Recently, a San Francisco Smoke Reporter sent us a personal account of his experience getting a medical cannabis recommendation from a physician.  He felt that the evaluation process deserved to be exposed as a professional and carefree adventure. We love to hear stories like these from Smoke Reporters within the community. Personal accounts can go a long way in reassuring other individuals who may be apprehensive considering the legal climate of cannabis. Hopefully, this typical experience as described by TJSPENCESM will supply future cannabis patients with the confidence to get their medical evaluations.

Easy and Professional

More than five years ago, my twenty-seven year old son got his California Medical Marijuana Identification Card. I’m a little late to this party, but I have been aware about legal cannabis for some time now, and decided I was ready to test the benefits of cannabis for myself. I wanted to share my experience with those who, like me, are getting their cannabis recommendation for the first time and may have apprehensions about the process. Spoiler alert: the experience of getting my cannabis card was simple and professional, and felt very similar to a CVS trip for a flu shot (without the needles).

Once I had decided that I was going in for a cannabis evaluation, I felt overwhelmed with questions. What should I look for in my doctor? Where is the best place to get evaluated? What if the doctor doesn’t think I qualify for cannabis? I asked my friends at for some tips, and received a few recommendations and even some discount coupons for various doctors. From what I gathered, acquiring a cannabis card is not as much of an ordeal as I was making it out to be, and I was assured that every doctor was going to be relatively the same in terms of price and information. I chose an evaluation center located on Haight Street near Golden Gate Park. The evaluation center was above the world’s greatest record store (Amoeba), and flipping through the bins of vinyl records made my day.


I called for an appointment (highly recommended) and within a minute, was on the books and expected within two hours. It was reinforced that I must bring a government photo ID, which did not surprise me. A very friendly individual, Jessie, greeted me upon my arrival. The office was neat and very clean. Although it was not arranged to the standard one might expect in a high-rise medical building or hospital, I was in the Haight above the world’s best record store getting a cannabis card. I must say my overall expectations had already been exceeded.


Inside of the Evaluation Center

Knowing that I was a first-timer (new patient, rather than card renewal), Jessie communicated in a very comforting and professional tone. I was asked to fill out an information sheet and a medical history form. The medical history form was not very detailed, and both sheets appeared to be required by state law. Jessie took my picture for the ID and then introduced me to the doctor in a separate room.

The doctor was smart and professional. We discussed my symptoms, including headaches that start at the back of my neck and often prevent me from sleeping. The doctor and I discussed my upper back and neck physiology, including my posture when working or at a computer. The doctor provided information on back exercises and posture, and also gave me an ailment guide explaining which cannabis compounds have produced beneficial results for my symptoms. The doctor also pointed out that some cannabis strains have compounds for symptom relief that do not contain THC, and would not produce a psychoactive effect. I had heard about CBD before, but the doctor very thoroughly answered my questions, and suggested I explore cannabis concentrates (edibles, tinctures) if I was interested in discrete consumption.


Example of a Medical Cannabis Card

After speaking with the doctor about both cannabis and alternative treatments, I went back out to the front room where Jessie completed the process by providing me with two important items: a written Therapeutic Cannabis Recommendation (signed by the doctor), and a laminated California Medical Marijuana Identification card. The cost was $44 for the evaluation and an additional $20 for the laminated card, which I was assured by the team at Smoke Reports was a necessity. The card is valid for a full year, at which time I can get a discounted renewal as a returning patient. The total cost (about $65) is apparently pretty standard for evaluations in California, although prices do vary. Excluding the time spent browsing vinyl records and vintage posters, the process took a total of fifteen minutes. Overall, it was a professional and positive experience, and now I have the ability to manage my health in a whole new way.

Using Smoke Reports Before My First Dispensary Visit

I took time prior to my first visit to investigate products on and other websites. I had some ideas about which strains would help me feel uplifted and which ones would help me feel more relaxed. I decided to venture to Grass Roots, a San Francisco dispensary located near Post and Van Ness. At the door was a heavy security-type screen which was opened by a gentleman who was the perfect mix of customer advocate and intimidating security personnel (which I appreciate in the Tenderloin). He checked my photo ID and my medical cannabis card, and upon learning I was a first-timer, he directed me to a comfy chair where I was asked to fill out paperwork to become a member of the collective. The sign-up process took less than five minutes.

Grass roots has a very interesting atmosphere. It felt like a modern take on a turn-of-the-century Victorian pub. Everything was neat, clean, casual and comfortable. The painted tin ceiling and the large mirror-backed bar set-up felt inspired by San Francisco history.

I introduced myself to my budtender Michael, who was warm and friendly, and generous with his time and knowledge. I explained my medical symptoms and Michael displayed a number of relevant strains for my review. He explained the etiquette of purchasing from dispensaries, and explained that gently touching and smelling the buds was acceptable, although the flowers always maintained a respectable distance from my nose.

We discussed concentrates, and I was most intrigued by the tinctures as they are a more discreet way to consumer cannabis. Finally, he showed me some of the edibles available, and I was drawn to the Kiva Terra Bites, a small round box of chocolate-blueberry bits that contain 5mg of THC each. I purchased this candy and was asked to choose a cannabis gift, either a pre-roll or an edible. I found out it is very common for dispensaries to offer a gift for first-time members.

As it was explained to me by my friends at Smoke Reports, every dispensary has its own environment. Some go for the “medical clinic” feel, others go for a “grocery store” vibe, and some dispensaries focus primarily on displaying “high-security” in order to make their clients feel comfortable. As you are exploring dispensaries in your area, I suggest picking the locations where the people and the environment are trustworthy and encouraging, although everyone is different and requires different characteristics from their local dispensaries.

I hope that my experience of getting a medical cannabis card and exploring dispensaries in California helps individuals feel confident with the overall process. Thank you for your time.  – TJSPENCESM (Smoke Reporter)

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