With over half of U.S. states legalizing medical marijuana (29 at last count), the drug is starting to be accepted as something more than simply an outlier treatment; it is a genuine, progressive form of therapy with tangible results. Although MMJ faced (and still faces, in some states) stiff opposition from conservative politicians, the wave of advocacy has been equally strong, leading to a steady increase in legalization over the years. The first state to adopt MMJ in legislation was California; it was also one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, which became legal on the 1st of January this year. Many patients are asking the question: if recreational marijuana is legal, do I still need to avail of the state’s MMJ program and own a California medical marijuana card?
This might seem like a conundrum for many patients; if they can just go up and buy marijuana legally from a local dispensary, then why bother with a doctor’s visit, a prescription, and a medical marijuana card? This is logical thinking, but the situation is a little more complex than it first appears. Marijuana, both recreational and medical, is a relatively new industry, and there are many different aspects to it. However, on balance, the answer is a resounding yes. Even in the face of legalized recreational marijuana, a California medical marijuana card is still a great idea; and here are five benefits of having one!
1. You Don’t Pay Sales Tax
Possibly the biggest incentive of a California medical marijuana card is that you can avoid paying sales tax on MMJ. This generous measure was introduced by the government as a way to reaffirm their commitment to their long-standing medical marijuana program, and to keep it running happily side-by-side with the newly introduced recreational rollout. We all know that health care can be an expensive venture, particularly if a patient suffers from a chronic condition. This sales tax rebate helps patients save money on every purchase, but only if they have a valid California medical marijuana card.
2. California’s Been Doing It The Longest
As mentioned above, California was the first state in the U.S. to legalize medical marijuana, and pave the way for the state of the countrywide legislation as it exists and develops today. The Golden State legalized the drug under Proposition 215 in 1996 – this ruling was also known as the Compassionate Use Act. As California’s had over 20 years in the MMJ business, all of the teething problems have been ironed out, and the operation runs smoothly and effectively. Indeed, California is considered one of the very best states in the U.S. to avail of medical marijuana; while the recreational rollout will inevitably come with its own set of problems and issues, the MMJ program will continue functioning as normal.
3. There’s a Long List of Qualifying Conditions
California is known to be one of the most liberal states when it comes to a list of qualifying conditions that patients must suffer from to utilize medical marijuana. While the qualifying conditions cover a host of serious illnesses like cancer, Parkinson’s, ALS, arthritis, and AIDS, one of the most important entries on the list is “chronic pain”. It is well known and researched that marijuana can ease general symptoms of pain, and chronic pain is a condition many suffer from at some point in time. The inclusion of this symptom on the list allows doctors to prescribe MMJ to patients who can’t pinpoint their pain to a specific location. This is in stark contrast to some states, who don’t include chronic pain on their list of qualifying conditions, thereby limiting the treatment options for potential patients.
4. There Are Plenty of Vendors To Choose From
The MMJ program is so well-established in California that wherever you live, you won’t have to look very far to find your nearest vendor. New York came under fire recently for severely limiting the dispensaries in the state to under 20, which could potentially put pressure on the whole infrastructure of the industry. There are no such restrictions on Californian dispensaries. Not just any one can go about setting one up, of course; there’s still a hefty amount of procedure and licences to go through and obtain. However, you’re bound to find a dispensary closely to you when you live in California.
5. You’ll Have Access To Many Different MMJ Strains
As previously mentioned, it’s unknown at this early stage what kind of teething problems the widespread legalization of recreational marijuana will come with. There are bound to be some, however; taking an established black market industry and dragging it in to the light in one fell swoop is certain to come with some issues. You might think that you won’t need a California medical marijuana card once recreational marijuana is legalized, but without the card, you’re unable to follow your doctor’s specific advice. He or she will know which strain is the correct one to treat your condition, and chances are that strain won’t even be available in the recreational arena, at least not in the early days. Individual strains affect people and conditions differently; if you’re taking marijuana medically, it’s surely sensible to stick to your doctor’s advice and take the most beneficial strain for you.