A guest piece By MATT HAND
I’ve loved cannabis for over 20 years. I recently decided to become a therapeutic cannabis patient via Veriheal to cope with anxiety.
I’ve always been worried, sensitive, and an overthinker who gets stuck in negative loops. Cannabis revealed itself as a healer. It gave me a long-lasting feeling that a burden was lifted, worry was gone, a physical and mental soothing freed up my mind to process what I was feeling.
I have since been diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder, and come up as depressed on questionnaires. So I took up as a mission to seek out and educate myself about the solution that worked best: cannabis!
Procuring the medicine always created anxiety: finding it, affording it, being stealthy. Does this smell outside of the garage? I pined for the day cannabis would be legal and accepted. Surely that would increase its ability to eliminate my overall fear and anxiety.
When New Jersey’s Medical Marijuana Program (NJMMP) was rolled out, I knew with the short list of approved diagnoses I would not be a legal toker soon. A decade later cannabis has gained ground as an accepted medicine for an expanded base of patients.
There are a variety of doctors that see patients for therapeutic cannabis and write referrals. Like everything in Jersey, it is an expensive process with multiple in-person doctor visits. Each comes with a price tag not covered by insurance due to cannabis’ status as a Schedule I substance.
I came across services that all seemed to-good-to-be-true: pay $ for your NJ Medical Card virtually! Some websites seemed legit, some seemed scammy. After wading through them and reading reviews from message boards, I set up an appointment with Veriheal. In their reviews, patients liked it, saving money from in-person doctor visits and time.
On June 16th, after my supply dried up, I took responsibility for my mental health and booked an appointment. The appointments were booked out for a month, landing me a July 16th appointment. I was hoping for something sooner.
The process was like signing up for anything online with a few health questions. They requested I upload medical documents, which was not mandatory. I did not have my records, but this was not a problem. I uploaded documents to confirm my address and identity, a passport-style photo, my debit card information, and sent $200. My appointment was set, and the waiting began.
Veriheal Appointment for Anxiety
Waiting and anxiety go hand in hand. I checked my patient portal on their website a couple of times a week. I engaged their chat function to see if cancellations or new appointments opened up. Luckily, they were able to move me up a week to July 9th.
On the day of my appointment, I saw in my patient portal I could enter the chat. I approached the process skeptical. Once I entered the chat, a doctor came on a few minutes after my appointment was scheduled.
The quality of the video chat was mediocre. We both had to repeat ourselves. The doctor confirmed my ID and details, and asked for my diagnosis. I stated “Anxiety Disorder”. He replied I was going to get a prescription for 1.5 ounces a month. The doctor explained I would be getting an email with a number I would use to sign into the NJMMP website to fill out my application with the state.
After six hours I had the PDF with the NJMMP form email and reference number. When I went to the website to fill it out, all of my information was there, though they misspelled my town.
The website asked for the reference number, driver’s license/ passport, proof of residence, and a passport-style photo. I knew because my driver’s license does not have my current address I had to upload a second document to prove my residence so I uploaded a utility bill. I received an email from NJ MMP saying it would be 2-3 weeks for processing to get an approval email with a payment link for $100 to the NJMMP for the ID.
My anxiety began setting in again. I called about the typo. The operator was nice and said I uploaded sufficient documentation. The spelling error was not an issue. They mentioned my application date was on a 24-day cycle to be approved. I received my NJMMP approval and payment link on July 31st.
On August 8th I received my card in the mail, with a letter on the nuances of the program and a list of ATCs. Funny how a small plastic card took something I hid for 20 years and made it accepted and legitimized. The value of having nothing to hide while addressing mental health issues is truly priceless.
Having access to medicine without having to go through people for inconsistent products adds to the value. The legitimacy of the card is part of the perfect “set and setting” for cannabis to heal.
Telehealth based services like Veriheal, are the easiest way to access therapeutic cannabis. For a long-time consumer like me who understands strains and dosage, the process is the best choice to get a therapeutic cannabis card.