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The Beginner’s Guide: Purchasing Medical Marijuana

October 16, 2019 • Lakewood Medical • Uncategorized

Thinking about medical marijuana to treat an ongoing condition? Here’s what you need to know about making your first purchase. 

For Ohio patients interested in starting medical marijuana treatment, the idea of actually purchasing cannabis may be intimidating. While many patients are familiar with picking up a prescription from a pharmacy, obtaining and using a recommendation at a dispensary is a new experience. 

However, the novelty of medical cannabis shouldn’t deter any Ohioan or their caregiver from pursuing a treatment option that provides relief from a variety of painful disorders and improves quality of life. If you’re purchasing medical marijuana for the first time, here’s what you need to know: 

How Do I Get Started?

Though Ohio approved cannabis for medicinal purposes in 2016, patients seeking medical marijuana must follow specific guidelines before they can purchase products from a state-authorized dispensary. 

If you have a condition for which medical marijuana is authorized under Ohio law, talk to your doctor about adding medical cannabis to your treatment regimen. Then, make an appointment with a doctor certified by the state to recommend medical marijuana. Only qualified medical professionals can counsel you on the steps you need to take, the terminology, where to purchase medical marijuana, the proper dosage, and the type of medical marijuana best suited for your condition. 

Note that doctors cannot prescribe medical marijuana, but after a thorough review of your health status, they can recommend its use for one of 21 qualifying medical conditions, including chronic pain, glaucoma, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. During this initial visit, you’ll be asked to show proof of residency with a passport or driver’s license. 

Then, a certification is filed with the Ohio Medical Marijuana patient portal. In the portal, patients can register, pay a fee ($50 a year for patients and caregivers), and download the recommendation. This is sometimes referred to as a “marijuana card,” yet it’s actually a printout confirming the qualifying condition. With the recommendation in hand, you are now permitted to visit one of the state’s 57 dispensaries that sell medical marijuana products. 

Basics of Purchasing Medical Cannabis

Once you have a recommendation and the proper registration, you can choose the nearby dispensary that’s most convenient for you. Be sure to check the dispensary’s open hours, and you may wish to call ahead to confirm that they will have the correct product available. Some dispensaries are crowded at particular times, so you should plan ahead in case you have to wait. While you can have one guest with you in the waiting room, only registered patients and caregivers may come to the dispensary floor, so it may be best to leave others at home, especially children. 

Once you’re at the dispensary, simply show the attendant your paperwork. They will take time to confirm your registration and identification, and you may be asked to stay in a waiting room during this process. You’ll potentially be asked to complete a questionnaire about your condition, treatment goals, and prior experience with medical marijuana.

The next step is for a dispensary care coordinator to accompany you to the dispensing floor, where they can help you choose the correct product. You and your doctor may have discussed which product option is most appropriate for your situation, but the dispensary attendant will also be able to advise you further. Dispensaries offer a variety of medical marijuana strains at different potency levels, including Indica, Hybrid, and Sativa. All dispensaries should have marijuana buds available, and at this point, most Ohio dispensaries should also be able to offer a choice of products, like topical creams or tinctures, that deliver the same therapeutic benefits of marijuana. 

One popular method to deliver medical marijuana is vaporization, and if you choose this method, you’ll also need to invest in a vaporizer, which should be available for purchase at most dispensaries. This is a special instrument used to heat marijuana until it emits a “mist” that the patient can inhale. Unlike smoking medical marijuana (which isn’t permitted under Ohio law), vaporization is thought to produce fewer harmful effects on the respiratory system.

No matter the method you choose, the dispensary may be able to provide you with additional information about how to take your medication once you’re home. As you check out at the dispensary, note that your information goes into the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System for controlled substances. And when you leave the space, be sure that your marijuana stays within its opaque bag as you travel home, and then kept within the original labeled packaging, according to state rules. 

Find Out More About Medical Marijuana

The physicians at Lakewood Medical Clinic are certified to recommend medical marijuana to our patients, and they are experienced in talking with patients who have never before considered medical marijuana as a potential therapy. They are here to steer you through the process and ensure you receive the compassionate therapy you deserve to help you live a better life. Contact the office today for an appointment. We are happy to answer all your questions.