Frequently Asked Questions
What Does I-502 Mean for Me?
As Jonathon Martin of the Seattle times reported on Tuesday, November 6th, “Initiative 502 does not change the medical-marijuana law”.
While we as patients are not exempt from the new DUI standards, we will still maintain current patient rights including but not limited to: the right to possess up to 24 usable ounces, grow up to 15 plants, and procure medical cannabis at current access points.
December 6th, when the initiative actually comes into effect, non-patients will legally be allowed up to one ounce, and will have to procure their product from state-licensed marijuana stores. These facilities will likely not be realized for outwards of a year.
In summary, Choice Wellness Center will remain OPEN.
We are here as your source of local, organic cannabis and alternative wellness services for all authorized patients.
Feel free to call with any questions, or to renew your authorization with Nature’s Medical Group.
1. Medical Cannabis laws are the same.
You may grow up to 15 cannabis plants (out of sight and smell.)
You may possess up to 24 ounces of “useable cannabis.”
You must have your medical recommendation on your person when purchasing, transporting or using medical cannabis.
You may NOT give cannabis to non-patients.
2. Non-patients may possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana but there is no legal way to obtain it at this time.
3. Patients need to use care when driving.
Do not give law enforcement any reason to stop you.
Be sure that your vehicle does not have missing lights, expired registration, etc.
Do not smoke cannabis in your vehicle.
Obey all traffic laws.
Drive carefully at all times.
4. Pick up a copy of Washington’s Medical Use of Cannabis Act, A Guide for Patients, Providers, Law Enforcement, and the Public (In the Choice Wellness Center orientation packet.)
Has the Obama Administration legalized medical marijuana?
No. The U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, announced formal guidelines for federal prosecutors in states with laws allowing the use of medical marijuana. These guidelines do not legalize medical marijuana. The President directed federal prosecutors to consider appropriate medical use when making criminal charging decisions. The guidelines only provide direction for prosecutors when reviewing medical marijuana cases and do not change Washington State laws.
How can I find out if I qualify to be a medical marijuana patient?
Washington State law includes a very specific list of qualifying conditions that you must have. If you have one or more of these conditions, you must get a medical marijuana recommendation from a doctor, and then you will get a card to prove your qualification. See the list below for qualifying conditions or call us at 206.682.3015 to see if you qualify.
What are the qualifying conditions for my medical marijuana recommendation?
- Cancer, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), multiple sclerosis, epilepsy or other seizure disorder, or spasticity disorder
- Intractable pain, meaning pain unrelieved by standard medical treatments and medicines
- Glaucoma, either acute or chronic; meaning increased intraocular pressure unrelieved by standard treatments and medications; Crohn’s disease with debilitating nausea or intractable pain unrelieved by standard treatments and medications
- Hepatitis C with debilitating nausea or intractable pain unrelieved by standard treatment or medications
- Diseases including anorexia, which results in nausea, vomiting, wasting, appetite loss, cramping, seizures, muscles spasms, or spasticity, when these symptoms are unrelieved by standard treatments or mediations
- Any other medical condition duly approved by the Washington State medical quality assurance commission in consultation with the board of osteopathic medicine and surgery as directed.
Why are bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety not included in the list of qualifying conditions?
The Medical Quality Assurance Commission, in consultation with the Board of Osteopathic medicine and Surgery, has the authority to add qualifying conditions to the current list. The Commission has received petitions to add these conditions to the list of qualifying conditions. The Commission has denied the requests, citing a lack of scientific evidence supporting improved health outcomes from the use of medical marijuana for those conditions.
How do I request to add a condition to the list of qualifying conditions?
Anyone may petition the Commission to add a condition to the list. By law, the Commission will consult with the Board of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery. For more information about this process, contact the Commission at: Medical Quality Assurance Commission PO Box 47866 Olympia, WA 98504-7866
Do I have to register with Washington State to obtain a card?
No. All you need is to be qualifying patient with a written recommendation from your health care provider.
What type of healthcare providers can recommend marijuana for qualifying conditions?
- Medical doctors (MDs)
- Physician assistants (PAs)
- Osteopathic physicians (DOs)
- Osteopathic physician assistants (OAs)
- Naturopathic physicians (NPs)
- Advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs)
Can a health care provider from another state recommend marijuana for me?
Not unless the provider is also licensed in Washington.
What is a valid written recommendation?
As of June 2010, a recommendation must include the following items:
- Written on temper-resistant paper
- Original signature by the health care provider
- Statement of the health care provider’s professional opinion regarding how the patient will benefit from using medical marijuana
The 2010 law change also prohibits the use of a copy of the patient’s medical records in lieu of a recommendation.
Does my written recommendation expire?
Your written recommendation expires only if your health care provider includes an expiration date on your recommendation. If you change providers, you may consider obtaining a new recommendation from your new provider.
Is my recommendation valid if it was written before June 10, 2010?
Yes. Your recommendation is valid unless your health care provider included an expiration date.
Is my recommendation considered a prescription if it is written on temper-resistant paper?
No. Health care providers cannot write prescriptions for medical marijuana. They may only write a recommendation that a patient has a medical condition that would benefit from the use of medical marijuana.
What should I bring to the qualifying condition medical examination?
