Step 1: Get a valid recommendation
If you are a resident of the State of California, have a valid state-issued Driver's License or ID card, and have a condition which may be helped by medical marijuana, you are qualified. Proposition 215 lists cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, and "any other illness for which marijuana provides relief". Physicians have recommended marijuana for hundreds of indications, including such common complaints as insomnia, PMS, post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, epilepsy, asthma, arthritis, and substance abuse harm reduction.
Finding a doctor
Most patients go to a doctor who specializes in cannabis recommendations, since they generally have a system in place to provide 24 hour verifications online or over the phone (even though you have the original, physical copy, dispensaries and delivery services will also need to confirm that it is indeed valid). You can, of course, get a recommendation from your primary care physician. You can download this example recommendation letter/form from Americans for Safe Access for your doctor to fill in or use as a guideline, or use the one California NORML provides. For reference, the Medical Board of California's full guidelines are here.
You need a recommendation from a physician with a valid license; if your doctor loses their license, your recommendation will become invalid, so it is important that you select a reliable provider. Your cannabis doctor will request medical records from your primary care physician to confirm you have been diagnosed with a treatable condition -- if they don't, they aren't following the Medical Board's guidelines which state "it is incumbent upon that physician to consult with the patient's primary treating physician or obtain the appropriate patient records to confirm the patient's underlying diagnosis and prior treatment history." In order to remain in good standing with the Medical Board of California, your cannabis doctor needs to adhere to the following official standards for recommending cannabis to a patient:
- History and good faith examination of the patient.
- Development of a treatment plan with objectives.
- Provision of informed consent including discussion of side effects.
- Periodic review of the treatment’s efficacy.
- Consultation, as necessary.
- Proper record keeping that supports the decision to recommend the use of medical marijuana
What Type of Health Care Provider Can Recommend Marijuana for Qualifying Conditions?
Any licensed healthcare provider, including but not necessarily, your primary physician, can write you a recommendation. It can be more time efficient and is generally suggested to first talk with your primary or treating physician, however, if this fails, there are some doctors who exclusively see patients for medical marijuana evaluations (often referred to as medical cannabis doctors).
Below is a list of various healthcare providers who can write medical marijuana recommendations in legal states (Please note: Each legal state may have varying forms of this list).
- Medical Doctor (MD)
- Physician Assistant (PA)
- Osteopathic Physician (DO)
- Osteopathic Physician Assistant (OA)
- Naturopathic Physician (ND)
- Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP)
Below, we've listed some local physicians who issue cannabis recommendations. If you have difficulty getting to a doctor's office, consider using HelloMD, an online service. Providers follow the same standard of care, whether the patient is seen in-person, through telehealth or other methods of electronically enabled health care. Read the laws about telehealth medicine for more information. Physicians need not reside in California, as long as they have a valid, current California license. Use the link in the listing below to receive a $10 discount.
Claudia Jensen MD Center For Integrated Medicine
Ventura, CA 93003
Santa Barbara County
LA / Valley
Designating a caregiver
If you need assistance in obtaining and using medical cannabis, you may designate a primary caregiver who will then be legally permitted to handle and transport cannabis on your behalf.
A primary caregiver is a person who consistently assumes the responsibility for the housing, health or safety of the applicant (patient). This may be a friend or relative, or the owner, operator or employee of an appropriately licensed clinic, facility, hospice, or home health agency. A caregiver may have more than one patient, but a patient may not have more than one designated primary caregiver.
The caregiver cannot apply for this certification; the patient must apply for them. This consists of completing a Caregiver Designation Form. A qualified caregiver can be given this authorization at the time of your first visit when we verify the patient's recommendation letter and photo ID. If you wish to designate someone as a caregiver, please ensure they meet the guidelines described above. Consult an attorney if you are unsure whether someone qualifies as a primary caregiver. The caregiver may also apply for an optional California MMP Card.
Some notes on signing up for a collective
After you have your recommendation, you are eligible to possess, use, and grow cannabis. In general, when you do business with any dispensary, you are considered to be a member of that collective. In the membership agreement, you have the option to assign your right to cultivate medical marijuana to the Collective. Your allowance of 6 mature or 12 immature plants is then assigned to member-cultivators; for example, if the grower has 120 plants, they will be allocated 10 recommendations from non-growing member-patients. The laws in California tend to be vague, but in practice this is generally accepted as a reasonable interpretation by law enforcement.
You can begin the process of applying with Sespe here. At this writing, there are no walk-in dispensaries in Ventura county, but for those who don't mind the drive, you'll find quite a few of them in the Valley and LA. Make sure you visit shops that are licensed under Prop. D, and who lab test their medicines. California law provides only general guidelines, with no central licensing or regulatory system, so that responsibility has fallen on the cities and counties. Rules tend to be inconsistent and unevenly enforced, so we encourage you to be a demanding consumer and insist upon a minimum standard of safety and accountability that includes lab tested product. We at Sespe hold ourselves to the same standard we would expect to find as consumers. We're not just providers, we're all patients ourselves, and we would be honored if you would join us.