California Medical Marijuana Patient Information

What Conditions Can Medical Marijuana Be Used for in California?

By California State Law, medical marijuana can be legally used as the primary or adjuvant therapy in certain chronic and terminal conditions. Following a state-licensed doctor's recommendation, qualified patients and their caregivers can purchase and consume CBD and THC infused products without violating state laws. Pursuant to the Proposition 215 - otherwise known as the Compassionate Use Act, California patients living with the conditions listed below are allowed to consume cannabis within medical limits.

  • Cancer
  • Anorexia
  • AIDS
  • Chronic Pain
  • Spasticity
  • Glaucoma
  • Arthritis
  • Migraine
  • Other illnesses for which cannabis provides relief

What Does an MMJ Card Permit in California?

Although recreational marijuana is legal in California, residents who consume cannabis but are not getting it with a valid medical marijuana card miss out on a variety of benefits. A California MMJ card permits cardholders the following advantages.

Pay Lower Costs

One of the realities of being a medical marijuana patient is the cost of keeping up with your recommended drugs and medications. Having a registered MMJ card helps you cut down certain miscellaneous fees such as tax fees. Typically, there are three types of taxes on marijuana payable to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration. They include sales tax, excise tax, and local tax. While non-cardholders must pay all types of taxes, those with registered MMJ cards are exempt from paying the 15% excise tax and the per ounce-based local tax.

Possess, Purchase, and Grow Larger Quantities of Marijuana

By law, a medical marijuana patient with a valid MMJ card in California can possess up to 8 ounces of dried marijuana as against 1 ounce legally available to recreational consumers. Infact, MMJ cardholders with a doctor's recommendation can possess as much cannabis as their medical condition reasonably requires. This also means that a medical marijuana card allows you to purchase more cannabis from the dispensary than someone who is buying for recreational use.

For the most part, the California Medical and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) does not affect medical marijuana patients in the state provided they grow cannabis for medical use only and limit their cultivating area to 100 square feet.

Reduced Age Restrictions

While the age limit for recreational cannabis in California is 21 years, patients who are at least 18 years with doctor's recommendations can obtain and use medical cannabis. Under Proposition 64, minor patients can only use medical cannabis under the strict supervision of an adult legal guardian or caregiver.

Unrestricted Access to Medical-Only Marijuana Dispensaries

Even though recreational marijuana use is legal in California, there are medical dispensaries that are exclusively available to only those with MMJ cards. If you have one, you can also access assistance from medical doctors and cannabis coaches. This expert help is especially beneficial when you develop tolerance to a cannabis-infused drug and need to change to a more potent drug depending on the medical condition you have.

Unrestricted Access to Stronger Potency Drugs

California allows patients with MMJ cards unrestricted access to more potent cannabis. For instance, medical marijuana dispensaries in the state can sell lotions containing up to 2000mg of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or 7500mg in 30mls of Cannabidiol (CBD). If you are suffering from a list of medical conditions such as chronic pain or cancer, you can get your recommended drug in varying degrees of potency depending on the severity of your symptoms.

Quality Legal Protection

Pursuant to California's Proposition 215, MMJ card-holding patients and caregivers who possess or grow marijuana for medicinal purposes are exempt from criminal prosecution. However, it is important to note that this only applies to properties within the state's jurisdiction. Federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, which is illegal no matter the use. This means that you may be charged with a misdemeanor or, in some cases, a felony for violating the federal drug laws.

The above list is by no means exhaustive. While the benefits of having an MMJ card are numerous, it is worthy to note that only qualified patients with specific medical conditions can obtain a medical marijuana card in California.

How Long is a California Medical Marijuana Card Valid?

In California, a medical marijuana card is valid for one year. During this period, your MMJ card is valid in all California counties as well as states with medical cannabis reciprocity.

The answer to the question of whether or not you will need to renew your California medical marijuana card after the one-year validity period elapses is yes. If an MMJ card is not renewed, the legal protection provided by the California Compassionate Use Act will expire, and the cardholder will no longer be eligible to purchase medical marijuana from dispensaries.

Does California have Medical Marijuana Reciprocity?

No, the State of California does not offer a dedicated medical marijuana reciprocity program. This means that tourists and visitors cannot possess or purchase medical cannabis in the state with their out-of-state MMJ cards. Even then, California is a marijuana-friendly state where adults older than 21 years old are legally allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana flower or 5 grams of concentrates.

In addition, out-of-state medical cannabis patients have the option of applying for a California MMJ card when they arrive. However, the process takes about 30 days, and this option may only be useful to persons who want to spend a relatively long time in California.

Is an MMIC Valid Outside of California?

The simple answer to this question is yes. A medical marijuana identification card issued in California is valid in states that offer medical marijuana reciprocity programs. Using your California MMIC, you can purchase and possess designated quantities of cannabis without criminal liability in such states. It is important to note that not all medical marijuana-compliant states offer reciprocity. Infact, while California is a golden state for marijuana use, it does not recognize medical cannabis cards issued in other pot-friendly states. The states that currently practice medical marijuana reciprocity include:

Is an MMIC Valid in Other California Counties?

Yes, a medical marijuana card issued in any California County can be used to legally purchase cannabis from any medical dispensary anywhere in the state. The MMICP maintains a central searchable verification database where dispensaries, law enforcement, and the public can confirm the validity of medical cannabis cards issued within the state.

Does California Accept Medical Marijuana Cards issued by another State?

The straightforward answer to this question is no. California does not accept medical marijuana cards issued by other states in the US. As such, non-resident medical marijuana patients can't purchase cannabis using the medical cannabis cards gotten from their home states. However, because California allows recreational cannabis, this may not constitute a big problem for adult out-of-state medical marijuana users. According to Proposition 64 - Adult Use of Marijuana Act, persons older than 21 years are legally permitted to purchase and possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana plant material and about 8 grams of concentrated cannabis. Note that recreational marijuana is usually more costly, and certain quality marijuana-infused products may be limited to only persons with the state medical marijuana card. Interested visitors can apply for a California MMIC, which will be made available within 30-35 days.

On a related note, it is illegal to cross California state lines with cannabis from your home state.

Does a California MMIC Protect Me Under Federal Law?

No, the US federal law criminalizes the use of marijuana for any purpose. Even with your California MMIC, you may still be charged and prosecuted under the federal drug laws. The difference between California and federal laws can lead to difficulties in knowing where and how the different laws apply. What this could mean to you include:

  1. Federal jobs: If you are already an employee or hope to apply for a federal job in California, your employment may be terminated or denied if you test positive for marijuana
  2. Student financial aid: Even as an MMIC cardholder, you could lose out on federally-enabled financial aid opportunities such as Pell Grant, Perkins Loans, PLUS Loans, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, and Work-Study programs.
  3. Firearms: Before purchasing a firearm, applicants are required to complete Federal Form 4473, which asks about unlawful marijuana use. Since cannabis is still illegal in the federal eyes, medical cannabis users may be rejected from getting a firearm.
  4. Housing: Your California MMIC does not protect you from marijuana use or possession charges if you live in federally subsidized housing. Such charges may also lead to the loss of your federal housing benefits.
  5. Federal land: The use of marijuana on federal lands or federally funded properties is illegal in California. Such lands include:
  • National Parks
  • Public airports
  • Federal courthouses
  • Post offices
  • Federal buildings
  • Military bases
  • Ski slopes
  • Places that receive a reasonable amount of federal funds

Generally, possessing or using marijuana in public places is a misdemeanor for first offenders punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and a maximum of one year in federal prison.

California Marijuana Patient Information