Do I Need to Go to My Old Medical Marijuana Doctor to Renew My Card?
Many medical marijuana cardholders wonder if they need to go to the same doctor they saw originally when it comes time for their medical marijuana card renewal. The good news is that any state-licensed physician can provide their signature for medical marijuana renewal. If you're due to renew your medical cannabis card, choosing the right MMJ doctor will help you have the best possible patient experience.
Reasons to See a Different Doctor
There are many reasons why you might want (or need) to see a different physician when you go to renew your MMJ card. Each of these reasons is valid and could improve your experience significantly.
The Original Clinic Has Closed
Health services occasionally change hands or close due to changes in state or local laws, the retirement of the primary physician, or economic factors. If the clinic where you obtained your current card is no longer in operation, you will need to find a new physician to provide the authorization for your new card.
You Have Moved
If you've moved to a new state—or even to a different address in the same state—it will be more convenient (and in some cases, necessary) to find a marijuana doctor near you. While some states do accept out-of-state marijuana cards this privilege is usually temporary. You’ll need to update your certification accordingly.
The Original Clinic Charges Too Much
Medical marijuana card renewal inevitably comes with a fixed cost that is established at the state level. For example, the Arizona Department of Health Services charges $150 for an MMJ card with a validity of two years. While you can't change the price of the actual card, you can often save money on the physician appointment to obtain a recommendation for cannabis.
You Desire a Better Patient Experience
One always anticipates a pleasant experience when going to see a healthcare professional. However, if the doctor you saw when you got your original card was less than compassionate or you had an otherwise unpleasant experience, it's definitely worth trying a different doctor when your card expires and you need to renew.
How to Renew Your Medical Marijuana Card
Renewing a medical marijuana card is essentially the same process as applying for an MMJ card the first time around. It's also important to keep in mind that renewal is not entirely automatic. Your condition may have improved significantly since you went for your original card and you may no longer qualify. For the renewal process, you will need up-to-date medical records (in some cases, but not all) as well as a valid state ID card.
What to Take: Same Provider
The main advantage to seeing the same doctor you saw at the beginning is that the provider will already have your details on file. This could save you some time (around 15 minutes) filling out new patient registration forms and uploading any relevant medical information. However, if you now have a different address or more recent medical tests, you will still need to provide paperwork to support these changes.
What to Take: New Provider
If you decide to see a different doctor (at a different medical practice), you will need to complete the registration process for new patients. While it can vary according to the practice, you will typically need to provide the following for a renewal application:
ID card or driver’s license (as proof of residency, age, and address)
Your current MMJ card
Medical records as updated proof of your condition (if applicable)
A digital or paper application
An updated photograph
The consultation fee
If you can't go into the clinic in person, you can often complete the consultation for an MMJ card online with a medical marijuana telemedicine appointment. This is an especially convenient option for patients with lab tests or other documents that show that they have a qualifying condition for a medical marijuana card. Patients without official medical records may need to go in for an in-person consultation and be assessed by a doctor to obtain a provider certification.
Receiving Your Medical Marijuana Card
Depending on the state's department, the renewal process could take 1-2 weeks. For example, an Arizona medical marijuana card renewal typically takes around 5 business days but can sometimes happen in as little as a few hours. If your current MMJ card is still valid, the new medical card will appear in the patient portal once the old one has expired.
In other states, you might be able to have your card mailed to you or have it printed out at a licensed dispensary. Be sure to check with your doctor during the renewal process if you're not sure how to receive your new medical marijuana card.
When Should I Apply for a New Card?
In Arizona, you can apply for your new medical marijuana card online (with physician certification) up to 90 days before the expiration date. After you renew online, you will be notified as to whether or not the application was successful. In many other states, you can renew your card online 30 days before the old one expires.
Reasons to Renew Your Medical Marijuana Card
It may seem like a hassle to renew your medical cannabis card—especially if recreational marijuana is legal in your state. However, there are many benefits to having a medical marijuana card once it comes time to renew:
If you are under 21, an MMJ card may be the only way you can access the products you need.
MMJ cardholders are sometimes protected from workplace sanctions for testing positive for cannabis.
Patients with a medical marijuana card can often access exclusive discounts, stronger strains, and a certain amount of free cannabis.
Medical marijuana patients may be allowed to grow their own cannabis at home, or grow more plants than a recreational user.
Medical marijuana patients are usually allowed to purchase and possess a larger quantity of cannabis than recreational users.
Medical cardholders can often have marijuana products delivered in states where recreational delivery is prohibited (such as Arizona).
It's Worth Finding the Right MMJ Doctor
Medical marijuana renewal takes a little time, but it should be a quick, easy, and pleasant experience. If you need to renew your card and would like to see a different doctor, you should have no trouble at all. Simply find a doctor in your state who’s approved for cannabis certifications, present the documentation required, pay the fee, and enjoy the benefits of medical marijuana.