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Cannabis 101: How Does a Doctor Become a Certified Physician in AZ, MD, MN, NM, NY & OH?

As poll after poll shows, a growing number of Americans trust in the beneficial healing power of medical cannabis. But how do doctors get to become a certified cannabis physician?

While each state handles the question a little differently, they all impose strict requirements on doctors who want to help us use medical cannabis safely and effectively. Because they recognize the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship, medical cannabis states protect both parties’ right to freely and openly discuss the use of medical cannabis. But in most cases, doctors still don’t “prescribe” it; instead, they’re allowed to “certify” their patients can use it.

Keep in mind that, in addition to any state requirements for healthcare providers, medical cannabis patients must also register with their state government and complete any prerequisites before obtaining cannabis medicine. Your state’s medical cannabis governing agency website will spell out the process in more detail.

Here’s a state-by-state rundown of the process in Arizona, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

How a Doctor Becomes a Certified Cannabis Physician in Arizona

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Doctors in the Grand Canyon State who want to recommend cannabis must fill out Arizona’s MMJ Physician Certification first. If your primary care physician declines to certify you, don’t lose heart: Any medical, osteopathic or naturopathic doctor who has completed their state certification can in turn certify you to use medical cannabis. 

How a Doctor Becomes a Certified Cannabis Physician in Maryland

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To legally recommend cannabis in Maryland, any licensed doctor must a) be registered to prescribe controlled substances and b) complete a two-hour online course on the fundamentals of cannabis medicine. After that, they’re invited to register as a provider with the state. Maryland requires such providers to review every patient’s medical records, complete an in-person assessment of their history and current condition, among other steps.

How a Doctor Becomes a Certified Cannabis Physician in Minnesota

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Minnesota takes an expansive view on helping patients get certified for medical cannabis. Here, physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses can certify patients (in addition to doctors). The process for healthcare providers to get certified is straightforward: After they create an online account with the state’s Medical Cannabis Registry, they’re permitted to certify potential patients.  

How a Doctor Becomes a Certified Cannabis Physician in New Mexico

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Meanwhile, in New Mexico, any healthcare provider licensed to prescribe and administer controlled substances can recommend medical cannabis. This is done on a case-by-case basis using the state’s Medical Cannabis Patient Application.

How a Doctor Becomes a Certified Cannabis Physician in New York

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In the Empire State, physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants who want to recommend cannabis must first be qualified to treat patients living with one or more of the state’s qualifying conditions. Then, after completing a cannabis education requirement and registering with the state as a medical cannabis practitioner, these healthcare providers are permitted to recommend medical cannabis to qualifying patients. More information is available on the state’s detailed Practitioner Page.

How a Doctor Becomes a Certified Cannabis Physician in Ohio

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In order to recommend medical cannabis in the Buckeye State, licensed physicians must first obtain a “Certificate to Recommend” from the State Medical Board. Then, after completing the required continuing education credits in a state-certified course in cannabis medicine, doctors can recommend medical cannabis according to the specifics described in Ohio’s requirements for cannabis-certified practitioners.