How Do I Become a Medical Cannabis Patient?
While recreational cannabis laws make it easier to buy cannabis in Nevada, there are still many benefits to being a medical cannabis patient. Fortunately, it’s much easier to become a cannabis patient in Nevada than in other states. The process is fairly simple.
First, find out whether the benefits of having a card appeal and apply to you. You’ll need a registry I.D. card if you:
- Are under 21 and need it to treat a medical condition
- Need more than an ounce of flower or 1/8 ounce of concentrate for a condition
- Live within 25 miles of a dispensary but still need to cultivate your own cannabis
You’ll also receive extra benefits as a cannabis patient, including an exemption from the state’s 10% retail excise tax.
If you’re just visiting Nevada and are already a registered cannabis patient in your home state, you don’t need to sign up. The reason? Nevada recognizes out-of-state patients as “visiting qualifying patients,” so you can use your own MMJ card while here.
Nevada’s Unusual Cultivation Rules
People who need to cultivate their own cannabis strains for personal use face an odd hurdle and possible criminal penalties if they choose to grow at home.
You’re only allowed to cultivate cannabis in Nevada if you live more than 25 miles away from a cannabis retail outlet, or have other compelling medical reasons requiring home growth.
You can grow cannabis for medical use within 25 miles of a dispensary if:
- You were cultivating your own before July 1, 2013
- All of the medical dispensaries within your county are closed or the dispensary can’t find the strain needed to treat your condition
- You are too ill or lack the transportation to visit a dispensary to purchase
Everyone else who lives within 25 miles of one is prohibited from cultivating their own – including recreational users. NRS 453D Sec.400
As you can see, there are still several great reasons to become a registered Nevada medical cannabis patient, despite recreational legalization.
Steps to Becoming a Nevada Medical Cannabis Patient
The first step is to find out if you qualify for a cannabis card. Only people with certain medical conditions can join the state program. These conditions are:
- Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
- Additional conditions, subject to approval by the Division
- Cachexia (general physical wasting and malnutrition from chronic disease)
- Persistent muscle spasms (including multiple sclerosis)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Seizures (including epilepsy)
- Severe nausea
- Severe pain (the most commonly reported condition)
Next, you’ll need to see a qualified doctor to discuss whether medical cannabis is right for you. With NuggMD, you can complete the entire process online. Even better, our cannabis concierge team can walk you through the entire process from beginning to end if you have any concerns or trouble.
If you cringe at the thought of losing half a day driving to the doctor and waiting just to see if you qualify (who doesn’t), choose NuggMD for a hassle-free process.
If and when your doctor has decided that cannabis is a viable option, you’ll need to register with the Nevada Medical Marijuana Registry (a simple process that we tell you exactly how to complete after receiving your online approval).
Those under 18-years-old will also need to obtain a minor release form, establish a caregiver, and have this parent or guardian fill it out.
When your application for medical marijuana is approved, you’ll receive your card by mail about a week later. But you don’t have to wait until then to start purchasing MMJ. Print out the temporary card, good for up to 60 days, and use it until the hard copy arrives.
* Note, patients no longer have to submit their medical cannabis application to the DMV in person. The entire process can be carried out online and through the mail.
Finding a Licensed Cannabis Doctor in Nevada
Make sure you find a legitimate doctor for your medical evaluation. Nevada has a very limited list of conditions that qualify for MMJ so a doctor promising approval, no matter your condition, probably isn’t compliant with the program.
NuggMD has several certified Nevada medical cannabis doctors who can honestly evaluate your condition and help you decide if cannabis is a beneficial option.
Whoever you choose, it may be helpful (although not required) to have thorough medical records on-hand for the conversation to ensure you receive the most appropriate evaluation and recommendation. These records might include:
- Detailed patient charts
- Physical therapy records
- List of your current prescriptions
- Records of all hospital visits
- Your medical test results, such as blood tests, x-rays and MRIs
If you dread the thought of sitting in a doctor’s office or just don’t have enough time in your day, a Nevada medical cannabis consultation can be performed online in the comfort and privacy of home. Simply go to getnugg.com/md/nevada and the Cannabis Concierge Team will walk you through the whole process.
Finding a Licensed Cannabis Doctor in Nevada
Here’s the NuggMD process:
1) Create a NuggMD account.
2) Provide your basic information, including age, name and address.
3) Fill out your medical history with as much detail as possible so your doctor will have all the information he or she needs to evaluate your condition.
