • Medically-endorsed marijuana retailer is not to charge sales tax on the $1 recognition card fee. According to a new fact sheet distributed by the Department of Revenue, the marijuana retailer is not to charge sales tax on the $1 medical marijuana recognition card fee - see Updated Fact Sheet.
    • How does a medically-endorsed marijuana retailer document sales tax exemptions? Marijuana retailers with medical endorsement must keep records and documents that establish exemption eligibility (WAC 458-20-254). For guidance on how to document sales tax exemption purchases from cardholding patient's, please refer to the Department of Revenue's Special Notice: Sales and use tax exemption for marijuana retailers with a medical endorsement on page 3.

    Fall 2020

    Certified Consultants

    • Need a CPR card, but can't find an in-person course? Good news! To help applicants move through the application process, the department has filed an emergency rule suspending the skills demonstration portion of the CPR requirement. The department will accept a CPR card from any online course that includes a written online exam to test knowledge.

    Policy and Legislation

    • What is the Cannabis Science Task Force? In 2019, the Legislature passed a bill that transfers cannabis lab accreditation from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board to the Department of Ecology by 2024. Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 2052 into law requiring the establishment of a task force consisting of scientists who would set the groundwork for this effort. 
    • Medical marijuana consultant certification rules are open for amendment considerations. The department has opened chapter 246-72 WAC - Medical Marijuana Consultant Certification rules to consider amendments that would enhance and clarify training requirements and practice parameters of a certified consultant. Filed on 2/25/2020 under WSR 20-06-027.
    2019 Newsletter and Highlights

    The Department of Health provides this quarterly communication to focus on topics relevant to the Medical Cannabis Authorization Database Registry and Program Information. 

    Fall 2019

    • New law to help patients renew their registration in the database Effective July 28, 2019. House Bill 1094 (PDF) established compassionate care renewals. A patient renewing under compassionate care, is exempt from the photograph requirement of the recognition card creation process. In response, the Department has:
    • Modified database functionality. The system now supports two types of renewals: 1) a standard renewal which requires the patient to be physically present at the store for the photograph; and, 2) a compassionate care renewal which exempts the patient from the photograph requirement. Self-guided training is available now: How do I renew a patient or designated provider's recognition card? (PDF)
    • Revised the Medical Marijuana Authorization Form. A healthcare practitioner who determines their patient would suffer severe hardship can now indicate eligibility on the patient's authorization form. This is an indicator to the certified consultant which type of renewal to process (standard or compassionate care). The form requirements remain the same (complete, signed and printed on tamper-resistant paper containing the RCW 69.51A.030 logo in the bottom right corner). Learn more...
    • Recognition card fee invoices have been mailed. Under RCW 69.51A.230, the Department must charge a one dollar fee for each initial and renewal recognition card issued by a marijuana retailer with a medical marijuana endorsement. If you did not receive an invoice and you know your store has issued recognition cards, please request a copy or confirm the mailing address we have on file by contacting the program at medicalmarijuana@doh.wa.gov or 360-236-4819 (option 1).
    • New publication available. The Department of Health recently created a new brochure that outlines basic marijuana laws - A Consumer Guide: Washington State Laws (PDF). Retail stores may print and distribute to customers. Now available in Spanish!

    Winter 2019

    Current Topic

    • What are the roles and responsibilities of database users? There are four different user roles, each offering various access levels that are intended to protect confidential information and promote account security. As a database user, it is important to understand these roles and responsibilities.

    Please remember, all users are required to:

    • keep their user accounts active by logging in once every 30 days.
    • protect their user name and password

    The four access levels are defined below:

    Master User. Each store account requires a master user for it to be afforded the proper system security protections.

    • Role: A master user is an owner or interested party to the business license and has the highest access level to the store account. This means they can claim or remove a store account, add/remove employees, and grant/remove delegate permissions.
    • Responsibilities:  Master users are responsible for all activities that occur under their store license, including who has access, cards being created under their store license and ensuring proper payment is remitted for recognition card fee invoices. 
    • Delegate: The Master user may provide an employee with delegate permissions. Each store can have multiple delegates who are typically a lead worker or store manager.
    • Role: A person with delegate permissions are provided extended access to allow them to add/remove employees from the store account and have the ability to perform the quarterly employee confirmation process on the master user's behalf.
    • Responsibility: Delegates are usually responsible for the day-to-day management of the store account, making sure employees log in once every 30 days to keep their accounts active, ensuring past employees no longer have access, and providing database training and access to new employees.

    Certified Consultant with active credentials. Certified consultants that have an active credential can only provide consulting services when employed at a licensed medically-endorsed store.

    • Role: A person with delegate permissions are provided extended access to allow them to add/remove employees from the store account and have the ability to perform the quarterly confirmation process for the master user.
    • Responsibility: Delegates are usually responsible for the day-to-day management of the store account, making sure employees log in once every 30 days to keep their accounts active, ensuring past employees no longer have access, and providing access to and training for new employees.

    Store employee: Any employee that works at a licensed medically-endorsed store can register and use the medical marijuana authorization database, but will only be able to use the system if linked to a store account.

    • Role: A store employee obtains basic access to the system when the store's master user or delegate has linked the employee's user account to their store. Basic access allows store employees the ability to verify a qualifying patient's recognition card during the sale process.
    • Responsibility: Any store employee may assist qualifying patients with a purchase and use the medical marijuana authorization database to validate the patient's recognition card.

    Store Administration

    • Medically-endorsed store list available. The medically-endorsed store list intends to provide both patients and healthcare practitioners with a resource pointing them to stores that currently hold a medical endorsement and are actively using the medical marijuana authorization database to create and issue marijuana recognition cards. The list contains the store name, phone number, location and link to the store's website. Please review the store list to confirm the information and web link for your store is accurate. Send any changes or updates to the program at medicalmarijuana@doh.wa.gov.
    • Quarterly Employee Confirmation Process. The quarterly confirmation process is a system security process that provides protection for store accounts. If this function is not performed before the due date, the database store account will be deactivated and all users are removed from the store account. This process is meant to protect your store account from misuse by past employees who are not removed upon termination of employment. It is the owner's responsibility to ensure the task is performed before the due date to prevent deactivation.
    Data and Statistics

    Updated November 2023

    The following statistics are reported by the medical cannabis database administrator and the agency's credentialing office.

    Recognition Cards Created from the Database

    Total Cards Created: 122,939
    Cards Created in 2023: 6,368

    Sum of Medical Marijuana Cards issued by year

    * Numbers account for each card generated from the database (initial, renewal, replacement, and corrections) and includes both patient and designated providers. 
    * System went live in July 1, 2016. With the exception of 2016, all years contain four quarters of data.

     

    Medical Cannabis Certified Consultants with Active Credential

    • Total applications received to date: 2,611
    • Certified consultants with an active credential: 444

    Licensed Cannabis Retail Stores with Medical Endorsement

    • Total number of medically-endorsed stores: 234 out of 471** licensed. Of all licensed cannabis retailers, 49% hold a medical endorsement.
    • Total Number of medically-endorsed stores that have issued a card in the last quarter: 151

    Contact and Connect

    Contact information and resources

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