Los Angeles (Conspiracy Talk News) – When Elías Zaldívar was 18 years old and wanted to get marijuana, he did not have to go through the corridors of the university in search of that doped-faced boy who sold it in his classroom.
I was going right to a doctor.
On a busy Hollywood street, he quickly discovered a clinic specialised in derivations for yerba. After a 10-minute video conference with a doctor, the receptionist was given an official-looking letter with a gold embossed stamp that allowed him to buy medical marijuana at any dispensary in California.
Zaldívar, now 21 years old and a mixed martial arts trainer, has renewed his certificate every year to acquire medical marijuana, always on the same pretext. He laughs when he remembers what he said to the doctor who issued him the first prescription: “I told him I had anxiety.”
In the two decades since California authorised the use of cannabis for medical reasons – it was the first state to do so – it has been an open secret that anyone who wants marijuana for whatever reason can find a doctor who will recommend it almost under any pretext.
Technically what the doctor issues is not a prescription but a “recommendation letter” because it is illegal to prescribe a substance that is prohibited by the federal government, no matter what the state law says.
Once the recommendation is obtained, the person can request a certificate issued by the state, which, although it is not mandatory, is always convenient to be taken seriously as someone who needs to consume yerba to preserve health.
Although some doctors who take the test seriously charge much more, the fees for the places that do it in 10 minutes are about $40.
Now that marijuana for recreational use will become legal for those over 21 as of January 1, some will throw their state papers in the trash.
It is estimated that revenues from the sale of medical marijuana will fall from $2 billion in 2016 to $ 1,400 million next year, according to a study published this year by the Center for Agricultural Affairs at the University of California. The same study calculates that the sale of recreational marijuana will raise more than 5,000 million dollars by acquiring 62% of the transactions, while the black market will retain 30%.
Zaldívar and others say that they have already seen market forces in action. In the months prior to the legalization of recreational grass, many of the dispensaries that they frequent allow them to get it without their state certificates.
“As they get closer to legalisation, they do not even ask for letters of recommendation,” said Adam Salcido, 22, who works for a company that organises crowded events such as Hempfest and Cannabis Cup. He obtained his card to treat stomach disorders that he says he has suffered from childhood, and for now he plans to keep it.
Many people, like Salcido, do consume marijuana to treat serious health conditions.
“Some doctors, like me, who received very serious patients – with epilepsy, cancer and other disorders – probably will not lose customers, since they handle all the cannabis treatment, not just the issuance of the access card,” said Dr. Bonni Goldstein. , a paediatrician who began to treat both children and adults with cannabis 10 years ago, when he proved the medicinal benefits.
There could also be a financial incentive to get the medical certificate because the tax on it is less than that applied to the recreational. But for this last consumer, the savings probably will not compensate for the effort and cost of obtaining the ID.
But as some dispensaries turn into simple yerba stores that sell chocolates or cannabis wine, pots for sale per piece and crackers for die-hard consumers, some doctors say that this will affect professionals who have become accustomed to doing so. consult with the patient by Skype and send the prescription or recommendation – by email.
“Doctors follow one of two paths. Some are those who practice quality medicine, others who see in this a means to earn a lot of money, “said Dr. David Bearman, who began prescribing the medicine shortly after its legalisation in 1996.
Bearman founded the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine to differentiate himself from colleagues as one who put a girl in a bikini at the door of her office with a sign announcing the sale of medical marijuana prescriptions for $ 39.99.
“That’s why the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use is so important,” said Goldstein, who like Bearman talks to the patient face to face for an hour or more and only issues the ID if the clinical record convinces him that the person suffers from a serious disorder that cannabis can help relieve.
“That medicinal patients are medicinal,” he added, “and that recreational consumers consume it for recreation.”