4) Provide your payment info while you wait in the virtual waiting room. It shouldn’t take long since NuggMD has several fully-licensed physicians in the state. While you wait, make the best of your time chatting with one of our friendly and knowledgeable Cannabis Concierges to learn more about medical cannabis in Nevada.
5) Once your physician is available, he or she will conduct the medical evaluation via NuggMD’s telemedicine platform. The video consultation can be as long or short as you need, so don’t be afraid to ask questions about your prognosis and how cannabis will fit into your treatment plan.
A few questions to consider:
- Should I take CBD as well?
- What’s the best method of ingestion for me?
- Should I use more than one method of ingestion?
- What dose should I take, and how frequently?
- Will cannabis affect any other medications or herbs I’m currently using?
Be sure to tell your doctor about every single medicine, herbal supplement and vitamin you’re taking so he or she can warn you of any possible interactions.
6) As a NuggMD patient, you pay only $79 for a one-year or $99 for a two-year medical cannabis certification, the cheapest price offered for a medical marijuana card in Nevada.
7) If approved as a cannabis patient, you’ll receive specific instructions via email to complete the state registration process with Nevada’s Medical Marijuana Registry. Don’t worry about getting lost in the process. If you’re stuck or have any questions simply contact our Cannabis Concierge team for more help.
What Cannabis Consumption Methods Are Available to Me?
In this section, we’ll explore the three main methods in detail, each with many variations:
- Oral ingestion
- Topical application
Inhalation, the fastest method of ingestion, allows cannabis to enter your bloodstream directly through your lungs using joints, blunts, bongs, vape pens, dab rigs and more. Usually, the effects become noticeable after about ten minutes and peak around 30 to 90 minutes after inhaling.
Inhalation’s speed of onset and shorter half-life make it a much easier method to tweak for the maximum desired effect. And there’s less risk of ruining your day if you take too much as the effects wear off faster than with edibles.
But knowing your exact dose is nearly impossible because not all of the THC is absorbed into the lungs – some is lost in combustion. Also, the potency between flowers, vape oils, dabs and other inhalation methods is extremely varied.
Smoking or vaping carries a moderate risk for those with lung disease or other related disorders, so be sure to tell your doctor if you have any chronic lung conditions or other physical conditions that might contraindicate smoking or vaping.
A proper, reasonable dose of edible cannabis won’t feel exactly the same as smoking since the cannabis is converted to 11-hydroxy-THC in our livers. This is a different substance than the delta-9 THC we absorb through our lungs when smoking or vaping. Even experienced cannabis users can be in for a surprise if they’ve never tried edibles before.
Eating cannabis is the slowest administration method. Generally, you won’t feel the effects until about 60 minutes to three hours after consuming, although some take six hours or more to feel the effects.
Edibles are also the longest-lasting method and tend to have the strongest effect. Actually, strongest is an understatement. Eating edibles that are too strong for your tolerance can sometimes lead to a bad trip. So unless you want to feel your brain melt for most of the day, approach with extreme caution.
Remember this motto: Start low and go slow. You can always take more next time, but you can never take less. The generally recommended first-time dose is 5mg or less. Some will say 10mg, but it’s become apparent that this is too much for many first-time consumers.
Topicals are ideal for individuals who want the benefits of medical cannabis without the potent, psychoactive effects. They deliver THC, CBD and other active cannabinoids to the skin, but very little will absorb into the bloodstream.
Transdermal patches will be an exception to this rule as they’re designed to deliver the cannabinoids more efficiently through your skin barrier. These patches can make you high if they contain THC, so keep this in mind.
How Do the Effects of Cannabis Feel?
If you haven’t used cannabis before, you’re probably very curious about its effects. You’ve likely heard stories about weird food cravings, giggling fits and euphoria. Most of these tales are true, although there’s the occasional horror story depending on tolerance and/or dose.
If you’ve had a little too much, you may feel somewhat disconnected from reality or experience some paranoia. You could even hallucinate, although this is rarer. It’s more likely that colors will seem brighter and familiar faces will look a little off. You might also become more introspective and just want to spend some time by yourself being creative or just relaxing. Everyone is different.
Until you know how you’ll react to cannabis, plan pleasant activities for your first few times. Surround yourself with friends and family with whom you feel comfortable, and do so in a place that makes you feel happy, warm and fuzzy. Be sure to bring your favorite (healthy!) munchies along for the ride, as food cravings and thirst are nearly universal side-effects.
And do NOT drink alcohol, as it’ll most likely create a very unpleasant effect of being way too intoxicated, resulting in a headache, room-spinning and even vomiting.
