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Medical marijuana in Washington is available to residents diagnosed with qualifying medical conditions who have obtained medical marijuana authorizations from their healthcare providers. The qualifying medical conditions approved by the state's Department of Health for medical marijuana are:
Washington makes no provision for qualifying medical marijuana patients to apply for medical marijuana cards online. Patients must obtain medical marijuana authorizations and then meet certified medical cannabis consultants in medically-endorsed retail stores to get their medical recognition cards.
Registration with the Washington Medical Cannabis Program is voluntary for patients aged 18 years and older but mandatory for qualifying patients who are minors. To register in the state's medical cannabis program, a qualifying patient must first receive medical cannabis authorization from a licensed healthcare practitioner. Afterward, they can meet a medical cannabis consultant at any medically-endorsed retail store near them, who will enroll them in the state's Medical Cannabis Database. This officially registers them with the Washington Medical Cannabis Program.
Only residents of Washington can obtain the state's medical marijuana cards. Authorizing healthcare practitioners are responsible for ensuring that the patients they approve for medical cannabis are Washington residents.
An adult patient who enrolls in the medical marijuana registry must pay $1 for a medical marijuana card. Although RCW 69.51A.230 (10) permits a retail store to charge more than $1 for a medical marijuana card, typical fees charged by medically-endorsed stores are between $1 and $10. Note that the healthcare practitioner issuing medical marijuana authorization will charge a fee during the visit to their medical office. As insurance companies do not cover medical cannabis, a patient participating in the medical marijuana program may be responsible for the consultation fee at the appointment with the healthcare provider. Typical fees for consultation range between $50 and $200.
Adult (aged 18 or older) patients only have to present their medical marijuana authorizations and valid identification cards to purchase medical marijuana because registering in the Washington medical marijuana database and obtaining medical marijuana cards are optional steps for them. However, caregivers for minor patients must present medical marijuana cards, two medical marijuana authorizations (for the patient and the caregiver), and valid identification cards to purchase medical marijuana from medically-endorsed retail stores in Washington.
Before a patient can legally use medical marijuana in Washington, the patient must complete registration and be listed in the medical marijuana database. However, Washington medical marijuana database registration cannot be completed until an applicant obtains a medical marijuana authorization from a healthcare practitioner.
Note that not all healthcare practitioners can issue medical marijuana authorizations. Under the medical marijuana program, a bona fide physician-patient relationship must exist between the healthcare practitioner and the applicant before an authorization may be valid. Other requirements for healthcare practitioners are contained on the healthcare practitioner information page on the Department of Health Website.
The following categories of health care practitioners are permitted to issue medical cannabis authorizations in Washington:
Washington law does not require healthcare practitioners to register or report to the state before qualifying to issue medical marijuana authorizations. Hence, the Washington Department of Health does not maintain a list of healthcare practitioners who may issue medical marijuana authorizations.
Yes, in accordance with RCW 69.51A.030, healthcare practitioners may authorize patients to use medical marijuana regardless of age, provided such persons suffer from any of the approved medical conditions. Minors must designate caregivers who must consent to help them purchase and administer medical marijuana. Caregivers for minor patients must be their parents or legal guardians.
Yes. Minors turning 18 can look forward to getting medical marijuana cards as adults in Washington. This means that they will no longer be required to provide the consents of their parents or legal caregivers or specify caregivers when registering for the state’s medical marijuana card. Adult medical marijuana cards (and authorization) issued in Washington are valid for up to a year while the cards given to minors must be renewed every 6 months.
A Washington medical marijuana card shares the same expiration date with the cardholder's medical marijuana authorization. To renew a medical marijuana card, the cardholder must first renew the medical marijuana authorization by scheduling an appointment with the issuing healthcare practitioner. Upon obtaining a renewal for the authorization, an appointment may be scheduled with a certified consultant at a medically-endorsed retail store to obtain a new medical marijuana card.
Washington, through RCW 69.51A.030, also provides for a compassionate care renewal for patients looking to renew their medical marijuana authorizations. After a patient's initial in-person physical examination and visit to a healthcare practitioner to obtain medical marijuana authorization, the healthcare provider may indicate that the patient is eligible for a compassionate care renewal if an in-person visit would cause the patient severe hardship. A patient's medical marijuana authorization may be renewed via telemedicine in a compassionate care renewal.
Yes. Medicinal marijuana in Washington became legal in 1998 when state voters passed Initiative 692 (I-692), also called the Medical Use of Marijuana Act. I-692 permitted Washington residents suffering from certain debilitating conditions, intractable pain, and terminal illnesses to use medical grade marijuana for the treatment of such conditions. The Department of Health oversees the state's medical marijuana program. Registered medical marijuana patients can possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis, 48 ounces of infused medical marijuana products in solid form, 1.69 gallons of infused products in liquid form, and 21 grams of medical marijuana concentrate.
Caregivers and medical marijuana patients registered in the medical marijuana database can grow up to 6 marijuana plants at home. However, upon request and approval, the Department of Health permits healthcare practitioners to authorize patients to grow up to 15 plants in specific circumstances. Patients who have not registered in the Washington medical marijuana database but have obtained approvals from qualified health care practitioners may grow up to 4 plants at home.
Homegrown marijuana must be cultivated in closed spaces which are locked and inaccessible to minors. Appropriate measures must also be taken to ensure that the odor from the grow areas is mitigated.
The benefits of having a medical marijuana card (medical cannabis recognition card) in Washington include the following:
Yes. Washington's medical marijuana laws allow caregivers to assist minors or incapacitated adults in obtaining and administering medical marijuana. Commonly referred to as designated providers in Washington, caregivers are individuals who have consented to help registered medical marijuana patients purchase, grow, and provide medical marijuana. A patient who requires a caregiver must find a person who will agree to be designated as the caregiver.
To be eligible to become a medical marijuana caregiver in Washington, an individual must be aged 21 or older, free of past drug-related convictions, and reside in the State of Washington. Proof of residency will be required in the form of a valid state-issued driver's license or state ID card. A caregiver must also be listed on the associated patient's medical marijuana authorization form. The caregiver's information must be entered into the medical marijuana database, and the person must be issued a designated provider recognition card. An individual can only serve as a caregiver for one patient at a time.
Washington's medical cannabis law has no reciprocity clause. This means that cannabis patients from other states cannot purchase medical marijuana at Washington-licensed dispensaries or medically-endorsed cannabis stores. However, anyone aged 21 years or older visiting Washington may buy cannabis products from any licensed marijuana retailer.
Yes. The Washington Medical Cannabis Authorization Database is a secure system not linked to other private or state systems, which strictly limits who can access it for patients' medical marijuana records. Like other medical reports, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires patients' medical marijuana to be kept confidential and away from unauthorized viewing. However, law enforcement and patients' employers may request the disclosure of certain information in patients' medical cannabis records. Similarly, designated providers, authorizing healthcare practitioners, and certified medical marijuana consultants may access some patients' information from the Washington Medical Marijuana Authorization Database.
Health insurance companies do not cover medical cannabis expenses in Washington.
A Washington-issued medical marijuana card allows a person to purchase a combination of the following:
In Washington, designated providers for patients who are minors may only purchase medical cannabis at medically-endorsed cannabis stores with their medical cannabis recognition cards. Patients aged 18 years or older can obtain medical cannabis with their medical authorization.