Ethical to get Medical Marijuana Card?
July 13, 2017 2:50 PM   Subscribe

I support the legalization of marijuana. I don't regularly use it. I live in a state where medical marijuana is legal but highly restricted to certain conditions. I happen to have one of those conditions, although it is currently well-controlled via biologics. Is it ethical and/or helpful to the cause for me to get a medical marijuana card (although I don't plan on actually USING it)? I feel compelled to in an effort to destigmatize the whole thing more (being an Upstanding White Woman in the Community) but I also feel like since I don't actually NEED it at the moment, it would be just playing the system. Thoughts?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (19 answers total)
How would you getting a card "destigmatize the whole thing more"? Are you going to show it to everyone you meet? Wear it on a lanyard around your neck?
posted by Julnyes at 2:55 PM on July 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

Unless you expect your status to come up in a FOIA request (I watched Weeds) who would know except as a tick on a count of card holders in an aggregate data context?

Other than that, getting it as a "just in case" (based on your stated current medical condition and success with your treatment plan) and assuming I don't have to pass a background check on my own or for my spouse, why not?
posted by tilde at 3:05 PM on July 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

I would get it simply because I think you should keep your options open in case you do need it one day and then when it is time sensitive to have it, you won't have to go through the red tape then.

Is it helpful to the cause? What cause? You getting a license will affect no one but you unless you are willing to use that access to help out friends who may need it but have a non covered condition. Then you would be crossing some other ethical (and legal) line. Will an Upstanding White Woman in the Community getting a card help de-stigmatize it? Not for the people that oppose it and not for the people that already support it, so no. I happen to think that the majority of americans think it is one big yawn and should be legalized if for no other reason the state will collect some tax revenue and regulate the quality. Like anything else, most politicians are afraid to support it because of a conservative vocal minority.
posted by AugustWest at 3:08 PM on July 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

I feel compelled to in an effort to destigmatize the whole thing more (being an Upstanding White Woman in the Community) but I also feel like since I don't actually NEED it at the moment, it would be just playing the system

If you're not planning on using it, how would that help in destigmatizing it? I feel like you're completely over thinking this. Just get the card, you'll find most people don't really care one way or another.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 3:24 PM on July 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

I guess I would view this as ethically (and otherwise) completely neutral. I'm not sure how it is helping any cause or legitimizing anything to have one more random person obtaining a medical marijuana card, especially one they are just going to, I guess, stick in their wallet and never use? But, it's certainly not hurting anything, so if it makes you feel better, go for it. Be aware you will probably need to go to a doctor specific to this purpose and it likely isn't going to be covered by insurance -- your regular primary care doc is unlikely to prescribe, especially if there's no clear medical need, and they tend to outsource to clinics that just do medical marijuana cards. So, there will likely be some financial cost even if you don't purchase any pot using the card. At least, that's how it was in my old state that had medical marijuana (I currently live in a state with full legalization).

If you care about this issue, I think it would be much more meaningful/useful to get involved with a legalization campaign in your state, lobby your state representatives, etc.
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:48 PM on July 13, 2017

Duuuuude(tte), just get the card.
posted by zippy at 4:30 PM on July 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

If you want to use marijuana for any reason, get the card. If you don't plan on actually taking any marijuana, don't bother getting the card. There's no ethical obligation either way, and there's no practical need for you to get a card unless you want access to marijuana.

As someone with multiple conditions that make me eligible for a medical marijuana card, I can assure you that I am not concerned in the slightest whether someone else gets one.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:52 PM on July 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

Unless you have a specific/immediate concern (like if your work found out, you would lose your security clearance and get fired), I would say go ahead and get it. Before weed was legalized here, medical cards were the way people could use to buy it without risk of arrest -- it's not like there is any shortage of weed, so you having a card and maybe using it recreationally doesn't take that weed away from someone else.

I'll also note that even for people whose health is well controlled with biologics, there can be helpful pain control and relaxation uses for weed -- it's not a complete either/or, and if your health changes you may come to appreciate the medical card.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:54 PM on July 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

You have a medical condition. That condition would allow you to get a prescription for a specific medication. I see no ethical dilemma. Pot has been demonized, but it's a useful drug.

I don't think getting the prescription does anything to change the acceptance of pot as a useful drug, but I'm just some person on the web, so carry on.

Personally, getting legal pot and not noticing that your partner or pal uses this relatively safe drug wouldn't bother me a bit, as long as nobody drives stoned.
posted by theora55 at 5:06 PM on July 13, 2017

Get the card. You don't actually get a 'prescription' for pot. That's a doctor saying their best recommendation is for you to use x at y intervals for a set period of time. With pot, you get a recommendation that validates you have a qualified condition, and the doctor feels there might be some benefit from using pot if you desire. It's very CYA.

I would maybe get something very low dosage. High CBD, low THC. You don't even have to use it, but if you sincerely believe that it might help you if your current treatment fails for whatever reason, it's nice to have those hurdles already jumped. And it adds a level of authenticity, if you want to be able to say "I dunno, I have a card, and I don't think I'm a drug seeking weirdo chasing a high"

FWIW, I finally got a card for my anxiety. My experience on illegal pot was zero tolerance, a ton of fatigue and a bit of anxiety/paranoia, so it was not something that I anticipated ever really using. But suddenly I was hit with crazy insomnia, and felt uncomfortable with prescription sleep aids.
posted by politikitty at 5:30 PM on July 13, 2017

Don't get it. There are quite a few negative ramifications and you don't know what those are now or could be in the future. At one point the Canadian border was not letting people with weed cards through, that was years ago but who knows in the future. It also affects security clearances, some private jobs etc- anything federal. There is no upside for you and lots of potential and unknown downsides.
posted by fshgrl at 6:12 PM on July 13, 2017

Do you want to smoke weed (or otherwise consume MJ) as part of a protected class? If yes, get the recommendation for an MMJ card. If you don't want to use weed as part of a protected class, don't get the card. I think it's really as simple as that, and I don't think there's a greater political statement to be made here.

