How to (legally) get high

    Graphic by Sasha Costello / North by Northwestern

    Hello, it’s me, your resident Crohn’s Disease expert. Crohn’s Disease is a gastroenterological disorder that affects my large and small intestines. Basically, my intestines are inflamed and it can hurt when I eat certain foods. I was diagnosed when I was sixteen, followed by years of fun medications and watching what I eat. I have been hearing about the virtues of medical marijuana for Crohn’s Disease for a while now, so, naturally, when medical marijuana was legalized in Illinois, I decided it was worth it to look into getting a card. Components found in cannabis are said to help reduce the inflammation in my stomach. I ultimately decided that getting a card is not worth it for me right now, but I have documented my process so that you can make that decision for yourself.

    Step 1: I looked up “Medical Marijuana Illinois” on Google, and I was taken to a website called “Norml” which gave me a list of the qualifying conditions. Lo and behold, Crohn’s Disease was right up towards the top. Other conditions include Alzheimer's, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Tourette’s Syndrome. So basically, nothing really applicable to your average college student. 

    Step 2: Just for shits and gigs I decided to look up the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in California. Conditions include: migraines, anxiety and severe nausea. Let’s just say it’s a bit easier to get a card in California.

    Step 3: I went to the application page for the card and was prompted to make an account. However, the website warned me to not send my application in just yet because on May 4, eleven new conditions may be added to the list. I made my account, and I was taken to a page to start my application. (Side note: this website moves really slowly). 

    Step 4: On the opening page of the application, in bold letters, I am told that I must be a resident of Illinois during the whole process (check), have a qualifying debilitating condition (check), have a signed physician certification for the use of medical cannabis (eek), complete a fingerprint-based background check (double eek) and, finally, be 18 or older (check). This is where it all started to go downhill.

    Step 5: According to the application’s home page, a completed application includes: a completed application form, a proof of residency, a proof of identity, a photograph of me, a physician's written certification, a fingerprint consent form, a selection of my medical cannabis dispensary, and information for my designated caregiver. On top of it all, there was a pretty hefty application fee which I will talk about later. 

    I was pretty sure that I could get all the needed parts of the application, except the physician’s certification. I knew my Crohn’s Disease doctor would not give his consent to try medical marijuana since the treatment regime he has me on has been working, so I did some research to try and find another doctor that could give his consent. I searched “marijuana doctor” on Google and I came across “The Healing Clinic” on Belmont Avenue in Chicago. I figured this would function like the doctors one would find in California, but sadly it did not. Simply booking an appointment required about as much paperwork as the application, and there was a copay of more or less $100.


    Annual Qualified Application Fee: $100, meaning I would have to spend $100/year on my card.

    FingerprintCould cost $30-$60.

    Annual Designated Caregiver Application Fee: $25, meaning whomever I choose to be my caregiver must pay.

    The actual weed: 1 gram of weed can cost you up to 20 dollars.

    Doctor's Visit: ~$100

    This is where my search came to a stop, because I do not feel as though I know enough about medical marijuana and Crohn’s Disease to invest so much money. Ultimately, getting a card was not for me, but if you make an informed decision, and really believe that the card would be worth it, then I say go for it. Just remember you’re going to need to have a lot of cash and lot of patience to get through this process.


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