Correcting a Myth: Lifetime Medical Cannabis Recommendations are Legal in Washington State

Correcting a Myth: Lifetime Medical Cannabis Recommendations are Legal in Washington State

In Washington Statemedcannabis, physicians that specialize in medical cannabis often offer 1-year and 2-year recommendations to qualifying individuals, though don’t offer ones that last indefinitely (‘lifetime recommendations”). Many dispensaries throughout the state, in fact, will deny patients who have lifetime recommendations, claiming that it’s required for a recommendations to be renewed either yearly, or biyearly. This, however, just isn’t true. Lifetime recommendations are entirely legal in Washington State, which we confirmed through the state’s Department of Health.

An example of a location denying patients who have lifetime recommendations is the Northwest Cannabis Market, which operates two medical cannabis farmers markets in Seattle. We contacted their Rainier Ave. location to ask why they deny lifetime recommendations that are signed after 2011, and were told that the law requires it. When we corrected them, we were then told its their policy, “simply as that” (they wouldn’t comment further on the issue).

We then contacted the 16th Ave SW location to confirm this policy, which they did. When we asked why this was the case despite it not being the law, we were told that the reason is not disclosed to the public or media. When we asked why they would require patients to pay for additional recommendations that they aren’t legally required to obtain, we were hung up on.

Unfortunately this is commonplace throughout the state. We urge patients to stand up against this, and to point out that there’s nothing in the law that requires medical cannabis recommendations to be renewed. Those who tell you otherwise are either uninformed, or have an ulterior motive.

Washington State’s full medical cannabis law – which doesn’t require recommendations to be renewed – can be found by clicking here.



  • budtender 502 style
    February 2, 2015

    Basic customer service includes people you aren’t selling things to.
    People like your coworkers, bank tellers, and even the media.
    They all deserve the basic decency of customer service.

    It’s a shame when “businesses” treat curious folks this way.
    Everyone else out there, keep fighting the good fight.

  • Harry Om
    February 2, 2015

    If, after pointing this out to “stores”, publish the address and the name of the store and go elsewhere. They might eventually get the message when they start losing customers. I don’t shop where I’m not welcomed. ( Same goes for shops that don’t know their strain info, including where they procure their cannabis.

  • Selena Eon
    February 3, 2015

    What about: which shows a maximum of 12 month authorizations once accepted by the professional boards?

    • travis
      February 3, 2015

      those are guidelines it doesn’t mean that lifetime recommendations aren’t legal. if a doctor goes against these guidelines and gives someone a lifetime rec, or they gave one out before these guidelines were passed, the recommendation is 100% legal for the patient and no dispensary should reject it.

      • Paul
        February 3, 2015

        look up sec 69.51A.010. if you know medican and how medical law works with it, you will see how to keep your lifetime valid, you have to stay in regular contact with your doc, or update them. or your NOT valid

        • sam
          February 5, 2015

          I just read that section, please quote the section you’re referring to. Apparently I’m blind and cannot read plain english

  • Ant
    February 3, 2015

    This obviously. Is about $$. Grow your own. And don’t buy from a club. The club is illegally run in The first place. Our law only allowed collective gardens . 10 patient maximum and a 24 hr window from someone dropping membership and gaining membership, don’t give law makers a reason. To gut medical laws.

  • Weatherhead
    February 3, 2015

    For me, the big question is were are people getting a life time recommendation? I can’t even find one to do 2 years even though my conditions are permanent and progressive. All of my Dr’s support my use but none can sign a recommendation due to federal funding and policies at their clinics. I think if it was a more common option, it would also be more readily recognized and accepted. But that would mean someone’s missing out on that annual fee of $100-$300. So sadly not likely to become very common at all.

    • Selena Eon
      February 3, 2015

      Yes, and also because DOH guidelines now state a maximum of 12 months on cannabis authorizations. They are formalizing this guideline with each professional board. I’m a doc, and I won’t go against guidelines set for my profession…. suspect other docs feel the same way.

      • travis
        February 4, 2015

        doh guidelines doesn’t mean lifetime recs aren’t legal because they are and are given out by primary care physicians often because i got one just a couple weeks ago.

  • Brian Grad
    June 9, 2015

    Edward Abbey said “Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion”. Beginning July 1, 2016 all authorizations must be entered on a form being developed by the State Dpt. of Health. This means your current authorization must be submitted for approval and as I read it you will need a new authorization. All authorizations will expire in 6 months or a year depending on whether a minor or adult. Furthermore if you submit your authorization for entry into a state administered database then you acquire greater protection from arrest and do not need an affirmative defense. If you choose not to be entered into the database then you are limited to growing up to 4 plants and possession of up to 6 ounces of usable marijuana. These are new changes to the law this year. The old cards and “lifetime” authorizations will soon be a thing of the past.

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