As California moves from a medical-only marijuana state to an adult-use market in 2018, many patients like yourself wonder what this means for you.
Do I still need to get a Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) and how? Are there any benefits to getting a MMIC after adult-use dispensaries are operational?
Here we’ll breakdown everything you need to know about getting your medical marijuana card in 2018.
The MMIC Program was created under Senate Bill 420 (SB 420). It allows medical marijuana patients and caregivers to voluntarily enroll in the state’s online medical marijuana patient registry. In return, you’ll receive an identification card and patient ID number.
A MMIC allows you to legally prove you’re a certified patient or caregiver, as law enforcement officers have access to the database to prove an MMIC’s validity. Overall, it allows California to have a statewide, official, and uniform identification system to protect patients.
While Proposition 64, which legalizes Adult Use cannabis in California, does have language regarding medical marijuana patients, it does not abolish the MMIC program.
Prop. 64 added new statutes to Section 5 of the Health and Safety Code, Use of Marijuana for Medical Purposes. The law made changes and clarifications regarding the MMIC program, including:
Currently, medical cannabis patients in California do not need an MMIC to purchase cannabis from a medical dispensary; all that’s needed is a valid doctor’s recommendation.
In 2018, this won’t change, except for the fact that medical marijuana patients will need a valid MMIC to avoid the retail sales tax on their medical cannabis purchases. So, the MMIC helps you save money, but you don’t need it to make medical purchases in general.
Having a cannabis recommendation and a MMIC affords several privileges that recreational users won’t have. These include:
1. No state sales and use taxes (Revenue and Tax Code 34011)–Prop 64 added language in section 34011 that keeps the state from taxing medical cannabis with the sales and use tax that recreational users have to pay. There will still be other taxes and local taxes, but many local governments won’t tax medical marijuana either.
2. Protection for parental rights (Health and Safety Code 11362.84)–People who use medical cannabis in accordance with Prop 215 can’t have their custody restricted based on this reason alone.
3. Protection from arrest if carrying more than one ounce (Health and Safety Code 11362.71(e))–People can still be arrested if the police believe that they are carrying more than their doctor would allow (like 30 lbs in their trunk) or they have other cause to believe they are violating the law. But they have to prove probable cause.
4. Larger possession limits (Health and Safety Code 11362.77(a))–Patients get to possess 8 ounces instead of just one ounce (28.5 grams).
5. Even larger possession limits if your doctor recommends (Health and Safety Code 11362.77(b))–It’s the law now that your doctor can recommend for you to possess even more.
6. Larger cultivation allowances in many jurisdictions–Local ordinances often make more allowances for medical cultivation than they do recreational. Also, in some places that don’t allow outdoor cultivation of recreational, they do allow outdoor medical cultivation.
7. Lower age limit for commercial medical purchases–If you are between 18 and 21, you’re still legally allowed to purchase commercial cannabis from a medical cannabis retailer or an adult cannabis retailer that also has a medical cannabis license.
8. Access to more dispensaries across the state–Many counties are only choosing to allow commercial medical sales, not adult-use sales.
So far, we’ve discussed what the MMIC program is and what the benefits are of having a California state-issued, medical cannabis identification card.
Now the burning question is, how do you get one?
To get a medical marijuana identification card from the California Department of Public Health, you must be a California resident and diagnosed with a serious medical condition by a physician. Serious qualifying conditions identified under SB 420 include, but are not limited to:
PRO Tip: Take note, there is persistent confusion around the language “any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.” While the CDPH states medical cannabis can be recommended for “any chronic or persistent medical symptom that either substantially limits a person’s ability to conduct one or more of major life activities,” an in-depth legal analysis indicates cannabis doctor recommendations are not bound by this language. While Senate Bill 420 (SB420) attempted to make stricter requirements for doctors issuing recommendations, Prop 215 is still the reigning legal king when it comes to interpretation. It even supersedes Prop 64 in this regard, given that Prop 64 states in its intents and purposes that it does not seek to challenge Prop 215. And since legislative intent trumps all when there is a dispute, and voter initiatives carry far more weight constitutionally than do senate and assembly bills, you can’t really define what medical conditions qualify for a medical card since Prop 215 was so intentionally vague. This is likely more than you need to know, but we believe in today’s day in age, it’s important that you get the full truth, and nothing but the truth.
The bottom line is that physicians in California are granted wide discretion to recommend cannabis as a treatment for any ailments they deem appropriate.
The physician must also agree that medical marijuana is an appropriate treatment option. Both the diagnosis and recommendation of medical cannabis as a treatment option must be documented in your medical records.
When you receive this medical recommendation from a physician, ask for a printed record for yourself. If you opt to get your recommendation online through NuggMD, you’ll receive a printed paper copy in the mail a few days after your consultation.
Once you receive a medical marijuana recommendation from a physician, you will need to fill out a Medical Marijuana Program Application/Renewal Form and submit it to the California county where you reside. You must include the following documentation with your application:
You must apply in-person at your county’s program. At your county’s program location (see the last section of this post to find your local department of health location), you will be required to pay a fee to receive your MMIC, which differs by circumstance of the patient and county. Medi-Cal beneficiaries will always receive a 50% deduction in the application fee and indigent patients who are eligible for County Medical Services will have the fee waived.
The final step is to take a photo for your Medical Marijuana Identfication card.
Once your application is submitted in-person, the county has 30 days to verify your application. If your application is verified, the county has five days to make your MMIC available to you.
Counties will either make MMICs available via mail or require the patient to come back into the county location to pick up their new identification card. This process varies from county to county, so while you’re applying at your local county office, we recommend asking about their pickup or mailing process if you’re approved
Please note that any missing information in your application can delay the process.
Now that you know the steps required to get your MMIC and the benefits of doing so, it’s time to pull the trigger, right?
Regardless where you live in California, you must submit your application in-person to your county’s Medical Marijuana Program. The tricky part though, is that business hours and appointment requirements differ by county.
Please locate your county of residence in the directory below for a link to the program location and information on how and when to apply.
California counties are listed below in alphabetical order.
Getting a medical marijuana identification card in 2018 saves money, provides legal protection, has a lower age requirement, makes more dispensaries available available to you, and allows you to possess and grow more cannabis. It’s a no-brainer.
Learn more about the new cannabis laws and regulations and stay up-to-date with these articles:
Still confused? Don’t get frustrated! Just visit Nugg’s website and click the green chat-icon in the bottom-right hand corner to speak with a live cannabis expert who can answer your questions in real-time.