California Medical Marijuana Card

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Is Medical Marijuana Legal In California?

Yes, medical marijuana is legal in California. Medicinal marijuana was legalized in California through Proposition 215, also called the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. Proposition 215 allowed Californians to obtain medical marijuana for the treatment of specific medical conditions. The state's medical marijuana program was established under SB 420, also called the Medical Marijuana Program Act. The California medical marijuana program is overseen by the state Department of Public Health (CDPH).

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in California

  • Obtain a Medical Marijuana Recommendation: You must first obtain a medical marijuana recommendation from a licensed physician in California. You can obtain this recommendation either through an in-person visit to a physician or via telemedicine
  • Prepare Application Documents: You will need to provide certain documentation along with your application, including a completed medical marijuana application form, medical marijuana certification, and proof of identity and residency
  • Schedule an In-Person Appointment with Your County Health Department: California requires medical marijuana card applicants to submit their applications in person at their county health department
  • Attend Your Appointment: At your appointment, your photo will be taken, and you will be required to pay an application fee. You will also submit your application at this appointment
  • Wait for Approval: Typically, it may take 4-5 weeks to receive your medical marijuana card

Qualifying Conditions for Medical Card in California

Medical marijuana in California is only available to residents of the state. Such residents, aged 18 or older, may legally purchase marijuana by themselves. However, Californians under the age of 18 who intend to use medical marijuana may do so through designated caregivers permitted to access medical marijuana on their behalf.

Residents who intend to use medical marijuana must also get medical cannabis recommendations from qualified physicians certifying that they suffer from one or more of the approved medical conditions. These conditions include:

  • Anorexia
  • AIDS
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic pain
  • Cachexia
  • Cancer
  • Migraine
  • Glaucoma
  • Persistent muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Severe nausea

A physician may also recommend medical marijuana to a resident diagnosed with chronic or persistent symptoms that substantially limit the individual's ability to perform major life activities. A doctor's recommendation may also be obtained for symptoms that may cause serious harm to a person's safety, mental health, or physical health.

Can I Apply For A Medical Marijuana Card In California Online?

Per California law, medical marijuana card applications must be made in person at the various county health medical marijuana identification card Programs. However, applicants can be evaluated via telemedicine when obtaining their medical marijuana recommendations.

How Do I Register With the California Medical Marijuana Card Program?

You can register with the California Medical Marijuana Card Program if you reside in the state, are aged 18 or older, and have a qualifying medical condition. Before submitting an application, you must obtain a written certification from a California physician confirming a qualifying medical condition and attesting that medical marijuana is appropriate to treat your condition. After, visit your county health website or physical address to obtain an application form and other application submission requirements. Submit a correct and complete application to the department, and if your application is approved, you will obtain your medical marijuana card in 4-6 weeks.

Do I Need To Be A California Resident To Get A Medical Marijuana Card?

The State of California does not allow medical marijuana reciprocity. Hence, only California residents are allowed to obtain medical marijuana cards under the state’s medical marijuana program.

What Is The Cost Of A California Medical Marijuana Card?

Applications for MMICs are completed at the county level in California. Therefore, the application fee varies per county. However, the State of California has set a cap of $100 for a medical marijuana identification card. Hence, no county may charge more than $100 for an MMIC. California's medical marijuana law permits Medi-Cal beneficiaries to obtain MMICs for reduced fees. A Medi-Cal beneficiary will receive a 50% reduction in application fee if proof of participation in the Medi-Cal program can be provided. The fee will be waived for indigent California patients who qualify for and participate in the County Medical Services Program.

The renewal fee for an MMIC is the same as the initial application fee. No county may charge more than $100 for an MMIC renewal.

What Do You Need When Visiting A Medical Marijuana Dispensary In California?

A valid physician's recommendation is required to purchase medical-grade marijuana in California. Although residents are not required to obtain a medical marijuana identification card to participate in the California marijuana program, presenting an MMIC at a medical marijuana dispensary will exempt them from paying sales and use tax on purchases.

Who Can Prescribe Medical Marijuana In California?

California requires medical marijuana identification card applicants to obtain recommendations from their physicians before completing MMIC (medical marijuana identification card) applications. The state's medical marijuana identification card program (MMICP) does not maintain a list of physicians qualified to issue medical marijuana recommendations. However, the attending physician must possess a license in good standing issued by the Osteopathic Medical Board or the Medical Board of California.

Can A Minor Get A Medical Marijuana Card In California?

Yes. California medical marijuana laws provide for residents under the age of 18 to obtain and use medical marijuana. Minors, like adult residents, must get medical marijuana recommendations from qualified physicians and designated caregivers who are at least aged 18 before applying for medical marijuana identification cards. Minors may apply for themselves if they are lawfully emancipated or have declared self-sufficiency status; however, additional documentation may be required during their applications.

Can You Get A Medical Marijuana Card At 18 In California?

