I needn't have worried. Soon enough, I found Price-Less Evaluations, "the most trusted medical marijuana evaluation center in San Francisco," whose site features a photo of a model in a lab coat and a coupon for a "420 special" (good for a $20 discount on April 20, 2011). Many California pot doctors will ask patients to bring in medical records that prove that their problems are legit (though they don't always check them). But the woman who answered the Price-Less 24-hour info line assured me that despite my lack of documentation, "the doctor can just evaluate you, and he'll decide whether you qualify or not."
The receptionist led me back into a hallway, where I saw a stooped, white-haired man in a rumpled pullover—the doctor. "Come on in," he mumbled. I stepped into an office and sat down at the edge of his desk. "So, can cannabis help you in some ways?" he asked, pen poised over a recommendation form. "I think so, yeah," I replied, trying to sound confident.
"So how does it help you?" he asked as the ink dried. "Well," I offered, "I have periodic pain from typing a lot, and in my lower back, and it could help me with that." He smiled. "Good. It's signed right there." The entire conversation had taken less than 90 seconds.