Interested in saving money the next time you purchase your medical marijuana? As long as you have an MMJ card, you can skip that pesky California sales tax on MMJ and get your product for much cheaper costs. Here is the information you need to help you decide whether getting a medical marijuana card is worth it to you.
Here’s what you need to know
Starting January 1st, marijuana will be legalized in the state of California. Although there is some confusion about exactly how this new law will be implemented and how it will affect the marijuana business as a whole, there is one thing we know for certain: those with a medical marijuana card won’t have to pay retail sales tax on their purchases of medical cannabis, medical cannabis concentrate, edible medical cannabis products, and topical cannabis. As long as you can present your valid Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) from the California Department of Public Health, you’ll be able to avoid paying the California sales tax on MMJ. If you don’t have a cannabis card, you’ll pay the standard 15% tax on all of your cannabis products, which can definitely start draining your wallet.
If you’re one of the 1.5 million people in California with an MMJ card, you can buy, grow, and consume marijuana products legally. These products can be used to help fight symptoms of a huge variety of conditions, including anxiety, chronic pain, cancer, migraines, and seizures. Because there’s a stipulation that any condition that prevents you from performing your day-to-day activities qualifies, there are thousands of conditions that can be cited as why medical marijuana would work as a treatment option for you.
What your costs could be
It can be difficult to determine what your overall out-of-pocket expenses will be when you purchase your medical marijuana products. According to some websites, average cannabis prices in California are usually around $250 per ounce for high-quality marijuana or about $200 for mid-quality product. However, if you want to obtain a medical marijuana card to skip paying taxes, you could apply for a card for around $66 (or around $33 for individuals on Medi-Cal). These fees can vary between counties, but they won’t exceed $100 for the whole application process (or $50 for those enrolled in Medi-Cal). It costs between $25-$40 to renew your card every year, and it will be anywhere between $45-$150 for the doctor’s visit (or you can find a doctor who can prescribe an MMJ card online, so you don’t even have to make a trip to the office). The card is valid for exactly one year when you have to go through the process of renewing it by applying again. Even with the costs of getting a cannabis card, you could still save a significant amount of money by getting a card and not paying California sales tax on marijuana products.
With the legalization of marijuana in California, there will definitely be many changes taking place. It’s possible that dispensaries will start having two separate rooms: one for recreational users and one for individuals with a medical marijuana card. If you don’t have a card and head into the recreational room, you will have to pay that dreaded sales tax.
How much you could save with an MMJ card
Let’s break down how much you could possibly save with an MMJ card. Overall, those individuals purchasing with a cannabis card pay less; it’s cheaper and you can purchase more than others without a card even once it’s legalized. For example, MMJ card holders are allowed to purchase eight ounces versus just one ounce for those without a cannabis card. If you do spend a significant amount on your medical marijuana supply during the whole year, you’re more likely to see generous savings with a MMJ card than without one.
If you spend around $250 on product, without a cannabis card, you’d be charged a 15% sales tax of $37.50. Even if the card costs you at the most $100 to get (there’s a cap, so you won’t spend more than this on the actual card), you’d be earning back that cost very quickly. That’s pretty significant savings, especially if you purchase product frequently. Another example would be if you buy 1/8th of marijuana (or 3.5 grams), you would probably pay around $50 with your cannabis card. Whereas, if you don’t have a card, starting in 2018, 1/8th could cost you as much as $90. That’s a huge difference!
Additionally, you should keep in mind that there could be slight increases in the actual cost of the products in 2018 because cultivators still have to incur costs from production. This added cost would apply to both recreational and medical marijuana users. On the other hand, there are also some people who believe that marijuana becoming legalized will create a surplus of products that can only be sold to California residents or visitors to the state. If this surplus does occur, prices could actually be reduced slightly.
The bottom line
While figuring out your exact costs while being a medical marijuana card holder, make sure you do your research and see how the current California medical marijuana requirements apply to your specific circumstances. Then, you can figure out how to use this information to avoid sales tax and limit your spending.