In Growing Marijuana in Washington – WA Cannabis State Laws (2021) we gave a brief overview on how Washington state residents can apply to their state’s medical marijuana program. Recreational marijuana has been legal in the Evergreen State for quite some time now but if you are a patient with a debilitating condition, there are a few reasons that might make you want to register for a medical marijuana card.
- Overview of Medical Marijuana in Washington
- Why should you get a marijuana card in Washington
- How to get a medical marijuana card in Washington
- Frequently Asked Questions on Getting a Washington Medical Marijuana Card
Overview of Medical Marijuana in Washington
In 1998, Washington voters approved I-692 which decriminalized marijuana in the state. The initiative narrowly allowed doctors to recommend marijuana to patients with debilitating and terminal illnesses. It also allowed patients to get a sixty-day supply and petition other qualifying conditions.
You can read up on the law here: Chapter 69.51A RCW MEDICAL CANNABIS.
Washington is the first state to legalize recreational marijuana and at present, it has one of the most lenient marijuana laws in the nation. Registered patients are allowed to possess 3 ounces of marijuana, 48 ounces of infused product in solid form, 216 ounces of infused liquid product, or 21 grams of concentrates.
Patients are also allowed to cultivate up to 6 plants at home. If the patient’s healthcare provider determines that the patient will need more than the limit, he may recommend that the patient be allowed to grow up to 15 plants.
To qualify, a patient must have at least one of the following conditions:
- Crohn’s disease
- Hepatitis C
- HIV or AIDS
- Intractable pain
- Persistent muscle spasms, and/or spasticity
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Any “terminal or debilitating condition”
Adding new qualifying conditions by petition is no longer allowed after the law was changed in 2015. However, a licensed healthcare provider in Washington may recommend cannabis for terminal or debilitating medical conditions, meaning that the condition is severe enough to significantly disrupt the patient’s daily activities and ability to function,
Patients under the age of 18 may also apply to Washington’s Medical Marijuana Program. The only difference is that authorization for minor patients will expire after six months. While registering into the program is mandatory for minors who need medical marijuana, it is totally voluntary for adults 18 and above.
Caregivers are called “designated providers” in Washington and those who want to apply should be at least 21 years of age or older. For patients under 18, the provider should be their parent or guardian. The provider will be responsible for purchasing, providing and growing marijuana on the patient’s behalf. Patients may only have one provider at a time.
Why should you get a marijuana card in Washington
Even though recreational cannabis is already legal in Washington, cultivation for non-medical use is still not allowed. Medical marijuana is also exempted from the state’s 37% excise tax.
How to get a medical marijuana card in Washington
Applying to Washington’s medical marijuana program is possibly the least complicated in the nation. If you are qualified and would like to apply, here are the steps you should follow:
For patients, minor patients and designated providers
- Schedule a consultation with your healthcare provider to see if you have a qualifying condition. If you do, you may get a medical marijuana authorization. You may get this authorization from any MD, DO, PA, DOA, ARNP or naturopathic physician licensed to practice in the state. If you need a designated provider, your physician will have to issue two authorizations.
- After getting the authorization, you may go to any medically-endorsed store to get a medical marijuana card. Make sure to bring a government- or state-issued identification (i.e., driver license) as well. The consultant at the store will review your authorization, enter your information into the database, and print out a physical card for you. The cost of a medical marijuana card can range from $1 to $10 or a bit higher depending on which store you go to.
After receiving your medical marijuana card, you may go to any dispensary to purchase
Frequently Asked Questions on Getting a Washington Medical Marijuana Card
Having a Washington medical marijuana ID card is the only way minor patients in the state with a debilitating condition will be able to legally use medical marijuana.
Patients in Washington who have at least one qualifying condition may apply for a medical marijuana card.
A medical marijuana card is the only way minor patients with a debilitating condition can use cannabis in Washington. Medical cannabis is also exempted from state excise taxes, making it cheaper.
You can get your Washington medical marijuana card right after the consultant at a medically-endorsed store reviews your application and enters you in the state’s medical marijuana registry database.
Depending on the medically-endorsed store where you get your card, it can cost somewhere around $1 to $10 or more for patients to apply into Washington’s medical marijuana program.
Registered patients in Washington may grow up to 6 mature plants, but this can be increased to 15 depending on the physician’s recommendation.
Washington’s medical marijuana law allows registered patients to possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana, 48 ounces of infused product in solid form, 216 ounces of infused liquid product, or 21 grams of concentrates.
If you’re a patient in Washington who needs marijuana for your condition, you would only probably want to apply into the state’s medical marijuana program if you are a minor patient or want to cultivate at home, save on marijuana costs, or have higher possession limits. Washington already has some of the most permissive marijuana laws in the country and although patients over 18 are not even required to get a medical marijuana card, getting one is not expensive or a hassle at all.