PART ONE - GETTING THE CARD
How do I get a Medical Marijuana Card?
The first step is to determine whether or not your medical condition will allow for your use of Medical Marijuana in Oregon. The following are the only conditions for which patients may use Medical Marijuana in Oregon.
Positive status for HIV/AIDS
Agitation due to Altzheimer's
ANY medical condition which results in the patient suffering:
So if you hear someone stating that they received a Medical Marijuana card “for migraines”, it is really the severe pain caused by those migraines that qualified them. In practice, this usually means that chronic painful conditions will qualify someone, acute painful conditions will not. A broken leg is quite painful, yet the pain will usually fade as the leg heals. This would not qualify someone. A broken leg that fails to heal properly, and which causes severe pain over an extended period of time might qualify someone. Each patient is evaluated on a case by case basis, and the evaluation must start with the patient's medical records. The same applies to these potentially qualifying conditions:
Degenerative Disk Disease
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Why do you need my medical records?
Oregon state law requires that all patients prove that they possess one of the conditions for which the use of Medical Marijuana has been authorized. Just seeing someone's surgical scars, swelling, etc. is not sufficient evidence that a qualifying condition exists. Our doctors make a preliminary determination on someone's eligibility based on that patient's chart notes, lab reports, etc. They then confer with the patient to confirm the existence of a qualifying condition before signing the recommendation. Without medical records, there is nothing for them to evaluate. Since the program exists to allow for the medical use of marijuana, a medical need must be demonstrated. And that means that we need your medical records.
How do I submit my medical records?
The easiest way is to complete an “Authorization to Request Medical Records”. Once you have signed this form, we will send it to your doctor(s), clinic(s), etc. They will send your records to us.
If you alredy have your records, you can mail or fax them to us, or simply walk in and drop them off during business hours.
What if I don't want my primary care doctor to know that I am using Medical Marijuana?
While we strongly believe that doctors should be aware of all treatments that patients are using, in order to incorporate all the available information when determining treatment and care, we understand that patients might be reluctant to share their use of Medical Marijuana with a doctor who is opposed to its use. If we request a patient's records directly from the primary care doctor, that doctor will know who received those records, and may know that the requesting clinic is a Marijuana Card clinic. The only way to avoid this is to have the patient request his/her own records, and deliver those records to us themselves.
What happens after you get my records?
Your medical file is given to one of our physicians for review. They look for sufficient documentation of a qualifying condition, based upon what your doctor has included in your chart notes. If there is enough evidence that you qualify, a clinic staff member will contact you to make an appointment to come in and meet with the doctor who reviewed your records. These doctors are not full time employees of our clinic. They designate certain days each month that they will hold consultations. Patients must meet with the doctor in order to get their recommendation signed.
If your records do not contain enough information to qualify you, staff members will be able to offer suggestions on an individual basis to correct the lack. This may mean a delay in processing your application, and may necessitate additional out-of-pocket cost. While we regret the need for this when it happens, state law requires that certain requirements be met.
What happens when I see the doctor?
There will be a non-invasive physical exam, basic vital signs will be taken, and the doctor will ask you about your medical history. They may ask about treatments you have received, medications you have been prescribed, specialists or test results, etc. They will discuss the use of Medical Marijuana in various forms with you. At the conclusion of a successful consultation, they will sign your recommendation to use Medical Marijuana.
The doctor signed my form. Now what?
Now you need to mail the entire application package, via certified mail, to the OMMP office in Portland. We will assist you with this by making all the necessary copies, ensuring that all the forms are completed correctly, provide you with the correct mailing materials, and give you a check list so that you are assured that your submission is done properly.
A complete application package contains the following:
A state application form listing the name and address of the patient, anyone that the patient names as a caregiver, and the person that the patient has designated as their grower. (This may be the patient him/herself, or someone else.) You must also list the physical address of the site where your Medical Marijuana will be grown.
A signed and dated “Attending Physician's Recommendation” which will be completed by the clinic doctor. Once the doctor has signed the recommendation, the patient has 90 days to mail the forms before the doctor's signature expires and the patient must go through the entire process again.
(You do not have to print out these forms, as we will have them ready for you on the day of your appointment. The links are provided so that you can see what each form looks like, and what information you will need to provide in order to complete the form properly.)
