March 26, 2014 9:10 AM   Subscribe

How do I get a medical marijuana card in Massachusetts?

I've suffered from anxiety and panic attacks along with IBS for decades. However, I only started pursuing anxiety treatment about a year ago with talk therapy. It hasn't really helped. I quit drinking about a year ago and have been exercising (running, cycling) for years which helps, but only temporarily.

In the past year or so my anxiety has manifested into physical symptoms where my doctor has prescribed me klonopin and also ambien for the insomnia episodes. She recently had me sign a benzodiazepine waiver to release her from liability with my use of this medication and to register me with the state. My use of klonopin has increased lately due to panic attacks. I know the risks/benefits of this drug and the benefits farrrr outweigh the risks.

I think I could be a good candidate for trying medical marijuana, however none of these issues are considered qualifying reasons. How would I go about working through the steps to get a card so that I can treat these problems and legally use one of the 35 dispensaries that our state is opening this year? I'm assuming I need to probably talk to my doctor. How do I do this without appearing like a stoner? I feel like there is such a stigma attached to thus, but I think it could be with a shot because it's not addictive like these other meds. I've kept with the talk therapy even though I feel it has only helped with the emotional pieces, not the physical. I can also get copies of all medical records if need be. I have a good job and my life together in all other aspects, if this means anything at all.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Talk to your doctor.

How do I do this without appearing like a stoner?

I'm not sure that's something you're going to be able to get around.
posted by valkyryn at 9:17 AM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Your doctor is already prescribing you Klonopin. She's not going to judge you for asking about medical marijuana. You have a history of anxiety on file, you're not a stoner coming in for the first time saying, "uh, my back hurts, can I have a pot card?" (Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course...)
posted by chowflap at 9:20 AM on March 26, 2014

I'm an attorney in Massachusetts. From what I've seen so far, most of the people you might describe as "stoners" aren't going to general practitioners for cards. They're going to dedicated centers that I will refrain from characterizing. In other words, by having this conversation with your primary care doctor, you might think of yourself as already having avoided the stigma problem you describe.

Of course, I've also heard about individual doctors having mixed opinions about the new law, so nobody can predict how your doctor might answer. But generally speaking, if you have a medical condition and there is a treatment you think might help you, that's an appropriate conversation to have with your doctor. Don't be shy. I'm not a doctor but the same principle holds in my profession, which is that if you're holding back information or questions because you're worried about how the professional might view you, then you're handicapping his or her ability to do the job of helping you. We're the people you're not supposed to worry about that stuff with.
posted by cribcage at 10:09 AM on March 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Do not go to your regular primary care doctor about this. Physician opinions about MMJ, particularly in the eastern U.S., are still all over the map, and it's quite possible you won't get a card. Instead, go see one of the doctors listed here. These folks are on board with the idea of prescribing pot and it's likely you'll have a positive outcome if you see them about it.

I see one doc in Quincy and another in Brookline on that list; those should be pretty convenient to you.
posted by killdevil at 10:09 AM on March 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

If your doctor treats you like a stoner - a probably irresponsible person who just wants pot to get high - then you really need to doctor-shop. You have IBS, which I understand to be chronic, difficult to manage, and generally misery-inducing. Pot may be a useful tool in managing it. And even if you like your doc a lot, and s/he treats you like a stoner, and says 'No', you can still proceed to a doc who's more likely to assist you, and still continue to see your doc. It's better if your doc knows about all your meds, but if your doc is rigid and judgmental, don't tell them you're using medical pot, except maybe if it's really successful and you want to educate them.

sheesh, we should so be over this by now. So sorry this is more stressful than it should be.
posted by theora55 at 10:26 AM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

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