Recreational marijuana dispensaries are finally open for business! But many Cannafornians may still be wondering do I still need a California Medical Card?
If you are over 21 years old, you do not need to have a Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) to purchase recreational weed nor one to enter recreational marijuana dispensaries.
But Wait for it…
There are some serious benefits of having a medical card!
Having a medical marijuana card can give you more legal protection, less taxes on weed, and other pleasurable perks. In other words, we “high-ly” recommend obtaining a California Cannabis Card.
If that’s all the convincing you need then go to the end of this article to find out how to easily get a California medical card today!
In this article, learn just how beneficial a medical card can be! So be sure to buckle up for these bountiful benefits of having a medical marijuana card! James Shih, our TWI attorney (and company voice of reason) has translated the laws so we know just how beneficial having a card can be!
Medical and Recreational Marijuana Law Lesson – Know Your Rights!
According to the California Health and Safety Code Section 11362.1(a) (1) anyone over 21 with a valid license or identification card may purchase recreational marijuana at a dispensary. We came up with the acronym “PPPTOG” to help you remember everything you can do with recreational marijuana in California.
- Possess – this means you can have marijuana for recreational (personal) use
- Process – you can make butter, hash, whatever you see on Pinterest with your recreational cannabis
- Purchase – you can purchase it from a licensed and fully compliant dispensary
- Transport – this means you can travel with your recreational weed in California
- Obtain – meaning you didn’t pay for it
- Give away – you can give away up to an ounce to people 21 and over
If you are under 21 years of age a medical card is necessary to buy medical (keyword here) marijuana under SB 420. Interesting fact – it is possible for those under 18 years of age to obtain a medical marijuana card but mommy and daddy have to say yes first.
Just to be clear, we are in no way advocating minors to use marijuana for recreational purposes. We understand the potential therapeutic benefits cannabis can have and are here to inform you of your rights.
Benefits of a California Medical Card
1. More Legal Protection with a Medical Marijuana Card
Regardless of recreational marijuana being legal in California, it’s still listed as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance in the United States. Which means you can be charged with a federal crime for simply possessing cannabis.
However, the best way to protect yourself from obtaining a federal offense for possession is to have a handy dandy medical card!
Why is that?
Due to the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, federal funding cannot go towards intervening with state medical marijuana.
This means that having a medical marijuana card could be the difference between getting a slap on the wrist with a warning or a federal offense accompanied by a notable fine. By no means will you be exempt from federal marijuana laws, but we all make mistakes! And it’s better to be prepared than to be slapped in the face with a federal gavel.
2. Allowed to Possess more cannabis and Plants
In order to reduce uncertainty and avoid unnecessary arrests, SB 420 established “limits” or guidelines as to how much marijuana patients (and their caregivers) could grow and possess. By these guidelines a medical marijuana patient (and their caregiver) are allowed to have 8 ounces of dried marijuana, 6 mature plants, and 12 immature plants. Don’t have a card? All you get is one ounce and can only grow 6 plants (this includes immature plants like clones).
By state law this is the minimum; individual counties and cities are allowed to set higher, but not lower limits; however the courts have now ruled that cities and counties may outlaw cultivation altogether.
Also, individual patients may be able to legally exceed the guidelines if they have a doctor’s note saying they need more. In practice, police routinely ignore this exception and there has been much backlash over doctors issuing so-called “cultivation certificates” for up to 99 plants.
Don’t forget the caregivers!
And what is a primary caregiver exactly? According to Prop 215, it is a non-medical marijuana card holder whom is designated by an individual with a medical card and “has consistently assumed responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of that person.”
3. Less Expensive cannabis
The bill that passed making recreational marijuana legal in California came with some hefty taxes – up to 45%! No, we aren’t making this up. But what did you expect?
Nothing is certain but death and taxes! There is a 15% cannabis excise, then the cultivation tax, state sales taxes, and then finally local sales taxes.
Medical Cannabis purchased from a medical dispensary by a medical marijuana card holder is considered ‘medicine’, obviously. Fortunately, the State still cares for its ailing Cannafornians and you’ll save a hefty minimum of 7.25-10% on each purchase.
Still not sure if a medical card is worth it? Let math do the answering- If you are spending $300 per month on cannabis and/or cannabis products you will save between $260-$360 per year (minus the cost of the medical card). Net saving = $160-$310 (depending on cost of recommendation)
4. Medical and Recreational Marijuana Regulations Are Different
So what is it about cannabis that is so popular? Simple – THC and CBD. THC is commonly associated with the of feeling being ‘high’, while CBD is associated with a calming effect and its therapeutic potential.
