Until full legalization goes into effect (recreational sales are expected to begin on January 1, 2018), Californians still need a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana in order to partake. We all know that obtaining one is as easy as scoring a pot truffle in the park, but at least now we have classier, more efficient options than the MMJ docs in dank little offices on our city's seediers blocks. Check out the best spots to get your card, as well as a few doctors and nurses who are changing the landscape of modern medicine.
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Coolest Clinic: Green Evaluations at Amoeba Records
Getting your medical marijuana card from Green Evaluations at Haight Street's Amoeba Records is pretty much the most San Francisco thing you'll ever do—seriously, it's a weirdly perfect meeting of the city's past—the epicenter of free love and the legalization movement—and present, where competent doctors await to bestow magic upon you in a clean, professional cannabis clinic. It's an all new reason to revisit Amoeba's acre of rock history—rather like the Library of Alexandria in this age of digital streaming. This past September, Berkeley's Amoeba store also got a license to deal. —David Downs // 1855 Haight St. (Upper Haight), sfgec.com; and 2455 Telegraph Ave. (Berkeley), amoeba.com
Doc in the Box: Meadow MD
A 2015 graduate from startup incubator Y Combinator, Meadow is perhaps best known for its delivery service—the company, which recently raised dough from the CEO of Reddit, aggregates cannabis product from an array of dispensaries to offer one of the largest mobile selections around. But perhaps Meadow's best kept secret is its online service for providing medical marijuana recommendations. That's right—the era of the barred-window MMJ clinic is nearing its end. Simply go online, enter your zip code, and schedule a 20 to 30 minute video evaluation with a board-certified doctor. You'll be done before you can say Sweet Island Skunk. —Chloe Hennen // Meadow online doctor evaluations ($100), getmeadow.com
(Courtesy of HelloMD)
Your Handy Telemedicine App: HelloMD
Too busy to mess with a chat about your insomnia with the local MMJ doc? Download HelloMD, a snappy, fully legal and secure smartphone app that will give you a physician's recommendation for cannabis via videoconference. In just 20 minutes, you'll be on your way. —D.D. // $49, hellomd.com
The Cannabis Nurse: Eloise Theisen, Green Health Consultants
#CannabisHeals is more than just a hashtag—new studies are constantly proving the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Need someone to help you navigate using cannabis for a complex condition? Call Eloise Theisen, a registered nurse who counsels patients on how to use cannabinoids safely and effectively to treat illnesses and reduce the intake of pharmaceuticals. She provides patients with phone, office and in-home counseling, and individualized treatment plans developed in collaboration with dietitians and patients' doctors. —Andrea Brooks // 3184 Old Tunnel Rd., Ste E (Lafayette), greenhealthconsultants.com
(Courtesy of PrestoDoctor)
Like Magic: PrestoDoctor
Talk about efficiency. With this nifty medical website, patients can get a doctor's recommendation in about 20 minutes. Simply answer a brief questionnaire about your medical history, explain why you think medical marijuana might be right for you, upload a copy of your driver's license, and then schedule your online doctor visit (sort of like Skype). When the session is over, your recommendation will be emailed to you instantly, and you'll be in line at the Apothecarium in less than an hour. The day after I signed up, I received my official chip-readable card and an embossed, signed letter of rec in the mail. Presto! —David Lytle // $69, prestodoctor.com
Dr. Donald Abrams
The Miracle Doctor: Dr. Donald Abrams, UCSF
Oncologist Dr. Donald Abrams, of UCSF's Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, is something of a miracle worker. Not for curing cancer—that's his day job, where he helps patients combine the best of Western medicine with the most effective Eastern modalities. No, Dr. Abrams' miracle is his repeated success in convincing the U.S. government to let him study actual cannabis treatments for conditions including HIV and sickle cell disease. When the DEA finally does reschedule marijuana, be sure to send a thank-you note to this patient, persistent, kind, and funny Noe Valley resident who paved the way. // DUCSF Osher Center, osher.ucsf.edu
The Medical Marijuana Expert: Dr. Rachna Patel
MMJ docs abound, but there's only one Dr. Rachna Patel, who helps patients with both simple and complex medical cases navigate the world of cannabis. The abundance of products on the market can be overwhelming—Which product do I use for a headache? Which one is for cramps? And those aren't even complicated health issues! Dr. Patel sees patients in person to create personalized treatment plans for everything from anxiety to fibromyalgia and Crohn's disease. She'll examine your lab results, teach you what to shop for, and take into consideration that all-important factor: Do you want to feel high? —A.B. // 710 S. Broadway, Ste. 204 (Walnut Creek), drrachnapatel.com
Meet our Cannabis Guide Authors:
(Illustrations by Julia Barzizza)
(From left to right)
Andrea Brooks is the San Francisco–based founder and CEO ofSava, an online marketplace for high-quality, hand-crafted cannabis goods.
David Downs is a San Francisco–based award-winning freelance journalist, best-selling author, and 7x7's Cannabis Insider columnist.
Jimi Devine has been involved in the cannabis industry since 2005. He writes for SFGate's "Smell the Truth," Cannabis Now, and more.
Amanda Reiman, PhD, is a cannabis expert, vegan, Oakland evangelist, and teaches classes on sex and drugs at UC Berkeley.
Flavia Cassani is a cannabis enthusiast, entrepreneur, Flow Kana cofounder, and environmental devotee.
Chloé Hennenis 7x7's editor in chief who got curious about cannabis in the Bay Area and decided to make this guide.