“Did you know there’s a medical marijuana shop right across the street?” I once asked my boyfriend upon entering our apartment.

“Uh, yeah,” he said. “We’ve lived here a year and it took you this long to notice?”

So, um, yeah. I’m not the most proactive when it has come to taking advantage of medical marijuana in this great state of Washington. I daresay I was enjoying it on the down low every once in a while, so why bother, right? But even though recreational weed is legal in Washington, you should still get your MMJ card proper. Here’s why.

Not having your MMJ card is like refusing to take public transit or shop online—you’re just cutting off another resource that might come in handy when you’re in need. And considering there are hundreds of MMJ shops in Washington vs. the handful of rec shops as of this date, well, you do the math. Say you’re going camping for the weekend and forgot your stash. Or you just don’t feel like battling traffic across town. Your own MMJ card is a lot like that express Global Entry pass the TSA will give you so you don’t have to wait in line at the airport with the unwashed masses…it’s just faster and opens you up to all kinds of options.

Here’s my experience with the card so far, which I decided to get well after recreational cannabis was legalized.

The Clinic

“Isn’t getting your card as easy as just going in and complaining about your period?” my nurse practitioner sister (from another state where absolutely-fucking-nothing is legal) asked me. Um, no. It’s not that easy, but it’s close. You need to take a close, hard look at your medical records and find something that medical marijuana is great for. Since we live in a day and age where we are all stressed-out insomniacs, this shouldn’t be an issue. But you need a doctor’s notation on your chart that you have this problem, dig?

For me, it was easy. I have a bum knee and a bum wrist and now another bum arm from breaks and arthritis. Since I run and exercise quite a bit, these can get stressed and achy, especially with Seattle’s infamous weather. Arthritis, finally serving me a purpose!

We made an appointment at one of the Hope Clinics in Seattle. It was super easy. Bring in the appropriate medical paperwork, show your I.D., meet with the doctor for about 15 to 20 minutes to go over your conditions and medical history, pay $75 and Blam! You got your MMJ card.

The Cooperatives

Reportedly, Seattle has more MMJ clinics than Starbucks, so it’s not hard to throw a stone and find one across the city. But they are pretty nondescript. Looking for the simple green crosses is enough to get you going. Or use a map like Weedmaps or Leafly.

From what I’ve read and seen, all the shops will have a distinct look and feel to them on the inside, much like their proprietors. It’s your job to experiment until you find the right one: read reviews on Yelp, ask friends, see which one works for you.

Getting the green stuff is quite simple. You check in, fill out some forms, sign them. Boom. You’re in the cooperative’s customer group. Upon checking into the aforementioned shop I had walked by a gajillion times, Conscious Care Cooperative in Ballard, I was warmly greeted and shown past the tiny, simple entryway into the shop. It was like someone’s comfy living room, with nice couch and seating area, a flat-screen TV and a friendly dog named Tuna milling about.

After a minute or so of waiting, I was called into the back room, where my budtender gave me a personalized intro to what they had available and what would work best for me. A nice selection of weed, topical treatments (hello, Cannabis Basics!) and medibles awaited—it’s so cliche but true, kid in a candy store I be. I ended up trying two hybrids, Jesus and Green Ribbon, each only $11 a gram (which is yet another reason to get your MMJ card. Rec shops can charge up to $25 per gram. Ouch.) My budtender even threw in my Ettalew’s Medible for free since I was a first-time customer. Sweet.

While 502 is an important step in the decriminalization of cannabis, the MMJ clinics are still in a holding pattern of sorts…how exactly will regulation come down on them in the future? I have no idea, but I’m hoping, like everyone else who has been in the scene for a while, that they respect the clinics and allow the patient/budtender process to continue. After all, man and woman cannot live by recreational alone…this is ‘Merica, dammit, land of weed for all.

Care to share your favorite MMJ clinic below? Please do and we’ll try to stop by!

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