How to Qualify for a Medical Cannabis Card

Emily Robertson July 26, 2018 0 comments

Qualifying conditions to access cannabis change from state to state. However, these are the ones that qualify in most, and these are the things you need to say.

Not every patient qualifies for legal cannabis simply because they have asked for it. First they must navigate through the murky world of “qualifying conditions.” These qualifiers vary based on country, and then within those countries, vary again by provincial and state regulations.

Sometimes, the qualifiers are rather sticky. Take Florida, for example, this state makes you medically prove that you have exhausted all other “traditional” forms of medicine before turning to cannabis (angry face).  Still, there are conditions that are more common to the “qualifying conditions” list as we survey legal regions around the world.

The most commonly approved conditions are these:

Managing Symptoms of Cancer with Cannabis


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Cancer patients qualify for cannabis to treat pain, as well as nausea from chemo treatments. It is also acceptable to ask for cannabis to stimulate appetite and assist with sleep.  While cannabis is not an officially recognized treatment for cancer at this time, it is agreed upon within the scientific community that cannabis can prevent the spread (CBD) of certain types of cancer and directly kill cancer cells (THC). Most medical professionals will not give a prescription for treating cancer directly, but they will if you are experiencing cancer-related pain or decreased appetite.

Cannabis for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The increase in veterans supporting access to cannabis has been ignited by its enormous success in treating  PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can result from any number of traumas, and the most debilitating symptoms include panic attacks and hyper-vigilance. These can lead to secondary symptoms of insomnia, nightmares, and hallucinations.

Cannabis has been shown to reduce these symptoms of PTSD and make trauma more easily managed be reducing anxiety. It can help the sufferer sleep more soundly, away from the torment of nightmares or night terrors. PTSD can be difficult to diagnose, but anxiety and depression always qualify.

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Cannabis for Epilepsy

Currently, the pharmaceuticals on the market fall short in controlling the seizures for a wide swath of epileptic patients. Doctors say these patients have “refractory seizures” – meaning they try everything and nothing works. Studies have shown that cannabis can help to dramatically reduce the frequency of seizures. Trials show that CBD demonstrates incredible anti-epileptic ability.

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Cannabis May Help HIV/AIDS Nausea and Appetite Loss

HIV/AIDS is another condition which lacks a comprehensive, effective treatment. But for years, cannabis has been used to treat the symptoms associated with HIV/AIDS, like nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, and pain.

Just as importantly, cannabis reduces the anxiety and depression that come with a terminal disease diagnosis. In addition, the unjust stigma surrounding the condition perpetuates isolation and loneliness, as well as a hopeless feeling about health, creating significant mental health issues.

Cannabis for Neurodegenerative Disease

Neurodegenerative diseases affect a person’s entire being. Diseases like Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and Parkinson’s can cause traumatic situations for sufferers and their loved ones.

Recently, however, research is beginning to show how cannabis may be able to help treat these conditions. Though we need to conduct more studies, there’s no debate that cannabis helps with mobility, reduces spasticity and rigidity of muscles, improves sleep, and cognitive functioning. For that reason, these diseases often qualify. Insomnia is one of the key words to use at your appointment.

End Stage Glaucoma may be Helped by Cannabis

Glaucoma qualifies many for access to cannabis. Still, there is disagreement in the medical community as to how appropriate it is as treatment. All stages of glaucoma qualify. Cannabis is very effective at bringing down ocular pressure, which is why doctors prescribed it in the past. Recent research demonstrates that it can be difficult to keep a consistent level of cannabinoids in the body, causing pressure to go up and down. This actually increases the risk for loss of eye sight and is why updated treatment protocols call for cannabis prescription only for late stage glaucoma.


Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis and Cannabis

Multiple Sclerosis is a painful, uncomfortable disease that, like neurodegenerative conditions, affects multiple systems in the body. But, fortunately, cannabis seems to be able to help manage the most debilitating symptoms: muscle spasms, insomnia, nerve pain, inflammation, abdominal pain and discomfort, and also the depression and anxiety that can accompany diagnosis. Severe depression and/or anxiety are important to mention when you meet with your doctor.

Do I Qualify for Cannabis?

When approaching your physician for a cannabis recommendation, it is important to come with research and knowledge. Tell him or her the reasons why you believe cannabis will help manage your symptoms. Research into the medicinal benefits of cannabis are ongoing, but there is widespread acceptance that cannabis can help with: nausea, appetite, and pain management. Each state (and other legalized regions) has its own rules around qualifying for cannabis. This is unfortunate and frustrating for the patient looking to qualify for cannabis. Don’t give up. The relief from unwanted side effects will be worth it.

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Emily Robertson

Emily Robertson has been writing freelance and contract work since 2011. She has written on a variety of topics, including travel writing of North America and the growing legalized cannabis industry across the globe. Robertson has a master’s degree in literature and gender studies, and brings this through in her writing by always trying to explore different perspectives. Born and raised in southwestern Ontario, Robertson moved to Glasgow, Scotland in 2016 to undergo her doctorate in Scottish Literature. She lives in the West End with her dog, Henley.