Updated on December 21, 2018.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Using medical marijuana can have its own challenges, so finding others that understand the process can be helpful. There are dozens of organizations across the country that can help medical marijuana users in many ways, from answering questions to helping them find extremely useful resources.
Why Medical Marijuana Support Is Important
Across the country, medical marijuana patients are frustrated and confused regarding how the law applies to them. Even in states where pot is legal, patients find it extremely difficult to get a clear explanation as to when they are within the law and when they are outside of it. While many people are thrilled that several states have completely decriminalized marijuana, this has, in some instances, created even more confusion.
For example, in some states you can legally possess one ounce of weed for your personal use. If you want to have between one and 10 ounces, you have to have a card — somewhat similar to a driver’s license — that shows you are legally entitled to possess that amount due to medical issues.
Another problem is that some states have been slow in implementing laws that create an efficient system of dispensing medical marijuana. Far too many patients have to travel long distances to have their prescriptions filled, whether they are using cannabis for appetite stimulation or treatment for pain, anxiety or nausea. Patients are also unclear on exactly what type of process they have to go through to obtain a medical marijuana card.
These are just a few of the reasons it’s so important for patients to have reliable, comprehensive resources to turn to, whether they want their questions answered online, in person or over the phone. Having a convenient way to find the information they need can help greatly reduce stress and frustration, which are the last things someone suffering from a medical problem needs to experience.
The national organizations available for support for the medical marijuana community include:
Americans for Safe Access — Americans for Safe Access (ASA) was formed in 2002 by a medical marijuana patient who wanted to create a forum that would act as an advocate for acceptance of cannabis as medicine. According to the organization’s website, ASA is the largest of its kind in the U.S., comprising citizens, scientists, medical professionals and patients. The goal of ASA is to help surmount legal, political and social barriers so patients and researchers have increased access to medical cannabis.
This means not only providing services to patients to make sure they have the information they need to make the right decision regarding medical marijuana, but also grassroots activity to help influence policy. ASA claims to have had a hand in changing laws at not only the local and state level, but at the federal level as well, and to have also helped create medical cannabis safety standards.
Some state organizations you’ll find include:
Sensible Minnesota — This organization strives to provide information to the public regarding the uses and benefits of cannabis, and to advocate for policy changes.
The Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii — The MCCHI provides support to both medical marijuana patients and their caregivers by listening to their concerns. The organization fully supports the legal use of medical cannabis and helps ensure doctors, caregivers and patients are aware of the law by informing them when laws change. It also educates patients on ways to legally cultivate their own medicinal marijuana.
MCCHI is not affiliated with the state. It is a non-partisan, independent organization that is committed to educating the public on the laws of Hawaii, as well as working to reform laws that can be very confusing to medical marijuana patients. The organization grew from a group called the Medical Cannabis Working Group, which comprised caregivers, civil rights advocates, public health professionals, patients and others.
Some of the organizations you’ll find at the local levels you can turn to for support include:
Pediatric Cannabis Support (San Diego) — The Pediatric Cannabis Support (PCS) organization was formed by a group of San Diego-area mothers whose children use cannabis to treat a variety of medical conditions. These include cerebral palsy, epilepsy and many others. These children have tried conventional medications but have not been able to find relief.
The PCS provides a network of parents, caregivers and others who meet once a month to discuss the challenges and rewards of dealing with special needs children. The organization is committed to providing a comfortable, safe place to talk about pediatric cannabis and to share resources.
Corvallis (OR) Cannabis Support Group — This is another group formed for the purpose of helping patients make the most informed choices when deciding whether or not they would benefit from medical marijuana. It also provides an atmosphere of support for patients who would like to explore the benefits of medical cannabis but are experiencing difficulties when talking to their doctors.
Like in other states, it can be difficult for patients authorized to use medical marijuana in Oregon to obtain accurate information, even from their physicians. The group is meant for those who want clear, detailed answers to their questions.
Seattle Medical Marijuana Association — The SMMA is a group of medical marijuana patients who work together to learn how to grow the highest quality medicine to help them find relief from their health issues. The organization is committed to showing patients how to conform to the law at all times so they do not have to face criminal action. It also helps clear up confusion regarding the laws and regulations that govern the use of medical cannabis, and to inform members whenever those laws change.
Marijuana Doctors is proud to also offer support to medicinal marijuana patients by providing assistance in finding doctors nationwide. We are fully aware of the confusion that can come from the process, and we work to provide patients with a way to locate physicians and book appointments with them.
Marijuana Doctors is also affiliated with Americans for Safe Access, and we are a member of NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). We also provide clear, detailed information on a state-by-state basis regarding who qualifies for medical marijuana use, as well as how to obtain medical marijuana cards in the states that offer them.