How Much Does It Cost To Get A Medical Card In California In 2021?

Even though California has legalized recreational marijuana, there are still big advantages to having a California medical marijuana card. Medical marijuana is used to treat a diverse range of conditions, and being an MMJ cardholder in California brings real benefits.

The California MMJ program is one of the most well-run and patient-friendly in the US. California dispensaries stock a wide array of high-quality medical marijuana products and customer service is usually excellent. Having a California MMJ card is a great investment and well worth the cost.

So, how easy is it to get a medical card in California? How do you apply for an MMJ card in California? What are the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in California? And how much does it cost to get an MMJ card in California in 2021? Let’s answer all these questions and more.

How Easy Is It To Get A Medical Card In California?

California was an early adopter of medical marijuana, and its MMJ program has been influential to other states as they introduced their own programs. Getting a medical marijuana card in California is a straightforward process if you have a qualifying medical condition.

What Are The Qualifying Conditions For A California MMJ Card?

The qualifying conditions for a California MMJ card are:

  • Cancer
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Side effects of radiation therapy
  • Glaucoma
  • Arthritis
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Migraine headaches
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Any chronic medical condition that causes serious harm to your mental or physical health
view of california city at sunset
Image by Roberto Nickson on Pexels: How easy is it to get a California MMJ card?

How Do You Get A Medical Card In California In 2021?

The best way to get a California medical marijuana card is to register on the MMJRecs online clinic. You will then have a telemedicine consultation with one of their California medical marijuana doctors to evaluate whether you qualify for a California MMJ card.

If you are eligible, your doctor will email you a doctor’s certification for MMJ instantly and your original embossed certificate will be posted to you the next day. You’ll then submit a valid proof of identity, proof of residency, and your certificate to the California Department of Public Health.

How Much Does It Cost To Get A Medical Card In California In 2021?

A California medical marijuana card costs $50 in 2021. You pay this directly to the state of California during the application process. Your card will then be posted to you and will arrive in 7–10 business days.

How Long Is A California Medical Marijuana Card Valid For?

A California MMJ card is valid for one year and must be renewed by repeating the original application process.

Do You Still Need A Medical Card In California In 2021?

You do not need a California MMJ card to buy marijuana products in California in 2021. This is because the Golden State has legalized recreational marijuana. However, having a California MMJ card has benefits and is a better option than buying recreational marijuana.

Some medical marijuana dispensaries will sell MMJ products to patients who have a doctor’s certificate but do not have an official MMIC (Medical Marijuana Identification Card).

Why Is An MMJ Card Beneficial Even Though Recreational Marijuana Is Legal?

Using a California MMJ card instead of buying recreational marijuana is better for several reasons:

  • Recreational marijuana is only available to people over the age of 21, while minors can access medical marijuana with the help of a caregiver.
  • Medical marijuana is not subject to state sales tax, so it is cheaper than recreational marijuana.
  • Medical dispensaries can sell lotions and tinctures with up to 2,000 mg of cannabinoids, while in recreational dispensaries the limit is 1,000 mg.
  • Home cultivation limits are much higher for California MMJ cardholders.
marijuana leaf
Image by Wild0ne on Pixabay: How much does a California MMJ card cost in 2021?

Can A Minor Get A Medical Card In California?

People over the age of 18 can get a California medical marijuana card. Recreational marijuana is only available to over 21s. Minors can use medical marijuana treatment in California, but they must be assisted by a caregiver who is over the age of 18.

What Products Are Available In California Dispensaries?

California has recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries. Only medical card holders can purchase MMJ products in medical marijuana dispensaries.

California medical marijuana dispensaries sell a wide range of products, including:

  • MMJ flower
  • Pre-rolls
  • Edibles
  • Beverages
  • MMJ concentrates
  • Tinctures
  • Vapes
  • Topicals
  • Lotions

Featured image by Julian Myles on Unsplash

Do You Still Need A Medical Card In California 2021?

Recreational marijuana has been legal in California for several years now. There are tons of dispensaries at your disposal, and you can even grow your own product. So, do you still need a medical card in California in 2021? The answer is yes! There are still tons of benefits to owning a medical marijuana (MMJ) card, so here’s more info about why you should consider getting one (or renewing your existing one).

How many plants can you grow in California legally with a medical card?

One of the main benefits of an MMJ card is the fact that you can grow more product than you can if you’re just a recreational user. If you’re an MMJ patient, you can cultivate and grow up to six mature cannabis plants, 12 immature plants, and/or a greater amount consistent with what you need to treat your medical condition. This can be done in any 100-square-foot section of your property. Recreational users are only permitted to grow a maximum of six plants (regardless of their maturity level).

