Should you get a medical marijuana recommendation in California anymore?
As of January 1, 2018, California residents aged 21 and older can legally purchase cannabis via licensed retail outlets and delivery services. Prior to the first of the year, these residents were required to present a medical recommendation written by a California-licensed physician in order to make a purchase.
Now that marijuana is legal in CA, should you get a medical marijuana recommendation?
At this point, a medical marijuana recommendation is mostly just a requirement for obtaining a County issued Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC or medical card).
For now, some dispensaries are offering a discount, as well as allowing holders of Medical Marijuana Recommendations to purchase more potent products. In San Diego, some dispensaries waive the 5% San Diego Cannabis Business tax. Others offer a 10% discount.
So, should you get a Medical Marijuana Identification Card from your County public health department?
California residents younger than 21 years of age will need a medical card. That's easy. It's not as clear if you are over 21 years of age however. To be sure, there are some advantages. For example, individuals who possess a medical card have less restrictive limitations on the amount of cannabis they can purchase and possess, as well as the number of plants they can legally cultivate. They are also exempt from paying state sales tax of 7.25% on every purchase.
Starting with the economics, a recommendation from HelloMD, a popular service that offers recommendations via Web-based videoconference, costs $59. A County issued medical card will cost up to $100, depending on the county, or $50 if you are on MediCal. That's $159 all in, assuming you are not on MediCal.
How much cannabis would you need to purchase in a year* to justify spending $159 so that you can save 7.75% on each purchase?
* Recommendations have a 1 year expiration
$159.00 / 7.75% = $2,050 (approx.) / 12 months = $170 (approx.) per month
You would need to spend over $170 per month in order to break even.
There are other reasons to consider.
PURCHASE AND POSSESSION LIMITS
Without a medical card, individuals 21 years of age and older are legally allowed to purchase (in a single day) and posses up to 1 ounce (28.5 grams) of flower and 8 grams of concentrate. With a card, they are able to purchase up to 8 ounces of flower in a single day.
Without a medical card, individuals 21 years of age and older are legally allowed to cultivate up to 6 plants. With a card, they are able to legally cultivate as much cannabis as is medically needed for their given conditions, under Prop. 215.
It would be prudent to check the law in your local jurisdiction (e.g. City, County, etc.), however, because patients can be arrested if they exceed reasonable amounts. They can also be cited or fined for exceeding local law limitations, which may supersede the laws of the State.
PRODUCT SELECTION AND POTENCY
A medical card will allow you to purchase more potent products (i.e. Products that contain more THC).
Without a medical card, individuals can purchase edibles containing up to 100mg of THC per product, split into 10mg servings. With a medical card, individuals can purchase edibles containing up to 1000mg of THC per product. This disparity expires on July 1st however. After July 1st, all edibles, medical and recreational, will be capped at 100 mg of THC per product.
Topicals, Tinctures and Concentrates
Without a medical card, individuals can purchase topicals, tinctures and concentrates containing up to 1,000mg of THC. With a medical card, individuals can purchase products containing up to 2,000mg of THC.
Obtaining a Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) from your County
Here's what you need:
Proof of identity – A driver’s license, State ID card, or Passport
Proof of residency within your applying county – Driver’s license/ State ID card
Medical marijuana recommendation
Completed application with application fee
You can find information on your County's Medical Marijuana Identification Card program here.
Note, you should review your County's application instructions. Some counties require you to schedule an appointment in order to submit your application.
The California Department of Public Health has a helpful Frequently Asked Questions page here.