I want to get a medical mj card for my anxiety, but I'm too scared to go. It still doesn't feel safe. Anyone actually go to one of these "evaluations" that you see in ads on the weeklys?
February 22, 2009 3:37 PM   Subscribe

I want to get a medical mj card for my anxiety, but I'm too scared to go. It still doesn't feel safe. Anyone actually go to one of these "evaluations" that you see in ads on the weeklys?

I'm considering trying to go to one of these 'evaluations' but I'm pretty scared to go. I know lot of people who told me they went to see some 'fictional' doctor, with some oddly pronounced name. So I imagine these doctors are just guys who are licensed but just went off in another direction, and they know most of the users just want to 'score some good s**t' and.. I guess I feel like I'm not sure if I go there with the intent that I really do have anxiety issues, or what I'm supposed to do. Do I wink at him, like.. we all know what the deal is here!! Or do I act really serious, I have no clue. Are they really strict about it, like if they suspect people just there for an easy hookup do they kick them out?

I feel funny because I really want this for my anxiety. I probably could run or exercise everyday but an occasional toke does the trick. I feel if I go there I'll sound like just another guy trying to score some easy weed.

And what exactly is the procedure? Do these so-called doctors they claim in the ads give you a prescription, and that is all you need?

If anyone has been to one of these places what was your experience with it?
posted by 0217174 to Society & Culture (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The process is a little different from state to state, but Americans for Safe Access has excellent and reliable information about the legal and medical aspects. I don't have any personal experience to share, sorry.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:51 PM on February 22, 2009

A friend of mine answered an ad in SF Weekly (I think) a few years ago. The person who answered immediately asked for his home address, so my friend hung up. If they noted his number from the caller ID, they never called it.

That's not as helpful or detailed an answer as you were probably hoping for, but I thought it might be useful to know that you might get a sense of how legit or safe you feel if you just dial.
posted by juliplease at 3:55 PM on February 22, 2009

I don't know anything about the "evaluations" you've mentioned, but I can help you break through your anxiety with some simple logic:

1) If the "doctor" evaluating you is legit, then you'll need a legit reason to get a card, and a legit expectation that MJ will work more effectively for you than other treatments. Whether you do or don't have these, there's no reason not to try. Unless, of course, the consultation costs money you can't afford to waste.

2) If the "doctor" evaluating you isn't really legit but can still get you a legit card, then the odds are pretty good you'd need to pay for his recommendation. If this is the case, then go for it as long as you're sure you'll get what you're paying for.

The doctor's motives and your motives don't have to line up. If the doctor just wants cash in exchange for a card, then your motives won't matter to him. If the doctor is only giving cards to those who legitimately should have them, then like I said previously, you'll need to just try and see what happens.

I don't know how US doctors benefit from prescribing marijuana... do they get kickbacks and the like as they would from a traditional drug company? If so, the motives of the doctors running these ads can be pretty clearly inferred. If not, I'm rather confused about why a legit doctor would run the ad, unless the evaluation has a nice fee associated with it. If that's the case, then it's still in the doctor's best interest to hand out as many cards as viable, because that's what will keep more people coming in for evaluations.

If the whole system of evaluations and ads you describe is pretty new, I'd be more suspicious. It could be a scam that simply hasn't fallen apart yet.

You say you know people who successfully attended an evaluation and got cards. You want a card. Do what those people did. Your reasons are irrelevant.
posted by chudmonkey at 3:57 PM on February 22, 2009

Someone I know got a recommend from a Dr. at Med Stop, who was removing stitches from a work related injury.There was no charge for the recommendation ,It was simply written out on a Rx pad and signed by the Dr. Helps his asthma was the reason.
posted by hortense at 4:02 PM on February 22, 2009