There’s also more freedom in growing cannabis plants with an MMJ card. You can grow any specific plants or strains that work well to treat your symptoms, which means you’re not dependent on dispensaries to grow the product that you require. Plus, the best part is that growing your own plants can help you keep your costs as low as possible.

MMJRecs - medical marijuana dispensary
Image by Add Weed on Unsplash: There are tons of legal dispensaries at your disposal if you live in California.

How many legal dispensaries are in California?

The state of California is a great place to live if you require MMJ or recreational cannabis. Currently, there are more than 1,440 legal dispensaries for you to take advantage of all around the state. In fact, there’s a dispensary for every 38.7 million people, making California the state with the eighth highest number of legal dispensaries to serve the population.

Is getting a medical card worth it?

Aside from the number of plants you can grow and the large number of dispensaries at your disposal, getting an MMJ card is also a great idea if you live in the Golden State for other reasons. Here are a few more to convince you:

It can save you money

As mentioned above, you can grow your own plants in order to save money you would otherwise spend at dispensaries with higher prices. But there’s also the fact that patients with MMJ cards have sales taxes waived on their products. Although there might be a retail excise tax and a local tax, you’ll still be saving major dough as a cardholder.

It gives you access to better products

MMJ dispensaries often offer a wider variety of products (such as tinctures, edibles, etc.) than the ones you might find at a recreational dispensary. They can also offer higher-grade strains that can be more helpful in treating your physical or emotional symptoms. More potent products likely mean you’ll get more relief from the MMJ form of cannabis. If you decide to grow your own product, you’ll also have better access to the specific plants and strains that will be the most helpful to you.

You’ll have less restrictions

With an MMJ card, you’re permitted to buy marijuana if you’re 18 years of age or older. Without a card, you have to wait until you’re 21 to purchase cannabis. There are also fewer restrictions regarding how much cannabis you can carry at a time. Recreational users are only allowed to carry one ounce of flower (or eight grams of cannabis concentrates) at any one time. Edibles are also restricted at 10mg of individual doses at a time. With an MMJ card, you’re permitted to buy and carry as much marijuana as you need to help treat your medical condition.

You can grow more product

We already noted this above, but it’s still worth paying attention to. Being able to grow as much cannabis as you need is a huge benefit to owning an MMJ card.

man applying for MMJ card online
Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay: You can easily apply for an MMJ card in California by going online.

How easy is it to get a medical card in California?

It’s a pretty simple process to get an MMJ card in 2021. First, you must have a medical condition that can qualify you for a card. This can be anything from glaucoma and anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder and cancer. You’ll need to get a medical professional to verify that you would benefit from using cannabis products. If you don’t have a doctor who can do this for you, you can always use the services of MMJRecs to connect you with someone who can help.

In order to get your card, you’ll need to submit an application to the county you live in. You will need a copy of the medical recommendation, proof of identity (such as your driver’s license or photo ID), and proof of residency (such as a rental or mortgage statement, utility bill, or DMV vehicle registration). You might have to pay a fee depending on the county you live in, but this amount will never total more than $100. The county will then have 30 days to verify your application and five days to issue your official Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC).

Overall, the process to get an MMJ card is relatively easy and can be helpful in saving you money and giving you access to better products. There’s no better time than 2021 to get your MMJ card in California!

Featured image by Free-Photos on Pixabay

Which California City Has The Best MMJ Dispensaries?

California has long been a mecca for medical marijuana. Some of the earliest efforts to promote the legalization of medicinal cannabis happened in California, particularly San Francisco, in the early ’90s. California became one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, and since then the Golden State’s MMJ program has gone from strength to strength.

California also legalized recreational marijuana from January 1st, 2018. While both medical and recreational marijuana are now legal in the state, there are advantages to having a California medical marijuana card, including money savings and not having to worry about shortages.

California medical marijuana patients use a wide array of MMJ products to treat medical conditions including: AIDS, anxiety, anorexia, arthritis, cachexia, cancer, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, migraine, muscle spasms, nausea, and seizures. MMJ can greatly relieve the symptoms of these, as well as many other medical conditions.

Since the legalization of medical marijuana in California, the MMJ industry has been booming in the state. California has a very vibrant MMJ scene and is home to some of the most educational, forward-looking, and well-stocked medical marijuana dispensaries in the world. But which California city has the best MMJ dispensaries? Read on to find out all you need to know about dispensaries in California.

