If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware that you need a medical marijuana card before you can legally light up, at least in California. But do you know how to get a medical cannabis card? Do you even know why you need one? You’ve heard your friends talk about how great it is, but somehow the process to get one yourself still seems confusing and difficult, maybe even sketchy. And depending on who you talk to, it can be any or all of those things, but it sure doesn’t have to be.
With the right guidance and information, you can be the proud owner of a medical marijuana card sooner than you think and with much less difficulty than you’d ever imagine. In this post, we’ll explore how to get a medical card and become a legal consumer of cannabis in California.
Is It A Marijuana Card Or A Marijuana Recommendation?
Ever since California legalized access to medical marijuana through Prop 215 in 1996, doctors have granted patients access to the plant’s healing properties by writing “recommendations” for its use. It’s called that because doctors aren’t legally allowed to “prescribe” marijuana as long as it’s illegal under federal law.
But regardless if you call it a medical marijuana card, weed card, license, prescription, MMID or doctor’s recommendation, what you’re really getting is a doctor’s consent and advice to use cannabis as a treatment for your condition or ailment.
In California, marijuana dispensaries are required to accept that recommendation only in written letter format. That’s a full 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper complete with your name, date, patient ID #, expiration date (you must renew your medical marijuana card each year), a doctor’s signature, embossed seal and a way to certify its authenticity either online or by phone. After registering with a dispensary for the first time, most will accept a digital or smaller ID card version of your recommendation until it expires and you need a renewal.
Three Ways (One Super Easy) To Get A MMJ Recommendation In California
If you think medical marijuana has a chance to improve your quality of life, you should be able to access it. You can try asking your primary physician if cannabis is right for you and to write you a recommendation, but most people opt for an evaluation with a cannabis specialist, or “medical marijuana doctor” to get their recommendation.
These 420 doctors can be found in cities from Sacramento to San Diego and everywhere in between, but it’s not always a pleasant experience to visit one. In fact, more often than not, these evaluation centers are stuck in hard-to-reach places in sketchy neighborhoods (especially watch out if you’re in Los Angeles), have long wait times and often end up overcharging you while leaving you uninformed about how to start using cannabis as an effective treatment option.
Thankfully, Californians enjoy the easiest way to consult with a medical marijuana doctor and get approved for medicinal cannabis—online. It’s safe and easy, and legal, according to the state’s telehealth laws.
How An Online Medical Marijuana Evaluation Works
If you choose the route most patients recommend nowadays by getting your medical marijuana card online, what can you expect from the process?
First, realize that you can complete your medical marijuana evaluation from any device that has internet access. You’ll be asked to fill out a standard medical form similar to any you’d find at a regular doctor’s office, and you’re able to upload any medical documents you may already have. But don’t worry, your information is kept totally private in accordance with HIPAA law and won’t be found on any public record or database.
Before your evaluation starts, you’ll choose between purchasing just a doctor’s recommendation letter (which is legally all you need), or a wallet-sized cannabis ID card as well, which is convenient for repeat visits to the same dispensary. Keep in mind, most online evaluation services won’t charge you unless you’re approved by the doctor; the consultation is free otherwise!
The MMJ evaluation itself often lasts just a few minutes and involves an easy video or phone conversation about your current condition, medical history and how marijuana might help you.
Once you’re approved, you’ll receive a digital PDF version of your recommendation via email, which you can use that same day by printing it out (keep in mind, some dispensaries firmly require the official paper copy). After that, you’ll receive your medical marijuana card and official recommendation letter in the mail 2 – 3 days later, which comes with an embossed seal and is signed by your doctor.
Once you have your medical cannabis card, you can safely enter marijuana dispensaries and make purchases.
Frequently Asked Questions About Getting A MMJ Card
Q: Will I need to renew my medical marijuana doctor’s recommendation?
A: Yes, you must get your recommendation renewed annually.
Q: What’s included in the list of medical marijuana card requirements?
A: Any form of U.S. identification and a condition for which medical cannabis can be recommended, that’s it!
Q: Can I apply without a California I.D.?
A: Typically, no, but there’s actually nothing in the California law that states you need to be a resident of California to qualify for medical marijuana here. So feel free to use any form of U.S. identification!
Q: Will my health insurance pay for my medical marijuana card?
A: Unfortunately no, since marijuana is still a Schedule I drug under federal law.
Q: What medical conditions qualify me for a doctor’s recommendation?
A: Doctor’s recommend medical marijuana most commonly for patients suffering from chronic pain, cancer, AIDS, anxiety disorders and a variety of other symptoms and conditions, but a recommendation can be made for “any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.”
Q: How much can I possess or grow with a medical marijuana card?
A: Currently Senate Bill 420 (SB420) states that a patient can grow up to six mature cannabis plants for personal consumption, but a recent CA Supreme Court ruling established that a patient can grow any number of plants so that their medical requirements are met.
Over 1.4 million patients in California have a doctor’s recommendation for using marijuana as medicine, and you can get one too, pretty easily.
Legally, you need a paper recommendation letter from a doctor, but people use different terms like “weed card” or “med card” to describe the same thing.
You can get a doctor’s recommendation by asking your primary physician, visiting a 420 doctor at an evaluation center or online through a service.
So what are you waiting for? Grab $ and 10 minutes of your life to go get legal!