Will having a medical marijuana card hurt my friend's chances at medical school admission?

Jun 23, 2013
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My friend gets chronic migraine headaches which do not respond well to prescription medications (imitrex, amerge, relpax, and a few others) but are greatly relieved by vaporizing marijuana.

He lives in MA, where medical marijuana was just legalized and was thinking about getting a card because he hates doing illegal things, but the migraines are really helped by marijuana.

Would getting a card (assuming it was considered ok) be detrimental for medical school applications? Is there any way that a medical school would even have to know about it? What about residency, etc? This question isn't about drug tests - if a hospital had a drug test, obviously he would have to find another remedy.
 

Doctor Strange

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There is no way medical schools will be able to find out about "your friend's" medical marijuana. It's private medical information that is protected under federal law.
 
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Jul 14, 2012
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Thank-you so much for your speedy reply! Not trying to be a pain, but would you be able to explain your answers so I can understand better? I'm just not sure how HIPAA is effected by medical marijuana.
Nothing to explain. Getting a medical marijuana card is not detrimental to medical school admissions. There is no way for them to find out. Same for residency.
 

PreMedOrDead

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Nothing to explain. Getting a medical marijuana card is not detrimental to medical school admissions. There is no way for them to find out. Same for residency.
Wouldn't preclude drug tests, though.

was thinking about getting a card because he hates doing illegal things, but the migraines are really helped by marijuana.
Must really, really hate illegal things if he knows marijuana enough that it relieves his headaches.
 

BlueLabel

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Nothing to explain. Getting a medical marijuana card is not detrimental to medical school admissions. There is no way for them to find out. Same for residency.
But what happens if they give you a 5-panel and it comes back positive for marijuana? Some schools (like UTSW) do this and make matriculation contingent on a satisfactory outcome. I guess at that point you show your medical marijuana card and everything is fine?

I'm just saying I think it's a fair question.
 

PreMedOrDead

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But what happens if they give you a 5-panel and it comes back positive for marijuana? Some schools (like UTSW) do this and make matriculation contingent on a satisfactory outcome. I guess at that point you show your medical marijuana card and everything is fine?

I'm just saying I think it's a fair question.
It's a state-mandated law. Federally, marijuana is illegal. If you intend to matriculate at a school where it is not legal, expect them to expect you to be clean.

Did you actually miss the point or were you just looking for an excuse to make a lame attempt at a snarky jab?
Sounds like it hit home.
 
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It's a state-mandated law. Federally, marijuana is illegal. If you intend to matriculate at a school where it is not legal, expect them to expect you to be clean.

Sounds like it hit home.
Firstly, nice attempt at a joke, made me laugh. But yeah missing the point.

Second, yeah, if it was required by the school to have a clean test, then I guess the migraines would just have to be tolerated. Thanks guys.
 

Jabbed

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Some schools require drug testing before matriculation. Just make sure that you (and your friend) stick to Tylenol during the month leading up to your urine tests.

If they catch you with a baggie during your interview though, remember to tell them that its not yours and that you're just holding it for your friend. He gets headaches.
 
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But what happens if they give you a 5-panel and it comes back positive for marijuana? Some schools (like UTSW) do this and make matriculation contingent on a satisfactory outcome. I guess at that point you show your medical marijuana card and everything is fine?

I'm just saying I think it's a fair question.
Wouldn't preclude drug tests, though.
If you get drug tested just show your marijuana card. If it's legal in your state, nothing to worry about.

Although schools conducting drug tests prior to clinicals is news to me. Never heard of such a thing.
 

BlueLabel

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It's a state-mandated law. Federally, marijuana is illegal. If you intend to matriculate at a school where it is not legal, expect them to expect you to be clean.



Sounds like it hit home.
Lol. That's actually a good point, didn't think of that.
 

organdonor

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Would not affect admissions or need to be disclosed at all to anyone. Medical schools, or anyone else for that matter, have no business in your health issues. would probably refrain prior to/during interview day though ;)

I've not seen any medical students or residents ever drug tested and I'm in my last year. Not saying it doesn't happen but I've not seen it or heard of it.
 

NickNaylor

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Would not affect admissions or need to be disclosed at all to anyone. Medical schools, or anyone else for that matter, have no business in your health issues. would probably refrain prior to/during interview day though ;)

I've not seen any medical students or residents ever drug tested and I'm in my last year. Not saying it doesn't happen but I've not seen it or heard of it.
We were specifically told to expect drug testing at some point prior to residency for many/most programs, but interestingly enough our institution does not drug test residents on the regular, and I have no idea how true that advice actually is.
 

