How to get your Florida medical marijuana card in 10 easy steps

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Half a million Floridians have officially turned to the marijuana plant for medical relief since the first dispensary opened in 2016, according the state patient registry.

Nearly five years after the first medical marijuana dispensary opened in Florida, the number of licensed patients is crossing the half-million mark. With an assist from Sarasota’s Brad Weinstock, patient consultant director at Cannabis Theory’s clinic and host of WSLR-FM’s “Cannabis Connection Show” at 6:30 p.m. on Fridays, here’s how you can join the crowd. All quotes are from Weinstock.

1. Make sure you’re 18

You can’t buy beer until you’re 21, but a beer card doesn’t cost $75. That’s how much a medical weed card will set you back, for every year you want to renew.

2. Find a qualifying ailment

To get a card, you’ll need to find a qualifying affliction at the Office of Medical Marijuana Use. There are plenty to choose from, including Parkinson’s, any kind of cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress, and more. Restrictions on related conditions that aren’t listed, such as anxiety or insomnia, are squishy and negotiable.

3. Get a prescription

You’ll need a prescription before you can get that card. Google “cannabis” and “physicians” and wherever you live for a list of doctors authorized by the state to fix you up. You’ll have plenty of choices.

More:Sarasota police were supposed to be issuing citations for marijuana. They arrested people instead.

4. Shop around for a doctor

Comparison shop for expertise. “A lot of doctors are doing it just because it’s an extra revenue stream and it only requires, like, four hours of watching a video and passing a test, which is mostly about regulation. You’ll get a lot more education by visiting a clinic where cannabis is all they do.”

5. Shop around some more

Comparison shop for consultation pricing, because physicians can charge pretty much whatever they want. “Doctors have the option through the state to choose the system they want to set up. They can authorize a 30-day supply and make you come back in a month, or they can go all the way up to a 210-day supply.”

Why is the maximum cap set at 210 days if the card is good for a year? “I don’t know. It’s Florida, it’s arbitrary – 210 plus 210 equals what?”

Answer: 420. (That’s right. A stoner joke).

6. Conference remotely

Typically, you’ll need an office visit, but thanks to COVID-19, telehealth conferences are permitted and you don’t even have to go in. “You’re supposed to have some sort of supporting paperwork for your condition, but in reality a lot of physicians don’t require it because they’ve been doing it for so long.”

More:Sarasota County asks Legislature for local control if recreational marijuana is legalized

7. Have $125 ready, perhaps in cash

Consultation fees: Some offices take cash only, others will accept credit cards. Cannabis Theory charges $125 for the initial consultation, then $125 at the 210-day mark if you want to restock your supply afterwards. “Getting a 30-day supply is not a place you want to go. There’s some doctors who’ll charge $700, $800 by time you’re done.”

8. Check your inbox

Consultation completed, the physician will register you in the state patient database. A personal email of notification from the Office of Medical Marijuana Use will arrive in your inbox with instructions on how to complete your application. You’ll have to upload your driver’s license photo or state ID.

9. Have another $75 ready

Application complete, you’ll be prompted to pay $75. You can snail-mail a check or money order to the Department of Health. Or, if you choose to pay by e-check or credit card, you’ll get hit for an extra $2.75, known as a “convenience fee.”

More:Banking on marijuana: A Bradenton entrepreneur will explain how it’s done

10. Print out your temporary card

Within a week or so, you’ll get an email to print out and use as a temporary card to get you into the dispensary ASAP to relieve the stress. Within two weeks, your real card will arrive in a nondescript envelope, so be sure to open everything that looks like junk mail.

A year later, you’ll be able to do this in your sleep.

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