Copies of the photo ID's of everyone listed on the state application. These must be government issued ID's – either a state ID card or driver's license. The state does change its requirements for permissible ID from time to time, so other forms of ID might be acceptable at the time you apply. Clinic staff will be able to provide you with current information.
Payment to the state of Oregon for one year's participation in the Oregon Medical Marijuana program.
This fee is 200 dollars a year, unless you are receiving food stamps, Oregon Health Plan benefits, or SSI. (Supplemental Security Income). You must send along an award letter as proof that you are currently enrolled in one of these programs in order to qualify for the lower yearly fee. Please note, SSD (Social Security Disability) is NOT sufficient to get the lower fee. Also, you will need the award letter from DHS in order to prove that you get food stamps. Your Oregon Trail card is not enough as it does not have your name on it. However, the new SNAP card may suffice.
As of October 1, 2011, the state has restructured the fees for OMMP. Patients currently receiving OHP benefits or food stamps will be required to pay 100 dollars a year. SSI recipients will pay 20 dollars a year.
Any patient who names someone else as his/her grower will be required to pay an additional 50 dollars a year.
When will I get my card from the state?
Although state law requires OMMP to process applications within 30 days, in reality, there is a much longer waiting period. This does not mean that there is a problem with your application or documentation, just that there are many more applications being received than the office can process in a timely fashion. It will probably take a couple of months or more for the state to approve your application and mail out the official cards. However, you may begin using Medical Marijuana before the card arrives, provided that you have 2 things in your possession.
The first is copies of all of the materials that you submitted to the state. We refer to this as your 'safety packet.'
The second is your proof of the date that you submitted the application packet. This is why you must send it by certified mail. Your postmarked certified mail receipt provides the proof of the date that you mailed the application to Portland, and when attached to your safety packet, has the same legal effect as the state-issued card. You may also drive to Portland and submit your packet at the OMMP office in person.
Can I get a card if I have never seen a doctor for my condition?
Short answer – no. Better answer – not yet. You will have to establish medical care for your condition before you can be considered for a card. There are a number of ways to do this, which we can discuss with you on an individual basis. But the bottom line is- Medical need must be demonstrated in order to use Medical Marijuana.
I had surgery 10 years ago. Can I get a card?
That depends. Just having had surgery is not usually sufficient reason to qualify for a Medical Marijuana card. The law says that you must currently be under care for the qualifying condition. If your surgery failed to correct the problem, or has caused other problems, and you suffer from pain, nausea or another qualifying condition, and the ongoing issues are medically documented, then you may qualify.
I just moved here from another state. Can I get an Oregon Medical Marijuana card?
Yes – if your medical records are sufficient. Those records do not have to be from a doctor in Oregon. We can request records from anywhere for evaluation. There is no minimum residency requirement for Oregon. You can apply for a card at any time, providing you meet the requirements of having an Oregon grower and grow site. (Right now, you need not be an Oregon resident to get an Oregon card due to a loophole in Oregon law. We anticipate that this loophole will soon close, so check with us when you want to apply to see what the current law states.)
Can I just transfer my Medical Marijuana card from another state?
No. There is no means set up whereby a patient can just switch over a Medical Marijuana card. Each state that permits the use of Medical Marijuana does so for a different list of conditions. A condition which might qualify you in one state might not be on another state's qualifying list. So cardholders from other states must go through the entire Oregon process as though they never had a card at all.
Please note – there are a few Medical Marijuana states which recognize out-of-state Medical Marijuana cards. Oregon is not one of them. Your card from another state will not give you protection from arrest and prosecution for possession of Marijuana in Oregon.
I don't know anyone who grows Medical Marijuana. How do I fill out the application?
The state requires that a grower's name and address be included on the application. If you do not know someone to grow for you, your application does not need to wait to be submitted. Put yourself down as your own grower, and your address as the grow site. This does not commit you to grow there, but does allow for the processing of your paperwork. There is a simple change form that can be submitted to the OMMP office at a later date, once you have located a suitable grower.
What is a Medical Marijuana Caregiver in Oregon?
