How to Get Your Medical Marijuana Card in Arizona

Proposition 203 or the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act was passed in November 2010, allowing patients suffering from certain painful and debilitating conditions, access to marijuana. The Arizona Department of Health Services ADHS is responsible for governing the matters regarding the medical marijuana law and issuing the Medical Marijuana Card or the Cannabis Card in Arizona.

What Qualifies as Medical Purposes?

If you are suffering from any of the following conditions, you get legal state protection and convenient access to marijuana in Arizona:

  • Cancer
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Cachexia or Wasting Syndrome
  • Severe and Chronic Pain
  • Severe Nausea
  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Seizures and Epilepsy
  • Hepatitis C
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Crohn’s Disease

The important thing to note here is that in addition to the diseases and conditions mentioned in the Act, the Severe and Chronic Pain category might include pain resulting from any condition or treatment of a condition. Extremely painful conditions like Sickle Cell Anemia may not be listed; however, since it may cause excruciating pain, you may be able to qualify for a medical marijuana card. Similarly, painful rehabilitation programs may be a basis to qualify.

How and Where to Get the Medical Marijuana Card?

If you have already been diagnosed with one or more conditions listed above, and have medical records of the past 12 months showing you have been treated for the said conditions, you can apply for a medical marijuana card. You will need a recommendation from a doctor licensed to dispense medical marijuana in AZ, as your application must accompany a signed Medical Marijuana Physician Certification Form along with documents proving your identification.

You can submit your application online; however, it is best to schedule an appointment with a medical marijuana doctor who can submit your application for you along with the required documents to the ADHS. This allows you hassle free access to your Medical Marijuana Card that will likely be mailed to you within 10 days of your doctor’s visit.

What to Bring When You Go?

When you visit a state-approved medical marijuana physician for your certification, you must bring following things with you:

  • A copy of a valid Arizona ID like Arizona’s Driver License or Arizona Identification Card
  • A current photograph
  • A valid and current credit card, debit card or a pre-paid card
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) documentation

Your doctor will provide and submit following forms in addition to your marijuana card application:

  • Signed and dated Medical Marijuana Patient Attestation
  • Medical Marijuana Physician Certification Program

If you are under 18 years old, you must also provide information about the legal guardian or caregiver

How Much Does It Cost?

Even though you are receiving access to marijuana for medical purposes, the insurance companies do not cover the state’s medical marijuana application fee or medical marijuana physician consultations. You will need to pay following fees to get your medical marijuana card:

  • $150 dollar state fee, if you participate in SNAP program (food stamps) you have to pay $75
  • Around $100-$150 for your medical marijuana doctor’s consultation and recommendation fee

You can expect to pay anywhere around $300, if you are looking to get most of the documentation and process sorted out by your physician’s office.

How to Renew Your Card?

Your medical marijuana card will expire one year after the issue date. The expiry date is clearly mentioned on the right side of your card. It is important that you apply for the renewal at least 30 days before the expiry date. You cannot apply more than 90 days prior to the expiration. The renewal process is similar to the initial application for your card, requiring you to submit same yet updated documents and costing you the same amount of money.

How to Get Your Medical Marijuana 

There are about 100 state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in Arizona. It is important to access a quality dispensary near you, when looking to buy legal medical marijuana. You need to bring your marijuana card as well as a government issued ID to get the amount and kind of marijuana you need to help you with your medical condition.

How Medical Marijuana Can Improve the Quality of Life for Many Military Vets

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a major health risk for many U.S. veterans. It can severely impair the quality of life and in some cases can lead to life-terminating consequences. Highly stressful and life-threatening experiences in combat leave the marines more susceptible to developing the symptoms of PTSD. PTSD is thought to be the driving force behind this.

It is apparent that PTSD among vets is a health emergency. Physical injuries play an important role in bringing down the quality of their life as well. Various pain-killers, anti-anxiety drugs, anti-depressants and sedatives offered by the healthcare providers do not seem to bring about significant improvement. Marijuana is something that has shown encouraging potential to help with various psychological and physiological issues faced by vets.

The use of marijuana among military vets is on the rise all across the U.S. Even the states where cannabis is not legal, many vets are opting to try out the health benefits of marijuana. According to VA, more than 22% war veterans were using cannabis in the year 2014. That figure has likely gone up since.

The cannabinoids present in various strains of marijuana affect the endocannabinoid system in the human body to reduce the symptoms and effects of PTSD. Vets with PTSD have higher levels of cannabinoids receptors. This makes marijuana a helpful solution for various stress related problems.

The following are some of the many ways marijuana has been shown to improve the quality of life for many vets:

Improved Mental Health

The overall emotional and psychological health of vets suffering from stress disorders is significantly compromised. Reliving the stressful combat scenarios through flashbacks and nightmares can induce impairments, like sleeplessness, depression and anxiety. Occupational instability, family discord, feelings of detachment and estrangement are also common among many vets.

Cannabis is anxiolytic. This is to say it helps reduce anxiety. The anti-depressant qualities of marijuana are also coming to the forefront. Impairment in short-term memory is one of the side effects of marijuana use. Our endocannabinoid system regulates our fear and deals with memory retention. Cannabis affects the system to induce memory impairment. This helps vets’ manage their flashbacks better and improve their ability to deal with stress.

Cannabis has a calming effect on our brain. Many vets are in the state of “constant emotional arousal”. This leads to sleep apnea as well as outbursts of anger and violence. It is hard to focus and concentrate as their brain feels it has to be alert and on guard all the times. Cannabis helps cope with this problem and encourages a calmer and Zen approach to dealing with life.


A Better Alternative

Rather interestingly, marijuana is helping veterans bounce back from their dangerous substance abuse. The prevalence of life debilitating substance abuse among war veterans is much higher than the civilian population. According to a study in 2012, 32% of vets with PTSD were also being treated for substance abuse.

Cannabis can provide the relief many vets try to get from the harmful substances, like alcohol and cocaine. It offers them a healthier, more stable substitute. Cannabis can improve the mood and drive of many vets without inflicting irreversible health repercussions that are associated with serious substance abuse.


Assistance with Pain Relief

PTSD can make you relive the trauma and induce physical pain symptoms in your body. Sleep disturbance, hyper arousal as well as anxiety contribute to increasing physical tension and stress, leading to pain all over the body. Many vets complain of debilitating pain that makes it difficult to get out of bed.

Many vets develop chronic pain. Fibromyalgia is also common. Cannabis helps calm the musculoskeletal centers of the body and allow the body to relax. Better management of pain improves the vets’ engagement in social, occupational and recreational activities, improving their overall quality of life.

Cannabis is increasingly proving its efficacy when it comes to offering relief from physical and psychological pain for military vets. Healthcare providers should not ignore the benefits of marijuana to health and well-being of vets and recommend appropriate doses of medical marijuana when necessary.