MMJRecs - cannabis products
Image by msqrd2 on Pixabay: Which California city has the best MMJ dispensaries?

How Many MMJ Dispensaries Are There In California?

There are over 500 MMJ dispensaries in California. They are spread throughout the state, with San Francisco, LA, and San Diego being main hubs. California dispensaries take in an estimated $1 to $2 billion in revenue every year.

What MMJ Products Do California Dispensaries Sell?

California medical marijuana dispensaries are some of the most well-stocked in the world. Cali MMJ dispensaries sell a wide array of high-quality MMJ products, such as:

  • Pre-rolls
  • Marijuana flower
  • Cannabis oils
  • Beauty and skincare products
  • Edibles
  • Drinks and teas
  • Capsules
  • Vapes
  • Tinctures

Which City Has The Most Dispensaries In California?

Cathedral City, which sits inland and equidistant between LA and San Diego, has the highest number of medical marijuana dispensaries per capita in California.

What Is The Biggest Dispensary In California?

There are several large dispensaries in California, all of which have very extensive menus. In terms of product range, Grass Roots in San Francisco seems to have the largest menu of MMJ products in California.

Can California Dispensaries Ship Out Of State?

Several California dispensaries operate online and home-deliver MMJ. MMJ home delivery has become especially popular during the COVID pandemic lockdowns. Some California MMJ dispensaries also ship out of state.

Do California Dispensaries Accept Out-Of-State Medical Cards?

California does not have a dedicated MMJ card reciprocity program, but out-of-state visitors are allowed to apply for a California medical marijuana card that they can use while in the state. Once they have a Cali medical card, they can buy MMJ products from California medical marijuana dispensaries.

Which California City Has The Best MMJ Dispensaries?

There are excellent MMJ dispensaries all across California. MMJ patients are divided about which city has the best dispensaries in the state. We think that thanks to its relaxed and laid-back vibe, and the educational ethos and spectacular product range of its dispensaries, San Francisco just pips LA to the title.

MMJRecs - San Francisco
Image by Tim Foster on Unsplash: San Francisco has the best MMJ dispensaries in California.

3 Of The Best Dispensaries In San Francisco

1. Apothecarium

Apothecarium is a mini-chain with multiple locations in San Francisco. With its opulent, stylish interior and excellent range of high-end but reasonably priced MMJ products, Apothecarium rightly deserves its reputation as one of the best MMJ dispensaries in California.

2. Moe Greens

This dispensary has an amazing range of high-end marijuana products, including drinks and edibles. It is famous for its “playground” lounge, where you can relax and sample its unique menu on comfortable green leather booths beneath sparkling chandeliers.

3. Grass Roots

Grass Roots is a local favorite with San Francisco MMJ patients. This atmospheric dispensary opens late and boasts California’s largest range of medical marijuana products.

How Can You Get A California Medical Marijuana Card?

The best way to get a California medical marijuana card is to arrange a telemedicine consultation with a California MMJ doctor through the MMJRecs online clinic. In the consultation, the doctor will examine you to verify your suitability for MMJ treatment. Once your suitability has been verified, you will be emailed a legal medical marijuana physician certification form instantly.

Featured image by Free-Photos on Pixabay

The 8 Best MMJ Sweets On The Market

Since its introduction in 1996 in California, patients have been finding unique ways to incorporate medical marijuana into their daily routine. As well as all the legislature, advocation, and vilification of MMJ, there’s also a fun side too; you can mix and match your medicine with a large variety of sweet treats, making it more appetizing, appealing, and fun! MMJ sweets are all the rage with some patients, and it’s easy to see why – once you try some, you’ll be hooked.

To date, 29 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, with a 30th and 31st likely to follow this year. A number of liberal states have also begun the arduous process of legalizing recreational marijuana, although this doesn’t look set to detract from medical marijuana programs in the states it’s being introduced in. In the case of California, for example, the government recently introduced a sales tax rebate for MMJ patients, which means they don’t have to pay tax on their medicine. This initiative shows the commitment to MMJ from long-standing proponents, and hopefully other states will follow suit.

If you’re looking for new, unique ways to incorporate MMJ, then check out this handy list of MMJ sweets below. Of course, there are many ways to avail of medical marijuana, and not all of them will suit you; make sure to check with your doctor which form of MMJ works best for your specific condition!

Gummies are seriously tasty even before you add in some MMJ.

