How do I get a medical marijuana recommendation?

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For the better part of my life, I had been obtaining my supply of marijuana, which I have long thought of as medical, on the black market, often putting myself in unnecessarily dangerous situations.  However, living in a non-mmj state afforded me very few alternatives.  Although self-medicating with marijuana was my preferred treatment, I was obliged to also go on a reliable prescription course of Zoloft and Xanax for my anxiety and depression and countless Aleve tablets for my arthritis.  Upon arrival in Orange County, I lost both my doctor and my access to her prescription pad.  With no insurance, it was only a matter of months before my refills ran out.  When they did, I began in earnest researching medical marijuana recommendations and the dispensary system.

The first step was to obtain my California driver’s license, not just because my birthday was coming up and it was about to expire, but because I needed it to establish residency in the state to qualify for my recommendation.  Keep in mind that, although most doctors and dispensaries in the medical marijuana business will be more than happy to accept your temporary license, some have a policy requiring your photo ID.  If you are declined service, know that there are plenty of options in Orange County.  However, if you already have a driver’s license or state ID, then you have all you need to get your recommendation card.

A quick Google search will give you several choices of doctors and offices that specialize in just medical marijuana recommendations.  To simplify my choices among a number of options, I picked up an OC Weekly and tore out the first coupon I saw in the back section.  I would strongly advise this approach, as the coupon saved me $35 and a ton of added research.  The office I chose was 4th Street Medical, a small office in Santa Ana.  I was anxious about going to get my card—mostly because I suffer from anxiety and had been off my medication for a few weeks.  I was worried I would be turned down.  I did not have a local doctor and my prescriptions had expired.  As advised online, I brought my empty pill bottles and hoped it would be enough to convince the doctor I qualified.

I had the day off and was in no rush when I went to get my rec, so I decided to forgo making an appointment and walked in just before lunch.  After some preliminary paperwork, I was guided to sit in the waiting room as the doctor finished with another patient.  The doctor’s office door was open during his previous appointment, which I thought was oddly undiscerning.  However, the easy nature of the process was also comforting.  After a short wait, I was called in and took a seat across from the doctor, an older man with an abundance of diplomas on the wall.  He absentmindedly flipped through my paper work, read me a prepared information sheet discussing the dangers of smoking (he advised edibles as the healthiest method) and transporting medical marijuana, and then we had a frank discussion on how to avoid trouble with the law.  All of which was helpful, but none of it was new to me as I had found it all doing research ahead of time.  He then had me sign off on some more forms and handed me my recommendation, which is not actually a card but an 8×11 letter.  We shot the breeze for a few moments, since he didn’t have any waiting patients, and I found him to be quite affable.  He asked if I knew of a dispensary to visit, and I told him I was new to the area and completely lost in the process.  He then directed me to a place across the street.  Although it is technically against regulation for him to endorse a dispensary, I really couldn’t have appreciated the advice more because I was well taken care of there.   Then I went to the front desk to pay, using cash, though they do accept cards for a $2 fee.  In all, from car door to car door, the whole process took no longer than a half an hour, and when I walked out, I was granted permission by the state of California to obtain and medicate with marijuana.

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