Last year there was a pretty good New Yorker article about medical marijuana in CA. Among other things, it reports that there are "legit" doctors with substantial practices in medical marijuana consultation, who simply see a patient once for a brief discussion and then sign a letter approving the drug (if they judge it appropriate). IIRC some of them even have regular office hours at medical marijuana dispensaries. Why not call a local dispensary and see if you can find such a doctor?
posted by grobstein at 4:33 PM on February 22, 2009

do they get kickbacks and the like as they would from a traditional drug company?

posted by gjc at 5:44 PM on February 22, 2009

If you're in California, the process is very straightforward. Call up a doctor and make an appointment (local weeklies are full of ads for mj-recommending doctors). Here in Humboldt County, it's $150 evaluation fee - I've never known anyone to be turned down. I spoke to the (longhaired) doctor about insomnia and the sweet relief of the sweet leaf, and I had my recommendation in minutes. There's a "Physician's Recommendation for Therapeutic Cannibus" certificate you'll be able to pick up in about a week, which is good for one year. Bring this to your local medicinal marijuana clinic and buy some chronic.

Give 'em a call, don't be shy! It opens the door to medicinal mj clinics which are a luxury I can't live without.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:02 PM on February 22, 2009

Be cautious if you ever plan to work somewhere tha requires a clearance as there will be a background investigation. I have no idea if this is a redflag or not (the NSA guys I knew were pothead mathematicians, but they were also prodigies and thus special cases) but it's something to keep in mind.
posted by rr at 6:10 PM on February 22, 2009

Having attended a recruitment seminar by one of those spook agencies (not spooky enough-- I made off with a large portion of the cheese tray at the end), I can tell you that my recruiter made it clear that so long as you don't smoke at time of recruitment (or during employment) and have been clean for awhile, a couple bong hits won't disqualify you from security clearance.
posted by The White Hat at 7:03 PM on February 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks -- that's good to know. Still, there's a big difference between a few bong hits in college and getting a prescription for frequent, extended use for anxiety. If you have knowledge about how that is viewed, it would be a good addition.
posted by rr at 7:42 PM on February 22, 2009

Best answer: I live in Los Angeles, CA. Here's the deal:

A lot of med mj docs are good guys, but some are just looking for a pay day. I recommend 877-got-kush. If he turns you down, he doesn't charge you for anything.

You need to show up to the evaluation with proof from ANOTHER doctor that shows you have anxiety. It has to be a condition that has already been diagnosed. Don't expect the mj doc to diagnose it.

Have you gone to your regular doctor complaining about anxiety? Call your doctor's office, ask for a copy of your medical records (you don't have to tell them why and they won't ask). Sometimes they charge $10 or $15 to make the copies. Bring those medical records to the mj doc, and show him that you have been diagnosed as having anxiety. Tell him you would rather be use mj than be on xanax or other pills.

Don't abuse your RX!!!! Don't sell to ANYONE, don't loan it out to your friends.
posted by secretsecret at 7:52 PM on February 22, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the useful info. Secretx2 is that the one off the billboards? I wasn't sure about that place as the name just spelled trouble. But I'm thinking maybe going to a 'sketchy' place is better if I'm going for anxiety only. I did have a prescription for Xanax, but it was from Kaiser and they never diagnosed me, I basically went in there and said "can I have some?". My concern is the safer legit places won't prescribe for anxiety but only things like chemo, hiv, chronic back pain, etc.
posted by 0217174 at 9:16 PM on February 22, 2009

Best answer: The place on the billboards with the 800 number is legit. Their office is in West Hollywood.

It's seriously not a big deal. You go in, sit in the waiting room for fifteen minutes and read pamphlets that educate you on what in particular MJ does for common disorders it's known to relieve. This is to aid you in explaining your situation and need in the most apt way, once you're shown in. You fill out a typical new patient questionnaire.

They call your name and take you back to the doctor. You meet in an office, not an exam room. He reviews the questionnaire and asks you some basic question about your problem and symptoms, including its history and what treatment you've received or are currently receiving and how you expect MJ to help you. Provided you're not treating the whole thing like slapstick, he then gives you a general outline of what MJ will do for your specific condition in terms of relief of symptoms and typically admonishes you to consume it via edibles or a vaporizer so as not to damage your lungs.

