With a little help from his friend
September 14, 2009 12:47 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to help a friend get a medical marijuana card in San Francisco, CA.

Although I'm asking for a friend, some people at work know my username here, and I don't want to deal with the "knowing looks" thing, hence the anon.

My friend Jay has HIV. He's on a number of meds, some of which make him sick to his stomach, and some of which kill his appetite altogether. He's talked to his doctor about medical marijuana; his doctor has had him try Marinol, but it hasn't worked well for him - he needs to hit a sort of sweet spot when he's both psychologically and physically wanting/able to eat, and the Marinol doesn't seem to work like that for him. His doc is reluctant (for her own reasons, I think, licensing and such, not because she's opposed to it) to prescribe it for him, and Jay is a little weirded out anyway about how it would appear in his insurance records.

So, the question: how can he find a doctor who will write him a prescription/recommendation (I'm not entirely certain how the process works, exactly)? He's seen the ads on the backs of the free weeklies, but he's hesitant about going that route if he doesn't have to. If you have personal recommendations, those would be welcome. If you don't want to broadcast your knowledge to the world, or have questions, you can email anonymedsSF at gmail. Thank you all!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
He should probably look around in this forum. I don't have any suggestions or experience to offer, but I think a lot of questions will get answered there if you have time to dig through the threads.
posted by crapmatic at 12:59 PM on September 14, 2009

Check out Medicann.

A friend of mine went to one of their locations to be evaluated and was successful in gaining a card after he provided proof of a visit to a chiropractor during the previous year.
posted by trueluk at 1:54 PM on September 14, 2009

I don't see why it's important what doctor he goes to for the prescription. I'm pretty sure HIV positive is a shoe-in for card approval. He can ask the club for a referral to a prescribing doctor and he's all set.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:57 PM on September 14, 2009

ditto Medicann -- costs about $100. Take any kind of paperwork, e.g. prescription (or the pills themselves.) Many regular doctors are nervous of the medical marijuana thing in case it leads to losing their credentials down the line.

(As an aside, so are hydroponic suppliers -- they're liable to RICO prosecution if you tell them you're growing the dreaded weed.)
posted by anadem at 2:20 PM on September 14, 2009

Here is the Finding a Doctor section for California on the Americans for Safe Access website. Also the San Francisco section for medical marijuana physicians from CA NORML.

And as a bonus, information from the SF Department on Public Health on how to get a card.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:31 PM on September 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

Another note: under California law, what a doctor writes is a recommendation, not a prescription. Doctors are free to recommend or not, as they choose, but it is completely legal under state law, so no one would lose their license for that, and courtesy of the US Supreme Court, California clinicians have protection from losing federal prescribing privileges for recommending medical cannabis.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:34 PM on September 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

Your friend has access to the SF Weekly, right? In the back of any alternative weekly in California, you'll note that there are a lot of ads for doctors who do medical marijuana consultation, often couched as "herbal medicine."

Having just overheard an interview from the waiting room of such a doctor's office here in LA, the patient gets a perfunctory physical, and basically asked to state that they have a medical condition that they believe will be, or has been, aided by marijuana. As the interview I overheard was essentially a renewal, the questions went, "Are you still having that trouble that marijuana helped with? Is your condition continuing to improve with marijuana?"

If the answer to both those questions is "Yes," then your friend will have a brand new prescription card. The interview mostly boils down to, "Do you feel better when you're high?"

The main advantage of going to a doctor who advertises in that manner (they also take out billboards here in LA) is the tacit understanding that they are merely an intermediary step to you getting marijuana, and thus have no real interest in denying you their recommendation. It is, of course, totally a subversion of the ostensible good faith of the voters of California, but since your friend has a legitimate need and because the voters of California endorsed the measure to offer medical marijuana with what might be termed obstinate naivete, I wouldn't worry so much about that.

I would recommend paying cash and not bothering to involve insurance in it. The prices for a consultation with a doctor of this ilk are roughly $100 to $150. A person unconcerned with the potential negative outcomes could defray that cost handily by pooling resources with other friends who are more interested in the recreational properties, depending upon their milieu. I have even heard of parties being thrown for the express purpose of financing a card for those who are in need and unable to wait for Obama's socialist utopia to cover the cost. Your friend, depending on finance, might appreciate such a party.
posted by klangklangston at 5:09 PM on September 14, 2009 [5 favorites]

what klangklangston said.
posted by zardoz at 6:09 PM on September 14, 2009

nthing Medicann. I went there. They were really nice, and helpful, and efficient. I brought a note from my doctor and they were grateful I had brought that, to streamline the process. But otherwise they were clean and professional.
posted by dithmer at 8:05 AM on September 15, 2009

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