Contrary to stories coming out of California and other cannabis friendly states, getting legal access to a federally-regulated Schedule 1 drug isn’t as simple as walking in, dropping your cash on the counter, and smiling for a picture.
If you applied for a medical marijuana card from your state
but were denied, it could have been for a variety of disqualifying reasons—one of which was likely explained in a letter (sent via the actual postman) detailing what steps to take to correct the issue, and a limited window in which you can re-apply (for another non-refundable application fee, of course).
Understanding the underlying cause of the denial is the first step in remedying it and so is going back in armed with the right information.
Patients can file an appeal. In California patients can file with the California Department of Public Health if your county health department denies your application. There is no fee to appeal.
Dig into the details
No matter how the patient applied—whether via a teledoctor, a cannabis-registered physician’s office, or through your own primary care —your state will have a formal process and standards that require strict attention, or patients run the risk of getting rejected.
Read your state’s rules and regulations carefully—or call one of the many cannabis education resources to have them explained. State laws vary widely, but unless it was your age, criminal record, or a flubbed application—the basis of the rejection many instances likely due to insufficient documentation of a qualifying condition.
Stricter states require patients to produce medical records showing a well-documented, state-qualifying diagnosis that’s both chronic (meaning it has persisted over a period of many weeks, months, or years), and has also shown to be demonstrably resistant to other treatments—meaning your doctor attempted, if not exhausted, other pathways including FDA-approved medication, before turning to cannabis. And sadly, whether or not they are thoroughly reviewed or even checked at your appointment doesn’t mean that the state can’t deny you a card for not supplying them upon request.
For most patients, showing a history of their condition isn’t a problem. Patients simply request a copy of medical records. But often there are aches and pains that never get reported to a medical professional—because maybe there is an assumption the condition or injury is too old, the pain too generalized, or that nothing (but marijuana) does it much good. However, this is the exact sort of thing you should discuss. Make a note of it in your patients medical record. Patients can then take these records elsewhere, to show medical due diligence to state regulators.
Consider secondary or complicating conditions
Most medical marijuana patients use cannabis to treat more than one symptom or condition at a time (for example treating both chronic back pain, alongside depression), or to treat a complicating condition (such as nausea derived from a bad migraine). So keep in mind that it could be a secondary condition that qualifies you more readily than what brought you to see the doc in the first place.