Medical marijuana remains a contentious subject for many, but the benefits of the plant can no longer be denied. Twenty-eight states have now legalized the medical use of marijuana, including most recently Arkansas, North Dakota, Montana and Florida, who all passed medical use amendments during the 2016 election. Most of these states won’t see prescriptions being issued until well into 2017, but the first major hurdle has been passed in more than half of the states in the country.

Three things you need

Anyone seeking a medical marijuana prescription for any of the qualifying conditions will need three things, regardless of what state they reside in.

  1. Proof of residence: Patients will need to provide proof they are a resident of a medical marijuana state.
  2. A qualifying condition: Conditions that qualify for the use of medical marijuana vary greatly from state to state.
  3. Documentation from a doctor: Finally, patients will be required to receive a prescription from at least one medical professional.

Once you have all three of these things, you will be able to pick up a prescription at a state-run marijuana dispensary. Now that you know what you need, the question remains: What conditions qualify for a prescription of medical marijuana?

Qualifying conditions

The biggest question for most people now is which medical conditions will actually qualify for a medical marijuana prescription. The qualifying conditions for a medical marijuana prescription depend greatly on the state in which you reside.

The most common conditions, meaning those that are considered qualifying in the majority of medical marijuana states, include:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Cachexia, or Wasting Syndrome, often a side effect of HIV/AIDS and cancer
  • Epilepsy/seizures
  • ALS/ Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • PTSD
  • Hepatitis C

However, this is just a small sample of the possible qualifying conditions, depending on where you live in the U.S. Some states, like Louisiana, Missouri and Mississippi, are currently restricting medical marijuana use to seizure patients.  Others, such as Illinois, include a great variety of conditions such as fibromyalgia, lupus, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and Parkinson’s disease.

Finally, some states like Massachusetts provide basic guidelines for the qualifying conditions but also leave it up to the physician to determine if there is another debilitating condition that could benefit from the use of medical marijuana.

There are tools available online to help you determine your eligibility for a medical marijuana prescription, depending on the state where you currently reside.

The best way to determine if you qualify for medical marijuana use is to visit your state’s individual website. As we mentioned before, the qualifying conditions do vary sometimes drastically from state to state, so it’s important to verify your state’s specific qualifications.

Other things to know

What else do you need to know before approaching your doctor about a medical marijuana prescription? If you do have a qualifying condition, there are still a few questions left to ask, including:

  • What type of medical marijuana is available? Does your state permit the use of cannabis oil, edibles, smokeable cannabis or concentrates? Some states only allow low-THC oil for medical marijuana treatments, so it’s important to know what is available in your state.
  • Where can medical marijuana be purchased? Medical marijuana will mostly be available in state-licensed dispensaries, which will be located around the state. Just like the qualifying conditions, the dispensary locations will vary from state to state, so it’s important to check with your state’s medical marijuana office.
  • Does your current doctor support the use of medical marijuana? The topic of marijuana is a hot-button issue for a lot of people, and there are more than a few medical professionals who do not support the use of the substance, legalized or not. If your doctor doesn’t support the use of medical marijuana, it may be time to switch to a provider that does offer the support that you need.
  • Does your state offer recreational marijuana as well? If so, a prescription for medical marijuana might exempt you from some of the taxes placed on the sales of marijuana for recreational use. Colorado is a prime example of this. While medical marijuana sales do fall under the 2.9% state sales tax, it is exempt from the state’s 10% marijuana sales tax.

More and more information will become available as states across the country pass legislation to legalize the medical use of marijuana in its many forms. The information we’ve gathered here for you is a good place to start, but if you’ve got any questions we haven’t addressed, the best thing you can do is contact the department in your state that handles the regulation and sale of marijuana to get state specific answers.

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