Then you shake hands and you go down the hall to the assistant, who prints up your certificate and fills you in on the do's and don'ts under the law.

And then you're on your way for a year. Memail me if you've got more questions or need further reassurance.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:33 PM on February 22, 2009

And snuffy, you don't need a referral from another doctor? Can you use a bogus name? That's the concern I think folks like the OP have -- can you get into this thing without a real ID?
posted by Rash at 11:53 AM on February 23, 2009

Check out O'Shaughnessy's for medical, legal, and political news around the movement. Current copies at your local dispensary, attorney's office, or doctor's office.

The author is sponsored by a patients group; here's his list of doctors and attorneys who specialize in this area. The only one on that list you might want to avoid is Hany Assad, his cards have been rejected by several counties.

Here's a FAQ on becoming a medical MJ patient by an Oakland cooperative:

"How do I become a medical marijuana patient?
There are many websites that can walk you through the process, but essentially if you suffer from a medical condition which interferes with you ability to perform normal social activities, you can obtain a recommendation from a California licensed Medical Doctor to use medical marijuana. While any doctor can sign your recommendation, most Doctor will not do so out of fear of prosecution. Therefore there are Doctors whose sole medical practice is to issue these recommendations. You can find lists of such doctors at CANORML and more information on the subject at the Americans for Safe Access websites. "

In terms of behavior with the doctor, being earnest and honest about your condition is your best bet as with most all medical advice and treatment.

For your own protection, be sure to get a card and certificate that have a official look - this is not required by the law but it does help when dealing with law enforcement or dispensaries. You can ask to see an example of what your card or certificate will look like before going through with an appointment. A photocopied paper is the minimum, a card with a holograph and a certificate with an impressed seal including contact information and means of verification would be ideal generally.
posted by unclezeb at 3:10 PM on February 23, 2009

I recently went through this myself due to daily headaches. I found a place in West Los Angeles and it wasn't that big of a deal. I waited in the waiting room with about 12 other people and filled out a form, then waited about an hour to see the doc. The doctor was nice enough, and asked what my condition was and if I'd already seen my regular physician about it and had documentation. It was quite painless in the end. You do have to give real information identifying yourself as they take a copy of your ID, which you will also need to show to the dispensary's you visit.

It's completely worth it to not ever have to visit a shady dealer ever again.

Email me if you have any questions.
posted by razzamatazm at 4:13 PM on February 23, 2009

And snuffy, you don't need a referral from another doctor? Can you use a bogus name? That's the concern I think folks like the OP have -- can you get into this thing without a real ID?

You need a real ID, that's the whole point. What use is being legit under an assumed name?

Depending upon what condition you're presenting with, how detailed you can be about the history and previous treatments received, etc. you may or may not need documentation. Different doctors may also feel differently. My history with the conditions I got my prescription for (iatrogenic arthritis, migraines) is long standing enough that the succession of treatments received over years that I reeled off seemed to do the trick.

I think by far the most common complaint is depression, anxiety or insomnia and it is typically substantiated by bringing a bottle of currently prescribed paxil, xanax or ambien or whatever. Arthritis is another common complaint, and it can either be evident, documented via a verbal history as above, with prescriptions, or actual documentation.

If they feel they need more documentation, they'll politely say so and explain.

Remember, this is all perfectly legal. There's no reason to be afraid or act all sketched out.

As to the official state card, some people may or may not want that. It is a higher level of visibility, as it puts you into a database maintained by the State of California. All you need for local purposes is the recommendation you obtain from "your doctor"--the clinic doctor. (When reading the stuff on the official sites keep that distinction in mind--for the purposes of the law your "treating physician" is the clinic doctor and the documentation you provide the state when getting a card is the recommendation we're talking about obtaining.) You can go to dispensaries with just the recommendation (aka prescription) and each will make and retain a copy--but those are protected by HIPAA and other laws/rights.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:41 PM on February 23, 2009

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