1. Leaf Eater Gummy Leaves

Everyone loves gummies, right? Well, with these incredibly moreish and potent candies, you’ll definitely find your sweet spot. Leaf Eater is a West Coast brand that loves to cram its product with MMJ; a single gummy carries a hit of 80mgs, with just two of the candies providing a satisfying and relieving 160mgs of marijuana.

2. Cheeba Chews

Cheeba Chews have the distinctive pedigree of being one of the first legal distributors of infused edibles in California. They’ve been producing their award-winning MMJ sweets for eight years now, so clearly they’re doing something right! Their individual dosage of 10mgs won’t take your head off, and if you prefer or require a lighter touch to your medicine, this could be the sweet for you. Their packaging is also nice and discreet as well, making them unlikely to be sampled by eager children, which is always a plus if you have kids around!

3. Kiva Confections Chocolate Bar

Kiva Confections have also been in business for a long time, producing some of the classiest MMJ sweets on the market. They rigorously test their chocolate for artificial ingredients, and aim to give their customers the highest standards. Their packaging is also awesome, and the taste is sublime; some of the best-tasting marijuana chocolate out there for sure.

4. Wana Sour Gums

Wana hails from Colorado, a notoriously MMJ friendly state that was also one of the first in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana, along with Washington. Their informed packaging makes it exceptionally easy to keep track of exactly how much you’re taking, which can certainly be a problem if you forget you’re eating marijuana-infused sweets.

MMJ Recs - Chocolate Bar

Chocolate is one of the most popular MMJ sweets.

5. Dixie Mints

Dixie Elixirs produces a wide range of MMJ edibles, and is one of the few companies that offers marijuana-infused mints to their customers. When you think about it, it’s a great idea for an edible; not everyone likes sweet things, or wants to keep sweets around their house. The mints provide a perfect compromise for patients who still want to avail of edibles, but want to do so without the sugar intake. These delicious mints come in a variety of flavors, so you’ll have no trouble finding one you like.

6. RemedyPlus Gummies

RemedyPlus gummies are some of the coolest MMJ edibles on the market. Packaged like old-school sweets you’ll love and remember from your childhood days, their range includes rainbow belts, space worms, and dozens of other retro classics. Doses depend on which type of candy you choose, and can either be pretty light or significant, depending on your preference. Just remember to choose your dose first, not which type of sweet you prefer!

7. Kaneh Co. S’mores Brownie

Kaneh Co. has carved out a long-standing reputation for producing high-quality, delicious edibles and MMJ sweets; you could even eat them without the added THC benefit. When you factor in that their tasty offerings are also beneficial to your health, they make for an unbeatable treat. Their brownies are incredibly satisfying; they’re produced without preservatives, too, so you don’t have to worry about any artificial nastiness. If these guys just produced brownies with no additional MMJ ingredients, it’d be totally fine, they’re that delicious!

8. Punch Chocolate Bar

Punch’s chocolate offerings are both delicious and potent. They separate out into little chunks so you can keep track of how much you’re eating. This is especially important when it comes to this edible, as it can pack quite a… Well, punch. And unlike some other MMJ chocolate brands, they’re intent on keeping it fresh, coming out with new flavors and conceptions every season.

The Four Most MMJ Friendly States In America

As it stands in 2018, medical marijuana sits at a distinctive crossroads in American society. Over half of the country has embraced it; 29 states have legalized the drug for medicinal purposes, with the 30th state almost sure to follow this year. Across the remaining 20 states, however, medical marijuana remains a contentious issue. Some are dead set on never leaglazing it at all. The problem is that a medical marijuana initiative would not be a federal law; each state has to make their own laws when it comes to MMJ, hence the wildly varying results and surprising outcomes.

Take New York for instance. Many thought that due to its liberal leanings, New York would be a flagship state for the legalization of MMJ. On the contrary, NY’s initial attempt at medical marijuana was one of the most conservative in the country, coming a full 18 years after California first legalized MMJ in the U.S. in 1996. There have since been concerted efforts to overturn some of the more restrictive legislature, with varying degrees of success. What it does prove is that MMJ law is a tricky subject to get a handle on for many state governments, and it could be a while before we see a U.S. with 50 MMJ friendly states. That doesn’t mean there aren’t areas of the country that are fully pro-medical marijuana; there certainly are. If you’re wondering where exactly they are, then luckily you have to look no further than this handy article!

MMJ Recs - Golden Gate Bridge

Colorado is one of the most progressive MMJ friendly states in the country.