Both compounds are always present but the ratio of THC:CBD vary among different strains. Usually medical marijuana will have higher CBD content and recreational marijuana with higher THC content. As for edibles, medical will normally supply more potent marijuana edibles because the law dictates that recreational edibles can only contain a certain amount of THC.
Warning to Immigrant – Marijuana Possession may Affect Immigration Status
Immigration is ruled by federal law and marijuana it is not federally legal. Regardless of legality when marijuana use occurred, admitting to marijuana use to a federal official can negatively impact a non-citizen’s ability to get a green card, U.S. citizenship, or even travel outside the United States.
Beware – immigration officers are asking about marijuana use, especially in legal marijuana states. You could even be banned from the U.S. for life! Don’t believe us? Consult an immigration lawyer (reminder, they charge for this kind of thing)!
- Don’t use or possess marijuana or related paraphernalia until you are a citizen
- Don’t work in a marijuana dispensary
- Don’t get a medical marijuana card
- Don’t wear cannabis accessories (What those be? Check our recreational cannabis laws for a full definition)
- Don’t have any traceable affiliation with marijuana (photos, texts, Facebook, etc)
- Always consult a lawyer, before any federal official, in regards to marijuana use. In a pinch, utilize your rights to the 5th Amendment.
How do I Get a Medical Marijuana Identification Card Recommendation?
What do I need for California Medical Card?
- Government Identification – This should be a no-brainer
- Proof of residence – In the US medical cannabis is legal in 23 states and Washington D.C.
- Eligible condition – Those mentioned in Proposition 215 which range from terminal illnesses to nausea.
- Doctor Recommendation -Medical marijuana recommendations can be given by a Medical Doctor, Osteopathic Physician, Naturopathic Physician, and Psychiatrists that are licensed and in good standing
- Finances – Between $50 to $100. This is the average cost of a recommendation, which typically lasts a year. Renewals are often a little cheaper.
Where do I get a Doctor Recommendation?
Through local doctor
Every day more doctors are becoming open to using and recommending medical marijuana. If your primary care physician doesn’t do marijuana recommendations we’re pretty sure you can find one in your city if you search hard enough.
To lazy to get off your couch? We feel you… Online recommendations through a video meeting is all the rage at TWI.
We even had Jae obtain hers online to see how easy it was! She uploaded her ID, answered a general medical questionnaire, and stated her medical condition. After about twenty minutes, she was on a video call with a doctor and received her medical recommendation that day! So we know first hand how easy it is. You have no excuses.
Cannabis for Thought
Until July 2018, Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCSRA) allows California cannabis businesses to do business with each other, regardless of whether they are medical or adult use only licensed. Medical marijuana and recreational marijuana have different testing and standards so you can be sure the government is going to figure out a way to separate them.
This affects you because some of the recreational marijuana purchased may be from a medical grower that complies with medical marijuana standards, and vice versa.
Also, MAUCSRA allows dispensaries to obtain both a medical and recreational license. In 2018, you should start seeing both a “medical” price listing and a “recreational” price listing. Of course this will be the case in law-abiding cannabis businesses. The monetary benefits of getting a medical card will be very clearly showcased with these prices.
As for the future…
We aren’t sure when or how California will change its laws on the process of getting a medical cannabis card so it might be a good idea to get one now while you still can!
TWI Compliance Partners
We are all about facilitating getting high legally and helping businesses become legal. Knowing that we haven’t steered you wrong yet or ever plan to be sure to check with some of our partners who are going through the crucible of becoming legal in California.
Since we are run as a legal site and this is America where people sue over coffee being ‘too hot’, we have to put a disclaimer. So here it is:
TWI makes no representation as to the quality, service, reliability, or compassion of any of the coops, dispensaries, delivery services or patients’ groups, distributors, micro businesses, etc. listed. as to the quality, service, reliability, or compassion of any of the coops, dispensaries, delivery services or patients’ groups listed. Etc etc.
Conclusion – Should I get a Cannabis Medical Card?
In our opinion, it’s a very smart move for anyone who is a weed initiate to get a medical card. Even though a 21+ person may purchase marijuana in California without a card, we believe the $50-$100 and 20-60 min spent a year is well worth it because being a California cannabis card holder will provide more legal protection! Not to mention allow a larger quantity to posses and save you money on sales tax. So unless you’re an immigrant, we’d suggest you get a medical marijuana card today, before it’s too late!
As always, toke and grow safely!
Featured image credit – http://cdn1.buydutchseeds .com/media/wysiwyg/nevashhh/The_Procedure_for_Getting_a_Medical_Marijuana_Card_in_California_1.PNG