I cannot predict the future, and I cannot predict future attitudes towards MJ, but with multiple states currently legalizing its recreational use, it seems that much of the US has already moved a looooooong way towards de-stigmatizing it. I would be fearful of being caught smoking weed without legal protection in a state where consuming recreational MJ still carried civil and/or criminal penalties, especially since I qualified for a MMJ card, the CYA of legal protection in this case. If this were me, I would get the MMJ card so I could acquire and consume MJ legally and relatively stress-free.
posted by mosk at 10:38 PM on July 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'd get it if you think you should use it for yourself or you have loved ones who'd like some weed, (Look, I know it's illegal, but it's dumb that it's illegal and you won't get in trouble if you only share with people you trust/are close with.) I wouldn't get it for the reasons you mention, though, because they don't make sense.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:39 PM on July 13, 2017

I vote don't get it.

Some states are considering allowing medical marijuana. These states look at the number of people getting cards in other states.

If they see 100% of people who can get cards, getting cards, they will know some people are abusing the system. They know some folks don't need marijuana to control some diseases. This just gives states ammunition. I actually think you are making pot less available to cancer patients who really need it, if you get a card you don't need in this situation. Lower numbers of cards may push more conservative states to also allow mm.
posted by Kalmya at 1:48 AM on July 14, 2017

This is a funnily timed question, because I'm in your basic demographic and I decided last week to see a prescribing doc about a card to help with insomnia. Here's some stuff I learned along the way:

1. They don't AUTOMATICALLY give cards to everyone. I met with a nurse and two doctors before they enrolled me in the state system and they took a detailed history. I learned that sometimes they give 3-month cards.

2. In my state, Massachusetts, once you have the card, then you have to buy from a legal dispensary. The dispensary tracks on the government's website exactly what you buy. So if you have worries in that direction, DO NOT get a card.

3. The doctors I met were more than happy to explain everything about MMJ and better, about various dispensaries and how to work with those people.

4. They gave me a heads' up that some dispensary workers may not really care about helping with a medical condition and believe that yeah, you're actually there to get high only. So they prepared me for that, which I unfortunately found was accurate in one dispensary I went to.

5. However, dispensaries are nothing like you just go to Walgreens and all Walgreens and CVS are the same. Totally different experience. So having the card is one step, finding a dispensary is another, THEN...

6. It becomes "choose your own adventure" with trying different strains. In my case, I realized I just felt really stupid lighting up and the strains I tried got me weirdly paranoid but also like I took too much Nyquil. So I was totally unable to drive or do much more than stare at Chopped (which I found confusing. I do not normally find Ted Allen confusing so I assume I was baked but it wasn't enjoyable), AND it did nothing for insomnia.

7. I've been assured once you get a good fit, it's a good thing, but there's a steep learning curve where one thing you discover is--it's a LONG way from getting a needed medical card to becoming a person who uses weed medically.

Get the card. Keep the industry in business.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:26 AM on July 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

I think you should totally get the card.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 4:59 AM on July 14, 2017

it's not like there is any shortage of weed,

To correct what I wrote above -- there isn't any overall shortage of weed, but because federal law prohibits selling it across state lines, some states are dealing with local shortages of legal weed, e.g., Nevada. And Canada is also apparently dealing with a potential shortage, because legal growers haven't been able to expand fast enough for national recreational legalization in 2018.

So if your area is dealing with shortages to the point that medical users are having trouble getting weed, then it would be a kind thing to not buy some for a while until the supply can be ramped up. But that's not a question of getting the card or not, just whether or not to buy the weed at a given point in time.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:21 AM on July 14, 2017

Get it. Unless there are a limited number of "cards" available, in which case you may deprive someone of access who intends to use it, it is fully ethically justifiable for you to get it.

In California, the "card" is not necessary. One only needs a physician's recommendation. The card is a thing some people pay for for some reason in addition to the recommendation. I have a recommendation and have never had a card. This will be moot soon as marijuana will be fully legal next year, and recommendations/cards will be a thing of the past.

I, too, have one of those conditions and I try to avoid the biologics and steroids prescribed for it. High CBD strains of marijuana have been a very huge help. I'm very grateful for the access my recommendation has granted me in the last decade. Should you go through the process, you'll have access when you need it should you need it in the future.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:50 AM on July 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm also an Upstanding White Woman in the Community. I have a card, which amuses me, but nobody knows it except the people in the store -- it's not hidden, but it doesn't come up in conversation. What's probably more useful for destigmatizing it is my being open on Facebook about my use of CBDs to treat my head injury (two stigmas at once!). So maybe you talk publicly, non-anonymously, on the social media of your choice about how you've heard it can help? Ask friends for medical marijuana advice? Make it clear that you're pro-pot and that you're willing to discuss it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:00 PM on July 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

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