Yes. Medical marijuana users in California can apply for medical marijuana cards when they turn 18 without the consent of their parents or guardians. California even allows minors (under the age of 18) to apply for medical marijuana cards in their own names if they are legally emancipated and self-sufficient.

How To Renew Your California Medical Marijuana Card

Pursuant to the rules of the state's Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program (MMICP), a medical marijuana identification card is valid for one year. The renewal process for an MMIC is the same as the process required to get the card and may be completed by visiting your county's department of public health.

You will be required to provide a medical recommendation from your attending physician when applying for a renewal. You will also be required to pay a renewal fee, which is usually the same as the initial cost of obtaining an MMIC. It is recommended that you submit a renewal application 45 - 60 days prior to the expiration of the MMIC. Note that regardless of the expiry date on a primary caregiver's MMIC, the caregiver's MMIC expires on the day the patient's MMIC expires.

Can You Grow Medical Marijuana In California?

A medical marijuana patient or approved caregiver in California can grow up to 6 mature or 12 immature plants at home per qualified patient. Per Section 11362.77 of the California Health and Safety Code (HSC), a registered patient or a primary caregiver with a physician's recommendation stating that the maximum allowable number of cannabis plants would not meet their medical requirements may grow as many marijuana plants as is consistent with their needs. Furthermore, Section 11362.77 of the HSC permits cities and counties to enact regulations allowing qualified patients and primary caregivers to exceed the state's growing limits.

California: Benefits Of Having A Medical Marijuana Card In A Recreational Marijuana-Legal State

A California medical marijuana card allows the cardholder to avoid paying sales and use tax on medical marijuana purchases and also helps law enforcement identify the cardholder as being able to possess certain amounts of medical cannabis under specific conditions legally. Under the California Adult Use of Marijuana Act, patients who present a valid MMIC are exempted from paying use and sales taxes when purchasing medical cannabis, medical cannabis concentrate, topical cannabis, or edible medical cannabis products.

Note that while the card allows patients to purchase higher marijuana quantities (up to 8 ounces of dried cannabis) than recreational marijuana users, patients without the card but with a valid physician's recommendation to use medical marijuana can still purchase the same amount as MMJ cardholders.

Does California Allow Medical Marijuana Patients To Designate Caregivers?

Yes. California provides for the use of caregivers by qualified medical marijuana patients in the state. A caregiver is an individual aged 18 or older who consistently assumes responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of a qualified medical marijuana patient. Caregivers are designated by eligible patients and not by the state. Besides being an adult, there are no special requirements for becoming a medical marijuana caregiver in California. Typically, a qualified patient can designate one caregiver. However, California permits an individual to be designated by multiple eligible patients as their primary caregiver. In such an instance, the caregiver and all the qualified patients must reside in the same county. Although caregivers can obtain MMICs, they cannot apply directly for the cards themselves. Instead, the patients associated with the caregivers are required to apply on behalf of the caregivers.

California Medical Marijuana Reciprocity

California does not allow patients from other states to purchase medical marijuana from its dispensaries. Only legal California residents may participate in its medical marijuana program.

Are My Medical Marijuana Records Private?

The California medical marijuana program uses protocols and procedures ensuring compliance with all applicable confidentiality regulations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Also according to Sections 26161.5 and 261612 of the California Business and Professions Code, information identifying the names and medical conditions of patients or the names of their primary caregivers received and maintained in records kept under the California medical marijuana program is confidential and may not be disclosed under the California Public Records Act. However, this provision does not preclude:

  • Notifying local or state agencies about information submitted to the agency that is suspected to be falsified or fraudulent
  • Verification of requests by local or state agencies to confirm certificates and licenses issued by the California Department of Public Health or other state agency
  • Provision of information required pursuant to a court-issued order or subpoena issued by a court or an administrative arm or local governing body authorized by law to issue subpoenas

Medical marijuana records will not be disclosed beyond what is required to achieve the goals of a specific investigation or the parameters of a specific court order or subpoena. Hence, law enforcement agencies may access medical marijuana records under specific conditions. California employers are not allowed to access medical marijuana records.

Note that the California medical marijuana application system contains no personally identifiable data, such as name, physical address, or social security number. The system only contains the unique user ID number, and when entered, the only information made available is whether the card is valid or not.

Does Insurance Cover Medical Marijuana In California?

Since marijuana is not federally legal and has not been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is not covered by insurance.

What Is The Medical Card Limit In California?

With a California medical marijuana card, a patient or primary caregiver can purchase up to 8 ounces of dried marijuana per qualified patient. Also, a patient or caregiver can have up to 6 mature or 12 immature marijuana plants.

Can You Go To A Dispensary Without A Medical Card In California?

Yes, you can go to a California dispensary to purchase cannabis with a valid government-issued ID proving you are 21 or older. If you want to buy medical cannabis, you may present a physician’s recommendation and a valid government ID at the dispensary. A medical marijuana card is only required when purchasing medical marijuana; even then, it is optional.

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