1. California

California places number one on this list of MMJ friendly states, as it was the first to take the leap and legalize medical marijuana way back in 1996. The Compassionate Use Act, or Proposition 215, was a revolutionary piece of legislature that paved the way for future states to lay their own groundwork. In the 22 years since it pioneered MMJ law, California’s enthusiasm for the treatment has not waned. Recently, the state passed a law that aimed to legalize recreational marijuana from the beginning of 2018. While some thought that the introduction of this legislature might make medical marijuana obsolete in California, in fact, the exact opposite turned out to be true. The government reaffirmed its commitment to its MMJ program by introducing a sales tax rebate for all medical marijuana patients or holders of a medical marijuana card. As recreational marijuana is slowly introduced into the Sunshine State, it looks as though MMJ will remain as strong as ever.

2. Colorado

Colorado was hot on California’s heels, and was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana in the country; their legislature passed in 2000. Most marijuana advocates will recognise Colorado as the pioneer of recreational marijuana legalization, however. The state took that previously unheard-of initiative back in 2012. It makes sense that a state that has been committed to medical marijuana since the early days was also keen to legalize recreational marijuana, and like California, their initiatives go hand-in-hand. When it comes to MMJ, however, the Colorado market is startlingly robust, based on over seventeen years of experience. The MMJ industry is worth around $450 million to the state, so it’s no surprise that they’re keeping it in tip-top shape.

3. Washington

Colorado is often thought of as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana and is often seen as the poster state for the cause. However, Washington was equally pioneering, and legalized at exactly the same time as Colorado in 2012, paving the way for recreational marijuana laws to be loosened across the country. In fact, Washington is AHEAD of Colorado when it comes to medical marijuana. The state passed Initiative 692 in November 1998, just two short years after California trailblazed the initiative. The list of Washington’s qualifying conditions is also pretty extensive, making medical marijuana available to all sorts of patients who may be able to benefit from the medicine. Through the years Washington has seen extensive amendments to their medical marijuana bill, and in 2018, it proudly stands as one of the most inclusive and progressive MMJ friendly states in the country.

MMJ Recs - Maine Coastline

Maine has been committed to advancing its MMJ policies.

4. Maine

Maine might seem like an odd entry on this list, but it’s certainly doing its part to progress the MMJ cause. Medical marijuana became legal in 1999 (so even before Colorado), but under very strict regulations. This rules were relaxed significantly in 2005 with the passing of Question 5, which aimed to explicitly establish a Maine Medical Marijuana Act. Since then, the state has gone from strength to strength when it comes to MMJ; the most recent example of this advocation came just at the beginning of this year, when the state’s health care body approved progressive new legislature. These new remits will see an increase in the number of dispensary licenses across the state, while also loosening requirements under which medical marijuana can be used.

The above MMJ friendly states are shining examples of progressive medical marijuana treatment, but they are by no means the only states doing great work to advocate the cause. Hopefully their leadership on this important cause can inspire other states to investigate legalizing MMJ in their own territories.

5 Benefits of Having A California Medical Marijuana Card

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!

MMJRecs - Marijuana Leaf

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana.

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.

MMJRecs - Marijuana Flowers

Patients in California don’t pay sales tax on MMJ.

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.

Now That Recreational Marijuana Is Legalized, What Does That Mean For MMJ Patients?

Marijuana in America is a tale of two strains. On the one hand, there is medical marijuana, or MMJ for short, which has been gaining traction as a progressive new health care option for the last two decades. On the other hand, there’s recreational marijuana, which has recently seen an upsurge in support, and has been legalized in nine states and Washington D.C. The question on many users’ minds, especially MMJ patients, is do they hurt or help each other? And while it might be still too early in the game to say definitively, we can make some educated guesses based on the states that have incorporated both so far.

Recreational marijuana is set to have its biggest year in 2018. It started out on the wrong foot, when President Trump’s Department of Justice, headed up by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, announced that it was repealing a key Obama-era memo that prevented federal meddling in each individual state’s marijuana laws. Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, meaning that the feds can still come down hard on the drug, even in states where it’s legal to use it recreationally.

MMJRecs - Street Signs

Many MMJ users might be wondering how newly introduced recreational marijuana laws affect them.

However, as with much of our current administration, the rescinding seemed to amount to posturing and nothing more. There is little evidence so far that the government will do anything to combat marijuana on a federal level; it seems content to leave it well enough alone in states that have already legalized the drug. If you think it seems contradictory that the drug can be prosecuted on a federal level while legal on a state level, don’t worry; the majority of the Justice Department might just think so too. Federal prosectors around the country released vague statements soon after the rescinding, stating that there would be no new crackdown in recreationally legal states.

