Northwest Medical Marijuana Guide
First, let's dispel a myth: You don't need a medical marijuana "card." To comply with Washington State's medical marijuana law, you need an authorization on tamper-proof paper from a licensed medical professional. Any organization that says you must purchase a card or join a club is blowing smoke up your ass (and probably trying to separate you from your money).
So what medical conditions qualify you to get one of these authorizations? Who is licensed to give you one? And what are your rights under the law? These are the basics:
Determine if you are eligible. To qualify for an authorization, a medical professional must find that you have one of several "terminal or debilitating" conditions. The Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Commission says these include cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and other seizure disorders, spasticity disorders, intractable pain, glaucoma, Crohn's disease, hepatitis C, or diseases that cause wasting syndrome. (For a complete list and more details, go to www.doh.wa.gov/hsqa/medical-marijuana). But you're not a fucking doctor, so...
Visit a medical professional. He or she can evaluate your condition and sign an authorization. The best person to visit is your primary care provider—that is, your regular doctor. But some doctors are afraid of medical marijuana, others are unfamiliar with its medical properties, and others don't specialize in the conditions relieved by marijuana. Fortunately, lots of health care providers who aren't cowards and do know about medical marijuana treatments advertise their services. Find them in this paper and other papers, online, by word of mouth, etc. But a word of caution: Scrutinize them to make sure you're getting a health care provider who will take your health seriously. If you ever have to defend your rights in court, you want a doctor who will testify, not one who will suddenly be in Mexico. Under current law, the providers who can approve authorizations include medical doctors, medical physician assistants, osteopathic physicians, osteopathic physician assistants, naturopathic physicians, and advanced registered nurse practitioners.
Comply with the law. Under state rules, your authorization allows you to grow up to 15 plants and possess up to 24 ounces of dried marijuana. If a cop stops you, present your authorization, and it should be like an automatic get-out-of-jail-free card. If the cop chooses to arrest you—which the law still technically allows at the time this guide went to print—by all means cooperate. You can make your defense in court later. More details on the current law here.
Follow these simple instructions and enjoy the pot without the paranoia.