How to get a medical marijuana card in Washington

Washington Marijuana MMJ Card

What is an MMJ Card in Washington?

In Washington, a medical marijuana card (MMJ card), also known as a medical marijuana recognition card, is a form of identification given to patients and designated providers (caregivers). Provided they are registered in the Washington State medical marijuana authorization database. Cardholders are protected from criminal liabilities for possession and purchasing no more than the permissible amount of marijuana per the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 69.51A.210. Although marijuana is illegal under the Federal Controlled Substance Act, the Washington State Initiative 17, enacted on February 26, 2015, legalized marijuana use by adults 21 years or older. They can possess not more than two ounces of marijuana, use it on private properties, and cultivate not more than six marijuana plants with a minimum of three matured plants. Certified medical marijuana consultants are responsible for registering patients and caregivers into the state medical marijuana authorization database. Current state regulations require these consultants to be in every medically endorsed marijuana retail store (dispensaries) as a member of staff.

The Washington State Department of Health (WSDOH) is responsible for the administration of the state's medical marijuana authorization database. The department is also responsible for licensing and regulation of the medical marijuana consultant certificate, and setting the standard for medical marijuana products with the state. According to the WSDOH medical marijuana data and statistics, there are around 52,479 issued MMJ cards. The department also estimates around 157 medically endorsed retail stores (dispensaries) and 583 certified consultants in Washington as of April 30, 2021.

Who Can Apply for an MMJ Card in Washington?

State residents diagnosed with any state qualifying medical condition, a medical marijuana authorization form, and state-issued photo identification can consult with a certified consultant. These consultants are responsible for registering qualified patients in the state medical marijuana database for an MMJ card.

Can a Minor Obtain a Medical Marijuana Card in Washington?

Yes, per RCW 69.51A.030 practitioners can authorize marijuana use by patients regardless of age given it's medically appropriate and acceptable per Washington's medical professional's standard of care. Minors (patients under 18 years) would have to designate a provider (at least 21 years old) to help in legally purchasing, growing, or providing marijuana to these minors. Designated providers can be the under-aged patient's parents or legal guardians. Patients in Washington are only legally allowed one designated provider at a time.

What Conditions Qualify for Medical Marijuana Cards in Washington?

In Washington, not all terminal debilitating medical conditions are allowed treatments with medical marijuana. Only medical conditions are listed in the Washington State Department of Health list of qualifying conditions. These conditions are capable of significantly interfering with a patient's daily activities and ability to properly function. State residents with any of the following medical conditions qualify for medical marijuana cards in Washington;

  • Cancer
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Epilepsy or other seizure disorder
  • Spasticity disorders
  • Chronic pain, unrelieved by standard medical treatments and medications
  • Glaucoma, either acute or chronic where increased intraocular pressure is unmitigated by standard treatments and medications
  • Crohn's disease with debilitating symptoms that are resistant to standard treatments or medications
  • Hepatitis C, which symptoms include nausea or intractable pain ineffective by standard treatments or medications
  • Diseases, that produces any of the following as symptoms nausea, vomiting, wasting, appetite loss, cramping, seizures, muscle spasms, or spasticity, when conventional treatments or medications are ineffective in treating these symptoms,
  • Chronic renal failure (kidney failure) requiring hemodialysis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Traumatic brain injury.

Mental health conditions including depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety do not qualify for medical marijuana. This is due to insufficient scientific evidence that attests to improved health outcomes from medical marijuana use in these conditions. Numerous petitions requesting the addition of mental health conditions to Washington's list of qualifying medical conditions before July 24, 2015, were declined. Presently addition of a medical condition to Washington's list would require legislative action.

How do I Apply for an MMJ Card in Washington?

In Washington, certified patients and caregivers can apply for a medical marijuana card through several means including;

  • In-person
  • Online

How To Apply for an MMJ Card in Person in Washington

Unlike other states, Washington medical marijuana cards are issued by medically endorsed stores. Provided you have one or more qualifying medical conditions that allow medical marijuana use in Washington. The following steps are applicable for state residents in-person application for a medical marijuana card in Washington;

  • Step 1: Schedule an appointment with a health practitioner to ascertain if you have any medical conditions that can benefit from medical marijuana treatments. Patients diagnosed with these medical conditions can obtain an adequately filled and signed practitioner medical marijuana authorization form. Under state law the following healthcare practitioners are allowed to issued medical marijuana authorizations; medical doctors (MD), physician assistants (PA), osteopathic physician (DO), osteopathic physician assistants (DOA), a naturopathic physician, and advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP).