Under Oregon law, a patient may name a caregiver on their application. This person would be someone who lives with, or who is around the patient regularly, who assists them with the daily living tasks that they cannot do because of their medical condition, and who might be called upon to help the patient with growing their own medicine, assisting the patient's grower, making medicated edibles for the patient, transporting medicine to the patient, etc. This is not the same thing as a patient's Primary Care Provider (doctor) or the state paid in-home caregiver. A patient should name a trustworthy caregiver, someone who is known personally by the patient, as that person will be handling the patient's medicine. Patients do not want to name someone that they do not know, since a caregiver who violates state law may have all of the medicine in their possession taken in evidence, meaning that the patient must do without. There are a few unscrupulous growers who insist that patients name a friend of the grower to be their caregiver. This is not what the program intended, and could lead to a patient losing his/her medicine if state law is violated by the grower or caregiver.
Do I have to go to your clinic to get a card?
No. State law allows any MD or DO who is licensed in Oregon to sign the recommendation form. If your own doctor will sign for you, you do not need to come to a clinic, provide medical records, etc.
However, there are many doctors who refuse to sign, for a variety of reasons. Some are still stuck in the reefer-madness mindset, associating Medical Marijuana with all those outdated horror stories of 'marijuana abusers.' Still others do not want a reputation as “pot docs”, since marijuana is still perceived negatively by some in our society, and the doctors do not want to be associated with it. Many doctors are more open-minded, but are employed by a medical corporation whose internal policies prohibit the signing of the recommendation, usually because the organization fears losing Federal funding if their doctors sign for patients. Then there are those who still (incorrectly) fear legal repercussions if their signature appears on a recommendation, even though the Supreme Court has stated that a doctor making a recommendation for Medical Marijuana is operating within the scope of his medical duties by doing so. And then there are the doctors who are unable, or unwilling, to surrender the control of a patient's care that using Medical Marijuana requires. Patients using Medical Marijuana control much of their own treatment, from choosing appropriate strains, to determining how much, when, and how best to administer their own medication. This eliminates the “take two and call me in the morning” routine that many doctors are used to, and some doctors cannot accept putting that much control in the patients' hands.
If you are being seen by a doctor who fits the above descriptions, then coming to a clinic is the only way to get a card.
Why do you keep saying recommendation and not prescription?
Marijuana cannot be prescribed in the United States. A prescription is a specific medical order for a patient to use a certain drug. Doctors cannot order patients to use Medical Marijuana since it is still classified by the Federal government as a Schedule I drug, meaning, by definition, Marijuana has no medicinal value. Until that scheduling classification changes, all that doctors can do, legally, is to state that Marijuana might mitigate a patient's medical condition. That constitutes a recommendation, not an order (prescription).
What will all this cost me?
Our clinic fee, which covers everything, is $175.00. This is payable at the time that you see our doctor to get your recommendation signed.
As noted above, there is an additional fee due to the state of Oregon to process the application and print the cards.
* 200.00 for those that do not qualify for the low income fee. (250.00 if you name someone else to grow your Medical Marijuana for you.)
* 100.00 if the patient receives OHP or Food Stamps. (The patient must specifically be named as a participant. Just living in a house where someone else gets these things will not qualify you for the lower fee.) Naming someone else to grow for you will mean your fee is 150.00.
*SSI recipients will still pay 20.00 a year (70.00 if they name someone else as their grower).
The state has also added a 100.00 fee to replace any lost or stolen OMMP card.
PART 2 – AFTER GETTING THE CARD
Why does a renewal cost as much as a new card?
We are required to do exactly as much paperwork for a renewal as for a new card. The state says that patients must demonstrate two things in order to get a card each year- that they possess a qualifying condition, and that they are receiving care for that condition. The law makes no distinction between being a renewal and being a first time applicant. So we have to collect and process the same amount of paperwork for each patient, new or renewal.
I have something that will never get better or go away. The doctor has done everything that he can for me. Why do I need to keep going back to that doctor?
Because of the wording of the state law. You are required to prove each year that you still have the condition and that you are still receiving care for that condition, even after the doctor says that there is nothing more that he can do.
Can I drive while using Medical Marijuana?
As of now, DUI Marijuana is still on the books as a crime. Even if you have a medical card, you cannot legally drive while under the influence of the medicine.
If I have a card, does my landlord have to let me grow at my house or apartment?
No. The property owner has no obligation to permit you to grow on his property. Your recommendation to use Medical Marijuana does not constitute a medical order, so he can choose to prohibit you from growing there – or even from smoking inside your own house, if your lease says that you cannot smoke inside. The card does not grant you special permission or protection with regard to landlords, leasing, etc.
If I have a card, will that mean that Child Services cannot take my kids away?
