Updated on June 25, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
More than half the states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana for medicinal use. However, because it’s still considered an illegal substance by the federal government, each state has different legislation and qualifications patients must meet.
A common thread among all states is the doctor recommendation. All medically-legal states require patients have a doctor recommend the use of medical marijuana for their condition. In most states, the doctor must also be licensed with the state where you are applying for your card — meaning you can’t receive a recommendation from an out-of-state doctor.
Unfortunately, each state has different criteria for who can be your recommending physician. So, it’s crucial to research your individual state to see what requirements your doctor must meet before they can recommend medical marijuana.
Doctor Criteria by State
Each state has created its own medical marijuana laws, so the qualifications your recommending physician must meet will vary based on your state. Some states are more laid-back, allowing any licensed physician to recommend cannabis. Others, however, require doctors to undergo specialized training and receive a certification before they can recommend.
Here’s a breakdown by state of the qualifications the doctor must meet before they can recommend medical marijuana:
Alaska: Licensed to practice medicine in Alaska or a physician in the armed forces of the United States at a medical facility in Alaska
Arizona: A licensed physician, Naturopathic or Homeopathic physician who must fill out a certification form provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services
Arkansas: Doctors need to be licensed to practice in the state of Arkansas with a current DEA registration
California: Licensed by the Medical Board or the Osteopathic Medical Board of California to practice medicine or osteopathy in California
Colorado: An MD or DO with a current Colorado medical license as well as an active DEA certification
Connecticut: All physicians must have an active CT medical license and practice within the state, as well as a controlled substances registration from the CT Department of Consumer Protection, a DAS Business Network account, an active DEA registration and registration with the Connecticut Prescription Monitoring Program
Delaware: A physician or psychiatrist licensed with the state must fill out the form provided by Delaware Health and Social Services
C.: Must be licensed to practice medicine or osteopathy in the District of Columbia and must fill out the form provided by the D.C. Department of Health
Florida: Must have an active Florida medical license and complete a training course on medical marijuana
Hawaii: Physicians and advanced practice registered nurses must be licensed with the state and have prescriptive authority
Illinois: Licensed in Illinois as a doctor of medicine or osteopathy with a controlled substances license
Maine: Must be licensed by the state board as a physician, surgeon or osteopathic physician with a valid license from the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration
Maryland: Must have an MD physician’s license number, a controlled dangerous substance number and be registered with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission
Massachusetts: An active state medical license, at least one practice within the state and a Massachusetts Controlled Substances Registration
Michigan: Licensed as a Medical Doctor or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery in Michigan
Minnesota: Must be licensed in the state as a doctor, physician’s assistant or advanced practicing nurse and be enrolled in the Minnesota DOH Medical Cannabis Registry
Montana: Physicians licensed to practice medicine in Montana
Nevada: Licensed by the state of Nevada as a medical doctor or a doctor of osteopathy
New Hampshire: A physician or advanced practice registered nurse with an active NH license or licensed with Maine, Massachusetts or Vermont, plus an active DEA registration
New Jersey: Medical professional with an active license from the NJ Board of Medical Examiners, has an active controlled dangerous substances registration and practices medicine in New Jersey
New Mexico: Must be an MD, DO or nurse practitioner licensed in the state and qualified to administer drugs subject to the Controlled Substance Act
New York: They must be physicians with an in-state practice, completed the NY DOH educational course and be registered with the Department of Health to provide medical cannabis certifications
Ohio: Physicians must be registered with the state and receive a certificate to recommend cannabis
Oregon: Must be a doctor of medicine or osteopathy licensed to practice in the state and they must fill out a certification form provided by the Oregon Health Authority
Pennsylvania: Have a valid license to practice medicine in Pennsylvania, complete a four-hour medical cannabis course and register with the PA Department of Health
Rhode Island: They must be licensed to practice medicine in Rhode Island, Massachusetts or Connecticut and provide certification using the RI Department of Health form
Vermont: Medical professionals should either be licensed with authority to prescribe drugs, a licensed naturopathic physician, a certified physician’s assistant or a licensed advanced practice registered nurse in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts or New York
Washington: Physicians, physician’s assistants, naturopaths and advanced registered nurse practitioners who are licensed to practice medicine in Washington state
Bona Fide Doctor-Patient Relationship
Almost all medically-legal states require patients have a bona fide relationship with a physician before they can apply for the program. Some only require the doctor to meet with you once, and then take responsibility for any follow-up care. Other states are more stringent, requiring an established relationship of at least several months.
If your doctor lives out of state, they most likely won’t be able to prescribe medical marijuana, according to the legislation of most legal states.
Search our user-friendly database to find a doctor near you and start establishing a cooperative relationship. You may even be able to find some telemedicine options, so you can receive your medical marijuana recommendation without having to leave your home.