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Steps to Obtaining a Medical Marijuana Card in Oregon

Written by Sketchy Justin   
Thursday, 25 February 2010 16:20
For interviews with people explaining how they got their cards, visit I Got Medical.

Update: Justin has written a newer, more detailed article on this subject that can be found here.

Important Note: I am not a Physician or a Lawyer. The content of this article should not be used as medical or legal advice.

It is difficult to find basic information on obtaining a Medical Marijuana card in the state of Oregon. But the process itself isn't difficult. I learned via trial and error, but you can obtain your card by simply following four simple steps.

  1. Determine whether you have a debilitating condition

    Oregon law defines a "debilitating condition" as any of the following: Cancer; Glaucoma; agitation due to Alzheimer's disease; HIV or AIDS; or any medical condition that produces certain specific symptoms: loss of body mass that cannot be reversed nutritionally; severe pain; severe nausea (no definition for "severe" is provided); seizures; or persistent muscle spasms such as those caused by multiple sclerosis. Additionally, any person may submit a petition to the Oregon Health Authority requesting that a particular disease or condition be included as a qualifying condition.

  2. Obtain a recommendation from a qualified MD or DO

    It is possible that your primary care physician will be willing to write you a recommendation for medical cannabis. This will avoid the extra fees charged by medical marijuana clinics, fees that are not going to be covered by your insurance. These fees are typically around $100 and are separate from any fees charged by the state.

    However, for a variety of reasons many doctors will not be willing to write a recommendation for medical marijuana, even if they believe that the medication can help. As a result, there are several medical marijuana clinics in the Portland area that can assist you with obtaining a recommendation from a qualified physician. These clinics will also be able to tell you whether or not your condition qualifies.

    These clinics may have different requirements. The THC Clinic requested that I arrive with a copy of my medical records documenting the condition I believed would be helped through the use of medical cannabis. They asked that the condition be documented by two separate physicians and that those doctors be either an M.D. or D.O. No faith healers or herbalists. Real, practicing, licensed physicians.

  3. Register with the State

    You will need to take your recommendation to the State and pay them $100. While your application is pending approval--this process will take months--you will receive temporary papers. Congratulations! You're legal.

  4. Obtain medication!

    There are three ways to obtain medical marijuana.

    1. Buy on the black market.

      This route is for criminals. You're better than that now! It is illegal to sell marijuana to anyone in Oregon--including cardholders. You are not breaking the law by purchasing your medication, but the seller is by charging for it. This makes Oregon unique from states like California, where commercialization of marijuana has caused dispensaries to expand at a rate that would make Starbucks envious.

      The black market is potentially dangerous and you have no recourse if the medication you purchase is no better than dried oregano. I only recommend the black market as an avenue of last resort. It's a shame that it has to exist at all.

    2. Find someone to grow for you.

      On your medical marijuana application you may list three people: Yourself, a primary caregiver, and a person responsible for your grow site. You may fill in the caregiver and grower fields with anyone but that person must be approved by the state or you risk having your application denied--anyone with a narcotics conviction is not a good choice.

      Your grower is allowed to charge you for the cost of supplies and electricity. They cannot charge you for your medication or even for labor. This makes it difficult to find someone to grow for you as there is little incentive for them to undertake such an expensive and time-consuming operation. For this reason, many growers sell your "extra" medication and only accept medical marijuana patients to cover their real business. This is something many patients may not want to be a part of. Escape the black market!

    3. Grow your own!

      This is the ideal solution but it cannot work for everyone. Going the do-it-yourself route is challenging, fun, and safer than the other methods of obtaining medication. You will have a hundred percent control over your medication supply. There are downsides to keep in mind, however.

      Growing marijuana can be expensive. Seeds, lights, nutrients, power--all these things cost money. It is very time-consuming to grow your own and will require a fair amount of empty space. It is possible to grow medical marijuana in a closet but your growth potential will be limited by the small amount of space available.

      If you're interested in growing your own medical cannabis, the Oregon branch of the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws--or NORML--provides low-cost classes for patients, caregivers, and growers that will instruct you in the art and science of growing medical cannabis. High Times Magazine produces instructional DVDs. There are a variety of books published on the subject. If you have the time, money, and motivation to grow your own, it is the safest and most reliable option available at this time.

    Legal Issues

    Once you have your recommendation, approval from the state, and medication in hand, there are some legal gray areas to keep in mind. Police officers may still cite you for smoking in public--disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace are potential charges. If you want to avoid trouble or being inconvenienced, smoke in the privacy of your own home. Or try your hand at baking...

    Oregon law does not protect you from your employer. If drug tests are required and you test positive for marijuana, you can still be dismissed or have your application for employment rejected. If you rent, you can be evicted from your home for growing or using medical cannabis. And if your home is located around the corner from a school, growing marijuana could potentially get you in trouble. The law is very unclear on this subject.

    Thankfully, on October 19th 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memo that stated the federal Justice Department will no longer prosecute Medical Marijuana patients who are complying with the laws of their state, even when those laws contradict federal law. This memo has made obtaining medical marijuana safer and easier.

Sketchy Justin is a Portland writer and medical marijuana patient. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

For interviews with people explaining how they got their cards, visit I Got Medical.


# ZACHARY SIEGEL 2010-05-30 12:10
# sketchyjustin 2011-01-31 14:35
In Oregon, Starbucks only sells coffee.
# Randy 2010-06-07 15:28
I have been told I'm ADD sufferer. I have spots of anger-flares that totally disopate when I take a single drag on my one-hitter-pipe. I had quit smoking pot in the 80's and didn't try it again until a friend suggested Marajuana to aleviate this issue. It worked hands-down and I was about to try anger-management, of which I had tried several years ago and it just pissed me off. People sitting around in a circle labeling eachother. NOT 4 ME!! I'm in Corvallis, used to live in Portland and had an OD, Dr Yankee in Milwaukee. He found a spinal disorder at the L5&S1. Bone deteriation happening faster than the rest of my spine...what you think? (I have all diagnosees history)
# AnDroid 2010-07-26 11:16
I, too, often smoke to control my anger, although the spinal injury would be the thing to bring up when discussing alternative treatments to back pain with your physician.
# thomas 2013-02-24 23:57
hey man im geting mine for the same thing best of luck to yah and just like they were saying if you have two diagnosis's go pay the doc at a clinic to accept you its almost 100% oh and be al jittery when you go in there
# Iva 2013-04-08 08:45
If you are going there make sure the doctor signing your recommendation is the REAL doctor. Lots of scams going on and if you ever need the doctor to defend your recommendation in court you could be hung out to dry when you need it most. Just be careful or call AMC 971-270-0262.
# erik 2010-07-26 10:08
Hi, am new to oregon and need to obtain card for depression, anxiety and severe backpain. Want to grow my own. Can I sell my excess to a medical marijuana dispensary? Is it legal? Imean they get it somewhere. And if I'm legal I can have up to 24 plants? Thank you, Have a nice day. ERIK
# AnDroid 2010-07-26 11:11
Erik - Oregon doesn't have medical marijuana dispensaries set up like other states, although we will probably be voting on this issue in the near future. There are "care takers" who grow for multiple patients, but it isn't legal to sell pot to anyone under any circumstance. Cardholders should theoretically be getting all of their pot for free or simply for the cost of growing.
# Kim W 2011-01-15 21:25
I have severe headaches and lots of back probs from car accidents. I had a PCP but have not had insurance for over a year so i have had to self treat since i could not afford to see the doctor to get refills on meds or to have it documented that it still is an ongoing problem. what should i do? I have been under the impression that my med records needed to be current... Should i fork out the money to see this doc or is there a place to go that is easier than that? Any info would help....
# Mike zz Brown 2011-01-30 23:31
Please!!! can anyone tell me, how long it takes from the time I mail my info into the state, that I get my card back? I,m in great pain! Thank you very much folks!
# AnDroid 2011-01-31 10:23
I'm not a lawyer or anything, but unless the law has changed I believe once your application is in the mail you are legal until you either receive your card or a denial. You just need to keep your paperwork on you to avoid possession charges. It can take a while for them to process your application and send you the actual card, but your copy of the paperwork (with the official DHS stamp) grants you the same privileges as the card.
# sketchyjustin 2011-01-31 14:31
They typically give you stamped paperwork that makes you legal while they review your records.

If you turn your records in personally, they hand it to you immediately. By mail I imagine it's pretty quick.

Your actual card will take months. But the paperwork serves the same legal purpose.
# sketchyjustin 2011-01-31 14:33
For legal questions, like plant count (24 total: 18 < 1 foot tall and NOT flowering, maximum 6 flowering plants of any size ) it's best to just read the law.


Anyone considering getting a card should familiarize themselves with the actual regulations. Don't rely on word-of-mouth. That's how people growing for themselves end up breaking the law with 24 4' plants.
# Guy 2011-03-01 09:58
If I want tO obtain my medical card for chronic back pain but have not went to any doctors about the problem...how long would the process take from start to finish to have the card in my hand? And what are all the exact steps I need to take?
# Michael 2011-08-17 21:02
Hi there I currently live in california and am trying to decide whether it would be easier for me to get a card here for my depression and renew it in oregon when i move or if I should just wait and get it in oregon? thanks
# So. Cal New to OR 2014-01-04 22:28
# Kelli 2011-09-09 14:06
Hey there. I was wondering how I should go about finding a house to rent, if I am planning on growing for my patient? I have been basing my search on non-smoking and smoking friendly landlords, but I feel like it's not that black and white. How do I appropriately ask if they are medicinal marijuana friendly? And if they will be accepting of medicine being grown inside their property?
# Bob 2011-12-08 12:54
Just ask if they permit houseplants, the rest of none of their business imo, they need not know what type of houseplant because it's your medicine which is your private business, again imo. Your landlord is not your doctor.
# skyler 2011-12-12 08:02
I was diagnosed with TMJ syndrom witch pretty much means lock jaw. Its very painful an I don't take pills because they make me sick, but whenever I take a hit of marijuna the pain in my jaw lessens. I just need feedback on wheather or not I can get my medical card for this.
# Kathy 2012-01-05 04:55
Hi, I've lived in Oregon my whole life. I've been in pain management & prescribed almost #400 10mg Methadone a month for over 6 years now. It is documented with my doctor as well as my pain management doctor in Portland Oregon. I really want off methadone, my doctor says I'm the only patient he knows on such a high dose. For the last 9 months I've been severely nauseous from the meds & I've dropped 50lbs which is also documented. I have horrible IBS too but let's not get into that here lol. I'm wondering in ur opinion if I'm a good candidate for a mm card? I've been using marijuana for the last month & feel lie a new person on it, I've even gained 7lbs back! I don't want to go through a long stressful process & pay all the fees just to be denied for some reason. Do I sound like a good candidate or maybe juxtaposition possible candidate? Thanks for ur help :) ps- sorry for any typos, I am on my cellphone
# JJ 2012-04-28 12:14
Got mine today for IBS. No big deal. Any chronic pain.
# AnDroid 2012-04-28 14:02
# Drew 2012-03-07 16:45
I recently moved to WA. I am looking to obtain my medical card (in WA or OR) instead of going through friends and what not, so I can get a strain that will help with what I need it to. I have muscle spasms on occasion, but I'm wanting the card to help with my insomnia and back pain. I want to know where to go that isn't too costly and is relatively easy. My friends in Cali got their's in a matter of 30 minutes tops, came out with the only paper they need to go into a med shop and 'donate'. Is it that easy here?
# DEB 2012-03-23 02:42
# Megan 2012-03-28 14:15
I have scoliosis and severe back pain, is that alone enough to obtain a card? because i also have a history of anxiety and stress and i use marijuana to treat that a little
# Iva 2013-03-27 16:57
Yes if you have the documentation to back up your diagnosis. Call 971-270-0262 for more info.
# mike 2012-04-05 15:34
The oregon OMMP Card program is a great model for the rest of the US. It sets up a great realationship between grower and patient and provides cheap or free medicine for the sick that need cannabis, at virus.virus.ommpcard.com you can find information regarding how to get your card, oregon medical marijuana program protects your right to safe access to medicine
# mike 2012-04-10 11:55
Best to get an OMMP card here: virus.virus.ommpcard.com in the Eugene area
# Ariel 2012-04-29 12:20
I have had 7 lumbar punctures, an few of them not done properly. I have sever back and neck pain because of it. only if sit somewhere where there is no "give" or cushion for long periods of time. Im only 20 years old and i would really appreciate a medical card, but i have been told you can only get one for chronic back pain. and what about depression? how can they tell you that marijuana doesn't help?
# dick 2012-06-06 17:25
I need a doc to examine me to determine if I should use marijuana. Do you have recommendations ?
# Christina 2012-06-19 14:52
i heard you cant get federal loans if you have a medical card. Im trying to get mine but i want to make sure i know all the cons to getting my card, anyone know where i can get help for this?
# Birtybots 2012-07-15 20:43
This was very well written and it is refreshing to find an accurate article on the topic, and the fact that I didn't have to go though a ridiculous number of ads or biased people denouncing the use of cannabis. I personally have three qualifying ailments, and have been wondering about attaining a medical card for myself, since traditional medications upset my system. I'd also like to add that patients who qualify, like my uncle who was a cancer patient also on state assistance, the state of Oregon will help lower the cost.
# Charlie 2012-07-22 21:03
I have severe anxiety in large crowds and before bed from night terrors. Any way, I am prescribed Xanax. I live in Alabama and revived a few schoolarship for Oregon state. I was put in the hospital for accidentally overdosing (taking pills in my sleep) I was wondering if that (completly backed up with medical history with symptoms starting from 2010) could qualify me for some form of medical cannabis, such as edibles or THC drops? Oregon state is smoke free so I couldn't pull graves or anything like that...sooo any help?
# ashley 2012-08-23 01:12
can someone with an oregon medical card name a grower and grow site in california?
# Malibu now in Portla 2014-01-04 22:37
Why? if you are not a CA resident you can't purchase there. In CA you can walk in to a dispensary, no need to grow. Plus, GOOD LUCK having a CA grower for CA dispensaries sell to someone from another state...That is a different level of Federal criminal Activity - Interstate trafficking.
# Fabian 2012-11-02 21:14
Last year i ended four years of service in the military. I now have several medical problems, ankle, knee, shoulder, and wrist (joints in general) pain. Also a lot of trouble sleeping. These issues are noted in my medical record by a licensed physician, but not my civilian medical record. I don't know how to proceed. I do have a copy of my military medical record that i made at kinkos, but not an official one. Any information would be helpful, thanks in advance.
# Iva 2013-03-27 16:59
Check out Alternative Medical Choices they give Veterans discounts and they are still the most affordable. They will even help you get your records for no cost.
# Joseph 2012-12-12 12:56
I am currently 15 years old and have been told my doctor that Marijuana will help my insomnia, back pains, and shoulder pains. She is willing to write a recommendation for me to get my Marijuana card but the only issue I am facing is my father does not approve of me getting a Marijuana Card and I am curious if there is any other way I can get my card. My doctor has also recommended pills for every problem I currently have but I stressed my extreme dislike of pills for very good reasons. Any help on this matter would be excellent. Thank you for your time.
# Joseph 2012-12-12 12:57
Told by my doctor**
# vince 2012-12-23 14:47
I have a question for you......I'm originally from Cali n just moved to oregon, I have a valid medical recommendation from Cali but need to get an Oregon rec now. Is there anyway I can bring in my current rec to a physician up here to get it renewed in Oregon?
# Thomas 2013-04-07 03:03
Been wanting to get my card for quite a while. Have many physical ailments including seizures, Wondering if anybody thinks since I have a long documented medical history(Xrays,M RI's,ER visits) with my Physicians assistant and no other medical practitioner, would they accept my PA as my Attending Physician. Thanks
# Brendon 2013-12-17 06:32
I have kids artrides sences I was little IM.18 teen now an artrides runs in my family. It's got wores an IM in pain all the time when my friend told me to try weed An it helped my Pain a lot an he told me to go get my card but my doctor what sing any thing saying I , can get it an I don't now what to do an I what to not be in pain any more an I don't what to try this an not be able to get it so do you think I can get it with what I have
# Catt 2014-01-22 01:21
I am 19 years old and have had arthritis since the age of 7 years old, I have visited a special hospital in Portland OR, known as doernbecher children's hospital up until I was 12, about 3 or 4 years ago I tore the meniscus in my right knee & was told by the Albuquerque new mexico E.R that I had a bone spur in my right knee. I have sever lower back pain that causes me to almost vomit and want to cry. on top of arthritis, a torn meniscus and sever inhabilitating lower back pain it almost makes me want to just lay in bed and never move again in hopes that the pain will just go away, I have told every doctor that I refuse to take any prescription drug such as painkillers, because I hate the effects on my body, and that I would like a natural way of easing the pain. I have smoked marijuana before and it has put all the pain at bay and I was able to go on with my daily life till the pain came back after the marijuana had worn off..
Would this be enough for me to get a MMJ card?
# Mike 2014-02-13 07:38
I am a 56 year old Georgia resident and just got diagnosed with lung cancer. I want to get my OMMP card so that I can obtain RS Oil. Since I live in GA and don't know anyone in OR the one hurdle I'm going to have is listing a grow site address. Any suggestions/loopholes like maybe renting a mini warehouse unit and listing that as my grow address?
# larry 2014-03-24 12:46
you are leagle so take care of your needs Brother
# Abe 2014-07-22 19:53
Quick question.. hopefully someone can tell me. I Just turned in my $200 to OMMP bpx office. How long does it take to get those papers?? I know the card takes months. But the papers should do, right or wrong? Im not good at this waiting game....HEEEELP
# Indica Bob 2014-09-21 11:48
I have upper and lower back pain from and have went through minimally invasive surgery. It makes more sense to me to vaporize a harmless non-addictive soft drug than it would be to develop a dependency on a potentially addictive pharmaceutical pain medication.
# Akita 2015-01-22 13:27
I moved from Cali to Oregon and need to get my marijuana Oregon medical Card. I have scoliosis and I have a letter from my chiropractor with my diagnosis and my Cali license paperwork do I still need to see a doctor out here in Oregon or can i Just apply and get approved?? If anyone has any helpful info please reply.
I dont want to pay the $200.00 fee does any one know of a way to get a cheap card but of course that is legit not a scam.
# AnDroid 2015-01-22 18:42
Welcome to Oregon! I don't know of a way to get a cheap card, unfortunately. The prices have gotten really out of hand.

It would be worth checking to see if you could get a card with your current referral, but you may need to get an additional referral.

Also keep in mind that marijuana will become legal in July. Not sure what that will look like yet in terms of prices and distribution.
# Indica Bob 2015-03-13 11:16
I have chronic pain of the thoracic and lumbar. My doctor does not treat chronic pain. He prescribed a exercise sheet and gave me a list of physical restrictions such as bending or lifting. I need a card.
# AnDroid 2015-03-13 17:58
Try a different doctor!
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