Other common effects of cannabis are:
- Changed perception of time
- Decreased energy, colloquially called “the couch lock”
- Increased energy
- Loss of concentration
- Temporary memory loss
What If My Dose Is Too Much?
One side effect that no cannabis user enjoys is anxiety, which you can sudden develop if you ingest too much THC for your tolerance. Individual levels will vary from person to person, as we tend to develop a stronger tolerance the more cannabis we consume.
Even though your friend can scarf down a 100mg brownie and feel fine, you likely can’t if you haven’t eaten one before. If you took that much on your very first dose, you’d likely feel ready for a padded room.
If you take more cannabis than your body was prepared to handle, remember to stay calm. No one has ever died from a cannabis overdose. And don’t feel embarrassed either. Plenty of people have suffered a panic attack from consuming too many infused treats.
If you experience this problem, be sure to call your doctor as soon as possible to have your dosage adjusted to a more appropriate level. Most people are surprised to find out that the recommended edible dose for a first-timer is 5mg or less! Believe it or not, doses as low as 2.5mg are more than enough for some first-time cannabis consumers. Everyone metabolizes THC at different rates.
Again, start low and go slow! (We can never say this too often.) Remember that you can always take more, but you can never take less. Be patient and follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter.
* While no one has ever died of a cannabis overdose, you could develop a nasty condition called Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome. If you start to experience any abnormal symptoms like severe vomiting, call 911 or head to the nearest emergency room.
A Note About Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome
As more people are using larger doses of THC for medical use, Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome is becoming more common. No one knows what causes this problem, but it’s believed to be the result of over-stimulating CB1 and CB2 receptors with very high doses of THC.
The condition appears to occur in three distinct stages:
- Prodromal: Can last for months or years and consists merely of mild nausea and stomach pain. Unfortunately, it can lead to a vicious cycle since patients will often take more cannabis to relieve the symptoms.
- Hyperemetic: The patient begins vomiting profusely and may also become dehydrated and malnourished as they are unable to keep anything down. Often, only a hot shower will provide temporary relief from nausea. It’s vital to see a doctor if you haven’t already, because this is a very serious side-effect.
- Recovery: Starts when the cannabis use stops. Once it does, relief usually comes within days but sometimes takes months to recover. If cannabis use starts again, the symptoms will likely return.
No one knows why some people develop this condition and others don’t. Some users are also very skeptical that cannabis use can cause nausea and vomiting when it’s most commonly used to treat that condition.
But this is the nature of cannabis. It’s a biphasic drug, meaning that it can have different effects at different doses – another reason why it’s important to use cannabis responsibly.
There’s no way to tell ahead of time who will develop cannabis hyperemesis since it can take months to develop. So, as stated before, start low and go slow. Don’t let impatience or over-use ruin your day.
Nevada’s Recreational Cannabis Rules
While most of this guide covers medical cannabis, Nevada has legalized recreational use as well. So it’s a good idea to also know the recreational rules. Here are the basics of recreational cannabis in the state:
- Who can use recreational cannabis? Only adults 21 and over can use recreational cannabis.
- What kind of recreational cannabis is available? You can purchase flower, edibles, wax, creams, lotions, oils, seeds and even clones, although there are a few rules about personal recreational cultivation. You’re not allowed to cultivate marijuana within 25 miles of a retail marijuana store for personal use. You also can’t cultivate marijuana within public view, outdoors, or on a property that you’re not in lawful possession of.
- When can I buy cannabis? The hours that cannabis retailers are allowed to stay open vary from county to county.
- Where can I buy recreational cannabis? You can only buy recreational cannabis from state-registered vendors.
- How much cannabis can adults buy? Those who qualify can purchase up to an ounce of flower, or an eighth of concentrate.
How to Stay Out of Trouble in Nevada
Even though recreational cannabis is now legal, there are still plenty of ways to get into legal trouble:
- You can’t possess more than one ounce of recreational or 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis.
- You can’t smoke in public. It’s a misdemeanor with a $600 fine for the first offense.
- You can only grow 6 plants per person, and can’t grow more than 12 plants on your property, even if more than two qualified patients live there.
- You definitely can’t smoke and drive. It’s considered a DUI just like driving under the influence of alcohol.
- You can’t take cannabis across state lines. This violates federal law and is considered trafficking, even if you’re bringing it for your own personal medical use. And in that same light, never try to send or buy cannabis through the mail. You’ll be reported and possibly charged with a crime.
