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Thursday March 26, 2020

By Andrew Ward


Depending on the state you live in, you may be allowed to receive medical cannabis consultations via telemedicine. For those unsure, telemedicine is, in essence, having a doctor’s appointment online. The practice has been around for decades, with vast improvements coming as technology improved. Recently, it has played a part in battling the Coronavirus (COVID-19) scare for some Americans.

The advancements in telemedicine technology happened to come about right around the time cannabis legalization began to expand across the United States. In the following years, a number of states began to adopt laws allowing patients to see their doctor online about medical cannabis as they can with other doctor’s visits. In doing so, patients were given improved access to their doctors, eliminating sometimes hours-long journeys for patients in a desert, of sorts, where little to no approved physicians are available.

With telemedicine for medical marijuana, applicants can visit a licensed cannabis doctor online, allowing them to receive their medical marijuana cards in an often expedited fashion. Patients can also check in with medical professionals via telemedicine for renewals.

For those hoping to obtain a medical marijuana card for the first time or even a renewal, they should come prepared, both mentally and physically. When it comes to physical preparation, having your documentation in order is essential.

What to Have On-Hand for a Telemedicine Appointment for Medical Marijuana

Applicants are asked to provide the following documents prior to or during their appointment:

Necessary Documentation for Telemedicine:

  1. A Valid License: A state or government-issued photo ID is required for applicants. Valid options include a driver’s license, state ID or military ID. Some may also allow for documents that confirm in-state residency, such as bills or bank statements. For underage applicants, other documentation may be required. Or, the caregiver or guardian may be asked to apply as well as or in replacement of the patient.
  2. Medical Records/Documents: Patients are asked to provide documents that confirm they are likely to meet the qualifications on a state’s list of approved conditions for medical cannabis. Depending on the doctor and the time since the last visit, offices could take weeks to send the needed information. As such, applicants are recommended that they reach out to their physicians ahead of applying to not stall their progress.
  3. A Valid Payment Option: Appointments cost money, as does the application and registration progress, which may or may not be handled by the telemedicine service provider. Regardless, applicants will need to provide a valid payment option to purchase the appointment as well as any other accompanying charges and options.

What to Expect From a Telemedicine Appointment

Appointment types will vary the experience for sure, as will the regulations/processes for the specific state you are trying to get a medical marijuana card in. Those going for a renewal consultation or those asking specific questions will have their own type of experience when speaking with their physician.

A doctor consults with patients via video chat. photo credit

In the case of new applicants, their first time consultation could include:

New Telemedicine Patients:

  1. It’ll Likely Be Quick: Cannabis evaluations can often be 15 minute or less sessions. This is often made possible by uploading documents prior to a consultation. This way, a physician can assess your claims and gain any further needed information during the visit.
  2. Questions and Answers: While often quick, physicians still are there to assist those in need. If you have any questions, be prepared for a window of time where you can ask anything you are uncertain of. Depending on the service, you may also be able to send questions through an online portal at a later time, as well as set up additional appointments if needed.
  3. Discuss Your Condition(s): The doctor will do more than look over your chart and make a decision. They’ll want to understand your condition and assess where you currently stand. Be forthcoming with any pains, anxieties, concerns or other pressing realities of your condition.
  4. An Often Quick Turnaround: If approved, most applicants can receive their initial approvals via email in 48 hours or less. Some states do take longer, weeks in some cases, whether sending online or traditional mail. However, most can expect to get the ball rolling on receiving their card in little to no time.

Check If Your State Allows Telemedicine or Has Passed Emergency Measures for Coronavirus

Telemedicine is not allowed in every state, however, some states are passing emergency measures to deal with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Colorado Governor Jared Polis recently passed executive orders allowing cannabis doctors to conduct appointments via telemedicine for medical marijuana recommendations and renewals, and other states may follow suit as well. Be sure to check with your state’s regulations and local doctor’s offices to set up a telemedicine appointment if emergency measures are in place. If your state already approves of virtual doctor’s appointments, there should be a handful of reliable companies to choose from. Find the service that best matches your needs, wants and budget before setting anything up.

Stay safe out there everyone. Please comment with any questions, comments or concerns surrounding telemedicine and medical marijuana.

Photo Credit: Pixnio (license)


Andrew Ward Andrew Ward

Andrew Ward is a Brooklyn-based cannabis writer and creative. His work has appeared on Benzinga, High Times, PROHBTD and several other publications and brand blogs. He has covered the cannabis space for over three years, and has written professionally since 2011. His first book, "Cannabis Jobs," was released in October 2019. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn to stay up to date.

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