Please bring a Washington State ID or proof of residency, as well as any relevant medical information and/or records regarding your condition. This includes medical records, x-ray results, MRI results, or disability paperwork.
What can I expect from the qualifying condition medical examination?
A typical new patient visit at a Choice Wellness Center will entail:
- Being greeted by friendly, competent, and caring staff who will assist you in filling out all necessary paperwork.
- A visit with a board-certified physician who will review your medical information and the reason/condition for your medical marijuana request.
- The physician will determine your eligibility for use of medical marijuana to treat your condition and answer any questions you may have about using medical marijuana.
- After the physician has determined your eligibility for medical marijuana, you will receive a letter of recommendation and a Washington State Law patient’s rights pamphlet.
- The letter of recommendation allows you to legally purchase medical marijuana medication at a legal donation center, transport your medication, and cultivate marijuana.
- The CWC clinic provides 24-hour patient verification so that access points can confirm that you are a qualifying medical marijuana patient in good standing.
How much medical marijuana can I have?
A qualifying patient or designated provider may have a 60-day supply of medical marijuana. A 60-day supply is defined as 24 ounces from 15 plants (WAC 246-75-010). The law says you may exceed these limit if you can prove medical need.
Where can I get medical marijuana?
Most qualifying patients get their marijuana medication from donation centers. Physicians or evaluation clinics are not able to help you get your medication, or advise you about donation centers. When you visit a donation center, you must have your original letter of recommendation. It is important to keep your Washington State Medical Marijuana Card in your wallet or purse for reference, especially since this is the only document that has legal standing with law enforcement.
How do I use medical marijuana?
A qualifying patient can use medical marijuana by inhaling smoking or vapor from the plant, ingesting marijuana that has been added to food or drink (know as edibles), applying concentrated variations of the plant under the tongue, or applying lotions or salves to the skin. What kind of medical marijuana should I use? There are two primary types of marijuana: Satvia and Indica. All marijuana provides similar medical benefits, including relief from pain and nausea, and appetite stimulation. Sativa is stimulating to the brain and has more psychoactive effects. It is often used to treat migraine headaches and encourage activity. Indica is relaxing to the brain and has a more bodily effect. It is often used to encourage sleep and treat muscle spasms.
What kind of effects can I expect from using medical marijuana?
- Neurological – brain, nerves, nervous system
- Relaxation and/or drowsiness (effective for insomnia and anxiety)
- Pain relief (works with other pain medications and is especially effective for reducing pain caused by nerve damage and migraine headaches)
- Euphoria (effective for depression)
- Intensified sensations
- Side-effects may include panic, sadness, poor judgement, difficulty concentrating, impaired memory, and decreased coordination
- Respiratory – lungs, airways
- Bronchodilator (opens airways in asthmatic patients)
- Side effects may include airway irritation. Marijuana smoke can include tar, carbon monoxide, acids, aldehydes, pyrobenzenes, and other chemicals. Use edibles to avoid smoke
- Circulatory – heart, arteries, veins
- Mild decrease in blood pressure during use
- Mild decrease in overall blood pressure with long-term use
- Side effects may include temporary increase of heart rate
- Optical – eyes
- Lowers pressure in the eyes (effective for glaucoma)
- Side effects may include dry eyes and reddening of whites of eyes.
- Muscular-skeletal – muscles, bones, joints
- Reduces muscle spasms, spasticity, tics, and tremors
- Treats ataxia and loss of gross muscle coordination (effective for MS)
- May have anti-seizure effects
- Decreases inflammation of joints (effective for arthritis)
- Side effects may include decreased coordination
- Digestive – stomach, small and large intestines
- Reduces intestinal muscle pain Stimulates appetite
- Decreases nausea and vomiting (effective for chemotherapy)
- Decreases inflammation (effective for ulcerative colitis)
- System Suppresses inflammation
- Side effects can include lowering resistance and immunity to infections
- Side effects for long-term marijuana use
- Mood disturbance (depression, apathy, social isolation)
- Discontinuing may result in withdrawal symptoms including irritability, insomnia, mood swings, and depression that can last two weeks.
- You can avoid long-term side-effects by abstaining from medical marijuana use for one to two weeks during every three months.
How do I become a designated provider?
A designated provider must be at least 18-years-old and must be designated in writing by a qualifying patient. A valid provider form is necessary, available at our office for $10. You must come in person with your designated provider to sign and provide copies of your ID’s. A designated provider can only provide for one qualifying patient at any given time. Please feel free to contact us if you have additional questions on this matter.
May I be a patient and a designated provider?
The law does not say that a qualifying patient may or may not also be a designated provider. it does say that a designated provider may not consume a qualifying patient’s medical marijuana. Am I protected if I travel to other States with my recommendation? Some states may allow you to use your recommendation from Washington when traveling. You must comply with the laws in the state you are in. Doctor recommendations, ID cards, and other documentation from other states are not legal in Washington.
I have questions that the Department of Health cannot answer. Where can I get help? For example: Can I rent my house to medical marijuana patient? So I have rights as a tenant? What about using medical marijuana around children?
There may be other laws that apply to some situations We suggest that you obtain professional legal advice if you are not sure what the law says. You may also consult the American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Commission. All state laws are on the Washington State Legislative web page.
Do you have additional questions? Please feel free to contact us!