Need Help? Nugg’s Here for You
Nugg’s knowledgeable Cannabis Concierge team answers hundreds of questions every day via live chat and email. They love to think outside the box and help solve problems. If there is a solution, they’ll find it. (Of course, they can’t solve every problem since the laws aren’t perfect.)
In the rare case that Nugg is unable to help, the list below contains contacts and links for your legislators, regulators and some of the more active cannabis advocacy organizations. If you know of any other organizations we could add to this list, we’d love to hear from you.
You can also use this list to become a more active cannabis advocate. We’ve all made great strides with legalization, but we’re still in a battle to end the war on cannabis. Now is not the time to rest on our laurels. We still have work to do. Please join us and the rest of the marijuana majority as we advocate to end this unjust war.
Medical Marijuana Registry
4150 Technology Way, Ste 101
Carson City, NV 89706
Phone: (775) 687-7594
Fax: (775) 684-3213
- Americans for Safe Access
- American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp
- Drug Policy Alliance
- Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
- Marijuana Policy Project
- Project CBD
Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Cannabis in Nevada
How much cannabis am I allowed to possess for medical purposes?
Medical users are allowed two and one-half ounces of usable marijuana in any one 14-day period or edibles or concentrates containing up to 10,000mg total THC. Most medical patients don’t purchase anywhere near this limit, but there is the rare patient that eats up to 1,000mg a day of THC. If your doctor feels you need more, the Division will usually accommodate you.
Can I use a foreign ID to purchase adult use cannabis?
Yes. Purchase requires bona fide documentary evidence of the majority and identity of the recipient issued by a federal, state, county, or municipal government, or subdivision or agency thereof. NRS 453D.100 (b)(2) In other words, bring your passport or government ID from whichever country you are from.
Can I still get fired for using cannabis?
Yes. “The provisions of this chapter do not prohibit a public or private employer from maintaining, enacting, and enforcing a workplace policy prohibiting or restricting actions or conduct otherwise permitted under this chapter;” NRS 453D.100 (2)(a)
Can my landlord prohibit cannabis use in my residence?
Yes. The provisions of this chapter do not prohibit a person who occupies, owns, or controls a privately owned property from prohibiting or otherwise restricting the smoking, cultivation, processing, manufacture, sale, delivery, or transfer of marijuana on that property. NRS 453D.100 (2)(c)
How much cannabis can I possess for recreational use?
One ounce or less of flower, or 1/8 of an ounce or less of concentrate or edibles containing up to 1,750mg THC total. NRS 453D.110 and state website
How many plants can I grow for adult use?
6 for one person, and nor more than 12 if two or more adults live on the property. NRS 453D.110 But, you’re not allowed to cultivate marijuana within 25 miles of a retail marijuana store for personal use. You also can’t cultivate marijuana within public view, outdoors, or on a property that you’re not in lawful possession of.
Can I give cannabis away?
Yes, you can give or otherwise deliver up to an ounce of marijuana, or up to 1/8th of an ounce of concentrated marijuana without remuneration to a person provided that the transaction is not advertised or promoted to the public. RS 453D.110
Can I smoke in public?
No. It’s a maximum fine of $600 and a misdemeanor to smoke in public or in a moving vehicle. NRS 453D.400
Can I get a medical marijuana card in Nevada if I’m not a resident of the state?
No. NRS 453A.210 states clearly that a person must prove their residency in the state in order for a Nevada doctor to issue a medical marijuana card.
However, Nevada has decided to offer reciprocity to cannabis patients from other states. Medical marijuana patients who visit from other states will be able to purchase marijuana with their out of state recommendations or IDs. These are called “visiting qualifying patients.” Visiting qualifying patients will be held to the Nevada-specified purchase limits.
Deb Tharp is a cannabis activist, consultant, and writer. She began her cannabis activism at the age of 18, helping local candidates campaign door-to-door in the Midwest. Little did she know that the plant would save her husband's life a decade later. After watching him recover 60 pounds to his skeletal frame in a matter of months, she was convinced that the war on weed must end.
She ran for State Assembly in 2010 while completing her bachelor's degree at University of California, Irvine. During her campaign, she managed to bring cannabis legalization to the forefront of the debate. Little more than a year later, she was publicly arrested while gathering signatures for a cannabis ballot initiative in Orange County. She fired back at the county by qualifying Measure CC in Santa Ana under Kandice Hawes' of OC Norml’s expert leadership.
In the following years, she authored, qualified and helped to qualify over a dozen local legalization ballot initiatives across the state while teaching other activists how to do the same.
She currently writes for Nugg, the nation's largest online cannabis marketplace, while pursuing her law degree at Taft Law School and will graduate in 2021.