Why do medical cannabis cards expire?

Ruth Lemon
Ruth Lemon - VP of Operations

Sep 11 2021 - 3 min read

If you already have a medical card, you may be wondering why you have to have a consultation with a physician again. After all, you’ve already been through the motions, talked to a healthcare professional and been approved as a medical cannabis user. What’s the point of doing it again?

Well, in most states, medical cards are only valid for one year and in order to renew, you will need to meet with a doctor again. This is an important medical requirement which the majority of state programs require annually because cannabis literally is medicine. And you wouldn’t just keep taking other forms of medicine indefinitely without checking in with your physician, would you? Cannabis is no different.

Why do I have to speak with a doctor every year to renew my cannabis card?

Put simply, your annual check in with your physician is an important opportunity to consult with a medical professional. Cannabis is a wonderful and powerful medicine but it does need to be monitored. Part of cannabis’ wonder and power is how it works so specifically and uniquely with each person. This allows it to be a highly versatile and tailor-made medicine but this can also mean it takes time to get the right dose for you. Regular check-ins with your physician ensure that your cannabis dosing is right.

By speaking with a physician each year, you’ll have the opportunity to speak to an expert about how cannabis has worked for you over the past twelve months. You can share with the physician strains and doses which worked well, alongside addressing doses which have been less effective. The physician should be able to give you guidance to help you get the most out of cannabis as medicine.

It’s important to remember that in order to be a medical patient, you need to have a qualifying medical condition in your state. Now, don’t worry: this doesn’t mean that if you got qualified for chronic pain but now, thanks to cannabis, you’re not in pain, that you won’t qualify again. But there are some conditions which are not ongoing and therefore it is a legal requirement to be recertified. If you do have a long term condition and cannabis is effectively helping you manage this, a consultation with a doctor simply allows you to be recertified again.

In some states, there is also the option to increase your allotment of cannabis. This is something which can be done after a period of time using cannabis to allow both the patient and the doctor to determine efficacy and need. Your annual check in to renew your certificate is a great time to discuss increasing your allotment if you feel you could benefit from a higher dosage.

How often do you have to speak with a medical cannabis doctor?

Ok, while we’ve been talking about annual visits, there are a few states which have cards that are valid for longer. Illinois, for example, has cards which are valid for three years. Nevada cards are valid for two years. Florida, by contrast, requires follow ups every seven months. And then you have the awkward states like New Jersey where a state issued card is valid for two years but you have to get a physician’s certificate annually to keep the card valid.

For the vast majority of state programs, you’ll need to speak to a doctor once a year and can start the process 30 days before your current card expires. If you want to check how often you need to see a healthcare provider in your state, visit our FAQs here.

What happens if I don’t renew my cannabis card?

If your medical card expires, you will no longer be able to purchase medical cannabis. Certificates and cards with expired dates on them will not be accepted by dispensaries. Plus, states where there are no digital cards but instead online registries where patients are looked up will alert bud tenders when they search for you that you are no longer a certified patient.

If you live in a state where adult use is not legal and you are stopped by the police in possession of cannabis without a valid, in-date medical card, you could also face criminal charges. We strongly recommend you always keep an in-date medical card or certificate on your person at all times.

How do I renew my medical marijuana card with Leafwell?

If your card has expired or is due to expire, you can renew with Leafwell today. If you are an existing Leafwell patient, we’ll email you 30 days prior to your existing card expiring to give you plenty of time to renew. If you’re not already a Leafwell patient, you can sign up for an account today and complete the registration in order to book an appointment or enter our virtual waiting room to see a Leafwell healthcare provider today.

Download Our Guide To Your Cannabis Rights
Written by
Ruth Lemon
Ruth Lemon

Ruth Lemon has worked in Cambodia and Australia, gaining experience in the non-profit sector, education and international development, and digital marketing. Ruth is helping Leafwell to scale without compromising the customer experience and seeks to create a frictionless customer journey. She now lives in the UK with her rescued Cambodian cat and believes Leafwell is improving access to and understanding of a valuable medical alternative.

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