Doctor Strange

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Would not affect admissions or need to be disclosed at all to anyone. Medical schools, or anyone else for that matter, have no business in your health issues. would probably refrain prior to/during interview day though ;)

I've not seen any medical students or residents ever drug tested and I'm in my last year. Not saying it doesn't happen but I've not seen it or heard of it.
All students at my school must be drug tested for peds rotation.
 

organdonor

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All students at my school must be drug tested for peds rotation.
Just to be crystal clear here, so YOU were drug tested? I don't care about your results haha I just want to verify this isn't something the administration threatens but doesn't actually do.

In the end I think in medical school ignorance is bliss; does a school with a mission of graduating the highest possible proportion of its students really going to give someone the boot for some pot? I would argue the school has way too much invested in you.

The issue would be what to do with a positive test if they aren't going to kick you out. One of the important lessons of med school is do not order a test if the results have no impact!
 

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Nothing to explain. Getting a medical marijuana card is not detrimental to medical school admissions. There is no way for them to find out. Same for residency.
I don't know man, someone might get suspicious of the dude in the white coat made out of hemp carrying a giant bag of Doritos with him on rounds.
 

PreMedOrDead

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The issue would be what to do with a positive test if they aren't going to kick you out. One of the important lessons of med school is do not order a test if the results have no impact!
Realistically, they would probably slap you on the wrists and make you retake the drug test in a month under the threat of a suspension or expulsion. You'd have to be downright stupid to fail it twice and put the school and yourself under that second circumstance.
 

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Just to be crystal clear here, so YOU were drug tested? I don't care about your results haha I just want to verify this isn't something the administration threatens but doesn't actually do.

In the end I think in medical school ignorance is bliss; does a school with a mission of graduating the highest possible proportion of its students really going to give someone the boot for some pot? I would argue the school has way too much invested in you.

The issue would be what to do with a positive test if they aren't going to kick you out. One of the important lessons of med school is do not order a test if the results have no impact!
I haven't gotten to rotations yet, but I live with upper years and it is my understanding that everyone is mandated to undergo a urine test before going on their peds rotation. I don't know the rationale, but it is definitely something that is actually done and is not just a threat.
 

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If you get drug tested just show your marijuana card. If it's legal in your state, nothing to worry about.

Although schools conducting drug tests prior to clinicals is news to me. Never heard of such a thing.
It not that simple. Federally it's still illegal and to be a doctor and prescribe drugs you are going to need to be issued a card and Number by the DEA, a federal agency. You may also have opportunity to work at a VA or other federally funded institution, and need clearance by those institutions. And while only a few med schools drug test, most residencies do. It would be foolish to go down this road that isn't accepted federally. It's unclear how having such a card impacts clearance investigations even despite a negative drug test.

I have been tested several times on this road to becoming a doctor (by multiple institutions at which I have worked/rotated) and yes, you can lose your residency spot (due to your inability to prescribe narcotics) if you fail. The fact that you live in a state that allows marijuana for medicinal reasons isn't going to be much of a defense. Until it's federally accepted, you can't be a doctor on pot, sorry.

You have to make a variety of sacrifices along the way to becoming a doctor. Just look at this as one of the more minor ones.
 
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notbobtrustme

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Pass your piss test and no one will really give a **** what you do in your off time.
 

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Pass your piss test and no one will really give a **** what you do in your off time.
Again, you still have to be investigated and cleared to get a DEA card, work at a VA, etc, so even just having such a card could bring an added level of scrutiny, even if you pass the test once.
 
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It not that simple. Federally it's still illegal and to be a doctor and prescribe drugs you are going to need to be issued a card and Number by the DEA, a federal agency. You may also have opportunity to work at a VA or other federally funded institution, and need clearance by those institutions. And while only a few med schools drug test, most residencies do. It would be foolish to go down this road that isn't accepted federally. It's unclear how having such a card impacts clearance investigations even despite a negative drug test.

I have been tested several times on this road to becoming a doctor (by multiple institutions at which I have worked/rotated) and yes, you can lose your residency spot (due to your inability to prescribe narcotics) if you fail. The fact that you live in a state that allows marijuana for medicinal reasons isn't going to be much of a defense. Until it's federally accepted, you can't be a doctor on pot, sorry.