  • Step 2: Visit a medically endorsed retail store (dispensaries) and consult an in-house certified medical marijuana consultant to have your information added to the state medical marijuana authorization database. Although adding adult information to the state medical marijuana database is completely voluntary, it is compulsory under state laws to add minors' information into the database.

  • Step3: Give the certified consultant your medical marijuana authorization form and state-issued photo identification to have your information added to the state medical marijuana authorization database. The patient would have their picture taken, after which your new medical marijuana recognition card would be created immediately and handed over to you. a $1 minimum MMJ card fee would also be required and it's paid to the dispensary you registered in. These fees are later given to the Washington State Department of Health.

How does a Primary Caregiver get a Washington MMIC?

In Washington, designated providers also known as primary caregivers can get a medical marijuana identification card (MMIC) by registering in the state medical marijuana authorization database. To register, designated providers must be at least 21 years or older and meet specific criteria which include;

  • Being named on a patient medical marijuana authorization form
  • having an exact copy of the patient's medical marijuana authorization form printed on tamper-resistant paper.

A primary caregiver would need two copies of their patient's medical marijuana authorization forms printed on tamper-resistant paper. These two copies are required to be separately signed by the designated provider and their patient. With these forms and state-issued photo identification, designated providers can visit any medically endorsed store to consult with their in-house certified medical marijuana consultant. These consultants add their information and their patient's information added to the medical marijuana authorization database. After which, MMIC cards are issued immediately.

How long does it take to get a Washington MMIC?

Immediately a caregiver or patient information is registered in the state medical marijuana authorization database; their medical marijuana identification card (MMIC) is generated and issued by the certified medical marijuana consultant.

Getting a Washington Medical Marijuana Card Online

In Washington, medical marijuana cards can be gotten online through independent third-party sites that provide such services. Medically endorsed stores within the state don't offer online consultation with their in-house certified medical marijuana consultant.

How Much does a Medical Marijuana Card Cost in Washington?

Medical marijuana cards in Washington cost averages between $1 to $10 or more depending on the medically endorsed retail store (dispensaries) you go to. Dispensaries are not restricted in the amounts they are allowed to charge for medical marijuana cards and these fees are later transferred to the Washington State Department of Health.

What Documents Do I Need to Apply for a Medical Cannabis Card in Washington?

The following documents are required for a patient or caregivers to be registered in Washington's medical marijuana authorization database;

  • A government or state-issued identification card which includes a Washington State driver's license.
  • A signed practitioner authorization form. Caregivers would need two separately signed patient authorization forms by their patient and the caregiver themselves.

Are my Details Kept Confidential When I Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card in Washington?

Yes, per RCW 42.56.625 all patients and designated providers' records in the Washington state medical marijuana authorization database are exempted from disclosure. These records include personally identifiable information such as names and addresses. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) also set the national standard for patients' healthcare information protection. The federal act was enacted in 1996 and it prohibits the disclosure of sensitive patient information to third parties without the patient's consent. Violation of this act can lead to fines between $100 to a maximum of $1.5million per record leaked by covered entries.

What Information appears on a Washington Medical Marijuana Card?

Common information found on a Washington medical marijuana card includes;

  • A 16 digit card serial number
  • The full legal name of the cardholder
  • The date the card was issued
  • The card's expiration date
  • The number of marijuana plant the cardholder can grow
  • The authorizing healthcare practitioner's name.

Can Someone Track me Down through the Washington Registry?

No, nobody can track you through the Washington state medical marijuana authorization database as it would be a violation of HIPAA and state laws. Although a selected few professionals can access the state database for different reasons. These professionals include healthcare practitioners, certified medical marijuana consultants, database administrators for data maintenance, and the Washington State Department of Health to ensure patients compliance.

Other agencies given access to the database include the Washington State Department of Revenue for tax reports,Washington State Liquor, and Cannabis Board for aggregated data reports. Law enforcement agencies and employees of medically endorsed marijuana retail stores are also provided access to the database to enable them to verify MMJ card authenticity.

Washington Marijuana MMJ Card