It depends. Recently, the Oregon courts determined that Marijuana use does not automatically mean bad parenting. However, you must make sure that you present the best possible case, should Child Services ever choose to intervene. Keep your Medical Marijuana under lock and key, whether it be the plants in your yard, or your brownies. Make sure that your children understand that this is your medicine, not to be touched or shared with anyone else. Maintain order in your house and keep a low profile. Having your kids run about the neighborhood babbling about “Mommy's medicine” is attention that you probably do not need. Discretion is the key word. As long as the negative stereotypes regarding Marijuana continue to direct public policy, patients must accept that certain behaviors will not be treated fairly.
What is the impact of a Medical Marijuana card on employment?
That completely depends on the employer. The employer has no legal mandate to accommodate the use of Medical Marijuana. He may choose to fire a cardholder once the use of Medical Marijuana is known. He may refuse to hire a cardholder. He need not make any arrangements for a Medical Marijuana user to use their medication at the workplace. Unlike other disabled people, Medical Marijuana patients have no protection at all with regard to employment.
If I have a criminal record, can I get a card?
Anyone with a qualifying condition can get a patient card. The state only conducts background checks on those who are named as a grower, either for themselves, or for another patient.
According to the Oregon Administrative Rules:
“The Department shall conduct a criminal background check on the grower as authorized under ORS 475.304.
(a) A person convicted of a Class A or Class B felony under ORS 475.840 to 475.920 for the manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance in Schedule I or Schedule II, if the offense occurred on or after January 1, 2006, may not be issued a marijuana grow site registration card or produce marijuana for a registry identification cardholder for five years from the date of conviction.
(b) A person convicted more than once of a Class A or Class B felony under ORS 475.840 to 475.920 for the manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance in Schedule I or Schedule II, if the offenses occurred after January 1, 2006, may not be issued a marijuana grow site registration card or produce marijuana for a registry identification cardholder.
Misdemeanor convictions are not considered. Violations and citations are not considered. Felony convictions that are not for Controlled Dangerous Substances are not considered.
If you are convicted of violating Oregon's Medical Marijuana law, you can be denied a card.
Again, from the Oregon Administrative Rules:
(1) The Department may suspend a registry identification card, and preclude a person from using a registry identification card for a period of up to six months if the Department obtains evidence that establishes a registry identification cardholder has:
(a) Committed egregious violations of the Act, including obtaining a registry identification card by fraud;
(b) Committed multiple or continuing violations of the Act; or
C Been convicted of a marijuana-related offense.
How much medicine can I have with my card?
At any one time, every patient in Oregon may have, in their name, 24 ounces of dried, usable Medical Marijuana. That means all of your dried, usable medicine, where ever it is being stored must not exceed 24 ounces at one time. That does not mean that you can have 24 ounces at your house, another 24 ounces at your caregiver's home and another 24 ounces out at your grower's place.
You may also have, at your designated grow site, up to 6 mature Medical Marijuana plants, and up to 18 starts or seedlings. State law defines a mature Medical Marijuana plant as ANY plant which is taller than 12 inches, more than 12 inches around at the widest part of the canopy, or in bud (flower).
Where do I get my Medical Marijuana?
You grow it, or you name someone to grow it for you. That means, in many cases, that you will not be able to use Medical Marijuana the moment that you drop your paperwork in the mail. You can receive gifts of Medical Marijuana from another patient, provided that there is NO consideration exchanged for the medicine. That means you cannot buy it, barter for it, promise anything for it. Patient to patient exchange without consideration is the only legal way to do it.
Obviously, this is a problem. And in response to that problem, various patient resource groups have been established throughout Oregon to assist patients in finding, growing, producing, preparing or using Medical Marijuana. Each group has their own procedures and practices. Patient resource groups can help with locating a grower, seeds, clones, medicine, provide classes in growing or cooking with Medical Marijuana, and much more. Not every group offers every service, so making contact with more than one group can be to a patient's benefit.
One easy means by which to locate patient resource groups is the Internet. There are many forums and discussion groups where patient resource groups post contact information. Card clinics may have contact information. Often, groups use local advertising outlets, bulletin boards, Craig's list type advertising, including events on community event sites and locations, and the like. Smoke shops and similar retailers often know of patient resource groups.
Naturally, patients need to be aware that scams and illegal activities can look to be legitimate ventures at first glance. Be aware of the laws and rules regarding Medical Marijuana and keep yourself safe.