You have to make a variety of sacrifices along the way to becoming a doctor. Just look at this as one of the more minor ones.
If you're talking about federal law, prescribing medical marijuana is also illegal. As you know, state laws supersede federal when it comes to medical marijuana use, unless tested by a federal agency. Highly doubt the DEA is going to ask for your piss.

And I highly doubt many of the gunners on SDN have aspirations of working at the VA.
 
Jul 14, 2012
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The majority of residency programs have VA rotations...
I hope you're trying to insinuate that each rotation site drug tests 3rd and 4th years so I can laugh at the stretch being made here.

Taking medicine prescribed by your doctor will not hinder your employment. Just like if your drug screen comes up for amphetamines, just show your adderall prescription.
 
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SouthernSurgeon

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I hope you're trying to insinuate that each rotation site drug tests 3rd and 4th years so I can laugh at the stretch being made here.
No, I'm trying to insinuate that to work at a VA - even as a resident - and prescribe narcotics, you have to go through the VA background check process and can be subjected to drug testing requirements. And that the majority of residents rotate at VA hospitals.
 
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I'm new here,just have a text.
I think that it would be foolish to go down this road that isn't accepted federally. It's unclear how having such a card impacts clearance investigations even despite a negative drug test.
 
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No, I'm trying to insinuate that to work at a VA - even as a resident - and prescribe narcotics, you have to go through the VA background check process and can be subjected to drug testing requirements. And that the majority of residents rotate at VA hospitals.
Well from a law perspective, work environments can choose to not hire someone because of a positive drug test, even if they're prescribed medical marijuana. But from a realistic perspective, do you really think a hospital would disallow a resident from practicing if he/she has proof of the prescription?

I personally don't believe any business would not allow a doctor to provide extremely expensive medical care (to someone who cannot afford it) for an extremely reduced price (resident salary) because of some medical ganja. But I could be wrong.
 

SouthernSurgeon

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I personally don't believe any business would not allow a doctor to provide extremely expensive medical care (to someone who cannot afford it) for an extremely reduced price (resident salary) because of some medical ganja. But I could be wrong.
Well I guess that the whole problem here is that all you've based your posts on is your belief. First you stated that you have never heard of a medical school drug testing students - then multiple people provided counter examples of schools and residencies that do. Then you made a dismissive comment about SDN'ers being too good for the VA, despite the fact that the VA shoulders an enormous training burden in the US and many, many, many residents will work there.

Then you posted this...which is what it comes down to. You don't think someone would/should get in trouble for it.

I, and others, do - or at least think it might come up. It is worth the OP (or their..."friend"...) considering the ramifications - I have no personal experience with the issue, but I've been through enough hoops (drug tests, and background checks, and paperwork asking you to declare if you have any medical condition that might affect your ability to practice medicine) to see where it might become a problem. As such, I don't think blindly declaring that it's no one's business and couldn't possibly come up is the right advice.
 

mcloaf

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I personally don't believe...But I could be wrong.
So you're arguing with residents who actually have experience with this why exactly?
 
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Well I guess that the whole problem here is that all you've based your posts on is your belief. First you stated that you have never heard of a medical school drug testing students - then multiple people provided counter examples of schools and residencies that do. Then you made a dismissive comment about SDN'ers being too good for the VA, despite the fact that the VA shoulders an enormous training burden in the US and many, many, many residents will work there.

Then you posted this...which is what it comes down to. You don't think someone would/should get in trouble for it.

I, and others, do - or at least think it might come up. It is worth the OP (or their..."friend"...) considering the ramifications - I have no personal experience with the issue, but I've been through enough hoops (drug tests, and background checks, and paperwork asking you to declare if you have any medical condition that might affect your ability to practice medicine) to see where it might become a problem. As such, I don't think blindly declaring that it's no one's business and couldn't possibly come up is the right advice.
I like how you attempt to dismiss what I render as my personal belief and then provide your own. We're really making leaps and bounds here, friend.
So you're arguing with residents who actually have experience with this why exactly?
I don't really see an argument, I just see myself speaking on the issue from my viewpoint and southern speaking on the issue from his viewpoint. We are individuals and there is no possible way to say that southern's experience will be that of OP's friend just because he has rotated at the VA (I've worked at the VA and was not drug tested as part of my employment). All we can do is provide what we belief will take place in order to assist OP in assisting his friend.
 

