Updated on January 4, 2020.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
In most states with a medical marijuana program, you must undergo a doctor’s examination. The doctor will verify you have a medical condition that your state considers eligible for the program. Even if your state already allows recreational marijuana use, the patient may be under 21 or want to take advantage of the extra benefits provided for green card carriers.
Unfortunately, these doctor’s visits aren’t free. Like any other medical trip, you need to consider the costs involved with stopping by a physician’s office for a marijuana examination.
Major Cost Factors for Marijuana Examinations
The factor that can have the biggest influence on the cost of your medical marijuana examination is whether you even need one at all. If you’re an adult over 21 living in a state that authorizes recreational pot, you can just go to a dispensary and buy marijuana. For you, the cost and effort of registering for a card and regularly renewing it might not outweigh the waived taxes some states provide green card carriers.
At the time of writing, you can buy marijuana without a medical card in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Washington, D.C. If you live in one of these states, research the benefits of getting a medical marijuana card compared to buying weed without a card.
Naturally, the next biggest factor is the state you live in. Since marijuana is illegal on a federal level, there’s no universal cost for marijuana examinations. The amount you pay for your qualification visit depends on your state and the practice you visit.
And, those prices wildly vary. You can pay anywhere from $50 to $200 for an appointment without insurance coverage. But, these two factors aren’t the only ones to think about. Other circumstances can also make your evaluation cost higher or lower.
Where to Get a Medical Marijuana Appointment
Depending where you live, you may have more than one choice of a practice to visit for your evaluation.
Some marijuana-friendly states will take recommendations from any doctor who has seen you for an extended period, such as your primary care provider. As long as you have a working relationship with this doctor and they’ve treated you for your qualifying condition, you can ask them for documentation. This is usually the most convenient option if the doctor approves of cannabis medicine.
However, other states only accept recommendations from doctors who have gone through a certification process. Some states have their own certification courses specifically tailored for physicians who recommend medicinal cannabis. Others need the doctor to verify they have training in topics related to medical marijuana.
If your state requires medical marijuana certification, you may be able to ask a doctor you already see to go through the process. In some cases, your primary care physician might agree with the use of marijuana as medicine and will gladly get certified. However, some doctors may not want to give you a recommendation, so you’d have to look for a weed-friendly practice.
Certain states have clinics specifically geared towards providing medical marijuana recommendations. In states with more open cannabis laws, you can make a quick visit and get your medicine the same day. However, these clinics may not accept health insurance.
Additional Costs of Medical Marijuana Exams
The cost of entering your state’s medical marijuana program goes beyond the cost of your doctor’s visit. Consulting a doctor about your eligibility for medical weed is only one part of the entire registration process. To understand the true cost of proving your qualification, you should think about every circumstance in the procedure.
Some costs involved with getting a medical cannabis evaluation include:
Travel: If you live in a remote, rural area and need to see a specially-trained doctor, it can cost money to travel to a more populated area. Sometimes you can make a video chat appointment, but they don’t always accept insurance.
Time Off Work: If you have a job without flexible hours or paid leave time, you may have to lose hours to visit a marijuana doctor. Not every practice provides services outside of work hours. Patients who must travel a long distance to go to their appointment sometimes must take off an extended period.
Registration Fees: Once you have a medical recommendation, you aren’t finished with the program registration process. Most states require a registration fee. In 2012, application costs ranged from $25 to $200.
Renewal Fees: After you enter a state medical marijuana program, you need to renew your participation and get more recommendations on a regular basis. Every year, you must pay a renewal fee to stay in the program and cover the cost of any additional appointments you need to attend.
Possible Discounts/Insurance Coverage for Marijuana Qualification
If you benefit from government assistance, you could qualify for a reduced registration fee from your state. States like California and Arizona reduce the fee for patients in programs like government-funded medical insurance and food stamps. Some states even look at your income and lower the cost if you earn less than the federal poverty line.
Patients with medical insurance could reduce their co-pay if their visit is covered. Whether you get coverage depends on the practice and your insurance. When in doubt, ask the health provider or your insurance company.
Potential Total Cost for Medical Marijuana Registration
As you can see, many elements go into the total cost of signing up for a state medical marijuana program. Here are our estimates of what you could pay:
Co-Pay: ~$0 to $200
Registration Fee: ~$0 to $200
Renewal Fee: ~$0 to $180
Total Cost: ~$0 to $580
Since much of the cost of getting an evaluation depends on location and personal circumstances, you should read more about the cost of entering a medical marijuana program. Check out these posts to get started: