Posted on September 11 2018
You would have to live under a rock to not realize that cannabis legalization is now sweeping North America. Canada has made cannabis legal nation-wide, Mexico's leadership is working on doing likewise, and here in the United States we have varying degrees of legalization rolling out on a state by state basis with 39 states allowing some form of legalized access to cannabis. Both Newsweek and Time magazines have published special editions this year entirely focused on the cannabis industry and legalization issues.
At least two bills have been submitted to Congress to legalize cannabis on a national basis in the United States. While those bills churn through the legislative process, individual states continue passing their own various degrees of legislation. As of this writing 9 states now allow full recreational access, and another 30 allow medicinal access.
There are pros and cons to the recreational programs versus medical programs. The most obvious benefit of recreational programs is that anyone over 21 can just walk in off the streets with a valid driver's license and buy cannabis products, like buying a coffee at Starbucks. However, that's only an option in 9 states, and there are some nuances to the programs in those states that offer both options, such as tax savings on medicinal cannabis. However, for medicinal purposes, you need a Medical Cannabis ID Card which is procured through a bureaucratic state-authorized process that includes a referral (prescription) from a certified physician. Organizations around the country are popping up to help people maneuver this byzantine process, and secure the doctor's recommendation required to get a medical card.
So how, exactly, does one go about getting a medical card in those 39 or so states that allow it? We've spoken with the folks at PrestoDoctor for some answers.
Obviously providing medical marijuana cards is a relatively new business. What were you doing before this, and how/why did you launch this business?
We were always passionate about medical marijuana. Even during the time it wasn’t as widely accepted, we always saw the medicinal value. One day, after trying to obtain a medical marijuana card, we saw how dreadfully inefficient, both with time and money, the old way of getting a medical marijuana card was. We were waiting in line for a long time, just to see a doctor who barely knew anything about the plant. It was awkward and off-putting. That’s when we thought of PrestoDoctor - a completely online, medical marijuana evaluation service.
We really care about providing an easier way to access medical marijuana. This is an industry that has been in the dark for too long. We wanted to be a part of the movement to fight the old stereotypes, and help get people the medical care they deserve, without all the hassles and bureaucracy (or at least minimizing them as much as humanly possible).
Laws vary from state to state. Which states do operation within? And what are the challenges with dealing with all of the ever-evolving state laws, and how do you handle them?
We operate in California, New York, Nevada, and soon to be Pennsylvania!
We have an absolutely amazing law team, so thankfully we have always been pretty well-informed on minor state law differences. The bigger challenge is the different stereotypes that certain states have against medical marijuana. Even just informing people that medical marijuana is a legal and safe option can be a hurdle.
Additionally, many people have a hard time believing how easy we make it. We do same day appointments, and don’t make patients pay if they don’t qualify - so it’s extremely curated toward the patient experience.
So you take the risk out of the process, which is very consumer-friendly.
What do you see as the greatest opportunities in this space?
We are all really passionate about helping alleviate the opioid epidemic. According to the U.S. Department of Human Services, 11.5 million Americans misuse opioid prescriptions, and 116 people die everyday from opioid related drug overdoses. This is absolutely heartbreaking.
The American Legion, the largest U.S. Veteran organization, has publicly stated their support of medical marijuana as an opioid alternative. Research has shown it to be a much safer alternative, and people want it. Nobody wants to be addicted to opioids - more often than not it's a side effect. We see a lot of opportunity in helping those addicted transition to medical marijuana.
Where do you see medicinal marijuana, from an industry and legalization standpoint, 3 years from now?
As an industry, we see it growing up a bit more. We see more people taking it seriously, and the old stereotypes dissolving. Legally, we see more states move toward legalization. It’s a trend that isn’t stopping anytime soon!
Do you think that national legalization will disrupt your business? What do you see as the future of your business if legalization passes at some point?
We fully support legalization, and do not see it as a threat to our business. We work with patients with a variety of medical conditions, and our specialized doctors help them throughout their treatment journey. We give customized recommendations that help medical patients with dosing levels, consumption options, and more.
Additionally, medical marijuana patients receive tax breaks that definitely add up if you’re a consistent user.
What piece of advice do you have for new patients?
For new patients, we recommend you work with a doctor who understands the plant and makes you feel comfortable. At the end of the day it’s a medicine, so figuring out the best way to treat your condition should always be the top priority.
If you suffer from one of the many qualifying conditions, especially opioid use, we strongly urge anyone who is considering medical marijuana to talk to one of our doctors or our support staff. It can be a life changing decision!
PrestoDoctor launched in March 2015 with a mission to bring easier medical marijuana access to patients through their online recommendations. They offer privacy, convenience, & customized recommendations, so patients receive the best experience from the comfort of their own home. PrestoDoctor gives online medical marijuana evaluations in California, New York, Nevada, and soon to be Pennsylvania. In September 2018, they launched PrestoDoctor Shop - a medical marijuana patient curated shop.