SouthernSurgeon

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I like how you attempt to dismiss what I render as my personal belief and then provide your own. We're really making leaps and bounds here, friend.
Because you've tried to present your personal beliefs as authoritative despite a limited experience. You posted the very first response on the thread:

1. No
2. No
2. No
And have stuck to this despite other people posting a contrasting experience.

It is my personal belief that this is poor advice, and naively limited. Therefore I am posting with my admittedly limited experience and saying the OP (I mean...the OP's "friend") should at least consider and investigate the ramifications for themselves.
 
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Because you've tried to present your personal beliefs as authoritative despite a limited experience. You posted the very first response on the thread:

And have stuck to this despite other people posting a contrasting experience.

It is my personal belief that this is poor advice, and naively limited. Therefore I am posting with my admittedly limited experience and saying the OP (I mean...the OP's "friend") should at least consider and investigate the ramifications for themselves.
Your perception of the presentation of my nouns and verbs as authoritative doesn't mean it was meant to be perceived as such. As I said before, I'm just giving my opinion (and even admitted that it could be wrong).
 
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lumbricoides

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As you know, state laws supersede federal when it comes to medical marijuana use, unless tested by a federal agency.
You should tell that to all the people who were jailed for growing/selling/using medical marijuana before Obama decided to stop pursuing it (an executive decision that can EASILY be reversed come the next administration).

State law supersedes federal my ars: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gonzales_v._Raich
 

SouthernSurgeon

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Your perception of the presentation of my nouns and verbs as authoritative doesn't mean it was meant to be perceived as such. As I said before, I'm just giving my opinion (and even admitted that it could be wrong).
I'm not sure how the OP was supposed to figure out these posts were like, just your opinion, man:

1. No
2. No
2. No
Nothing to explain. Getting a medical marijuana card is not detrimental to medical school admissions. There is no way for them to find out. Same for residency.
 
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You should tell that to all the people who were jailed for growing/selling/using medical marijuana before Obama decided to stop pursuing it (an executive decision that can EASILY be reversed come the next administration).

State law supersedes federal my ars: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gonzales_v._Raich
Eh yeah but you have to be cultivating major product to even get feds involved. Federal laws typically let states govern themselves, otherwise DEA would have to arrest the entire state of Colorado.
I'm not sure how the OP was supposed to figure out these posts were like, just your opinion, man:
OP could just keep reading and reach the posts where I state that it's just like you know my opinion bro
 
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All students at my school must be drug tested for peds rotation.
I have no experience from the student/resident perspective, but I work at a pediatric hospital. I don't even work with patients (just in research), and I was drug tested when I started. I would imagine they follow the same routine for students/residents/etc.
 

Darth Doc

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If the VA does happen to do a drug test and there's marijuana in your system, it won't matter whether or not you have a medical marijuana card in a legal state. The VA is a federal facility, and as such does not follow state laws for this type of thing. You will not continue working there if there is pot in your system. I don't think it's worth the risk.

As far as DEA licenses, I don't remember getting any type of a background check. It was all what I reported about myself. They may have done some type of online scanning for criminal records, but it wasn't anything extensive. Pot use won't be an issue with getting the license. Unless you check the box that says, "yes, i use illegal drugs".
 

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It always baffles me that so many people who post on SDN know literally everything about their "friends." It's an anonymous forum.
 

organdonor

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Just wanted to say again, I'm a 4th year student, spent months in both the VA and a pediatric hospital, public, private, everything in between, in a very conservative state were there is no legal marihuana, and I've never been drug tested.
 

PreMedOrDead

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Again, you still have to be investigated and cleared to get a DEA card, work at a VA, etc, so even just having such a card could bring an added level of scrutiny, even if you pass the test once.
These end up in what we like to call "random drug tests."

I have no experience from the student/resident perspective, but I work at a pediatric hospital. I don't even work with patients (just in research), and I was drug tested when I started. I would imagine they follow the same routine for students/residents/etc.
Every hospital I have ever worked at has drug tested me.

It always baffles me that so many people who post on SDN know literally everything about their "friends." It's an anonymous forum.
Anonymity is relative. Every time you log in your IP address is recorded. Unless you're behind a proxy, it's pretty easy to get relative (and sometimes specific) locations of users.