This is great news for California, the state that opened the world’s largest legal marijuana market to date on January 1st. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana way back in 1996. Since that time, it’s always had a remarkably liberal policy towards marijuana in general, and cemented that status on November 9th, 2016, when it took the plunge and made recreational marijuana fully legal too. The state gave itself fourteen months to get the legislation together and prepare its citizens for a full move to legality, culminating in the January 1st, 2018 deadline.

Though California was certainly not the first state to legalize marijuana recreationally, it is definitely the most important yet. The state constitutes the world’s sixth largest economy, and of course, is the largest state in the U.S. Some four hundred businesses were approved to licence, and many cities all over the state have passed laws allowing local businesses to sell marijuana. Despite this, there have been some teething problems with the new legislature, and it’s with these discrepancies that we can measure the impact of recreational marijuana against medical marijuana.

Essentially, despite all the good will in the world, California is not ready to implement such a large recreational program of marijuana. Medical marijuana has been legal for 22 years, and although it’s largely been smooth sailing, there are still some lingering issues. It’s a tall ask for a state to bring together a previously black market industry (which, despite being a black market, is undoubtedly huge), and signs are that it’s not as straightforward as some in government would have hoped. For a start, every city in the state has to come up with its own distinct rules on what exactly can be sold and where, and to what degree. This makes for a confusing situation, as there’s no one rule to bind them all.

MMJRecs - Downtown Los Angeles

Marijuana laws for both medical and recreational use still differ from state to state.

In terms of MMJ patients who might be worried that their medical marijuana ID card is invalid because recreational marijuana is legalized, there’s a simple answer: don’t be. MMJ, procured from licenced dispensaries, is still the safest and most effective way to alleviate the symptoms it has been prescribed to you for. Your doctor will know which strain is best suited to your particular ailment. It’s not a good idea to attempt to self-medicate, nor is it a sure thing that all MMJ strains will be legally or immediately available in a recreational capacity.

As if to underline the importance of MMJ, the government of California has introduced a sales tax break to medical marijuana patients, indicating its continued commitment to the MMJ cause and legislature. If we take what’s currently happening in California as a microcosm for the whole of the U.S. we see that MMJ and recreational marijuana will undoubtedly continue to co-exist simultaneously, and even benefit from each other as they do. While the future is a little cloudy, especially when it comes to the number of states that have legalized medical but not recreational marijuana, there is no doubt that both strains will continue to exist harmoniously in the U.S. for a long time to come.

Why 2018 Is Already The Best Year For MMJ Patients

Medical marijuana has had a long and difficult road to get to where it finds itself in 2018. Although MMJ has many proven health benefits, and can ease symptoms of a wide variety of illnesses and afflictions, the progressive drug therapy has seen itself radically criminalized in some circles, and continues to be a point of contention for many conservative governors, senators, and councilmen/women.  However, the outlier medicine has made fantastic strides over the last decade or so, which means that 2018 is looking to be the year the pendulum swings fully in favor of MMJ and its assorted infrastructure.

The tide started to turn way back in 1996, when California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. This was a big deal 22 years ago, and although it wasn’t the first state to complete the circle and legalize recreational marijuana (that particular accolade goes to Colorado and Washington simultaneously), the Golden State has continued to be a frontrunner in marijuana advocation and legislation throughout the past two decades. The state legalized recreational marijuana the day after a tumultuous presidential election, and can (in theory) start selling the drug this year. More on that later.

MMJRecs - Marijuana Plant

Will 2018 be a turning point for medical marijuana in the U.S.? We think so.

Currently, 29 states (and Washington D.C.) have legalized medical marijuana, so we’re well past the halfway threshold in terms of cumulative state legislation. Signs are strong that the 30th state won’t be too far off, and several more look set to follow throughout 2018, meaning that this year could potentially see the biggest turnover of states to pro-green status since California ruled in MMJ’s favor 22 years ago. However, because medical marijuana doesn’t constitute a federal initiative, the way these 29-and-counting states are approaching MMJ is wildly different, and can have consequences for patients depending on their location.

Evidence of these interstate discrepancies can be found in the case of New York. The East Coast state has long been considered a liberal bastion, and can usually stand toe-to-toe with the large liberal stronghold on the West Coast that is California. However, when it comes to medical marijuana, New York seemed to stumble; this is largely due to the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, being highly against marijuana in general, and seeing it as a “gateway drug,” even in a medicinal capacity. This didn’t stop MMJ being legalized in New York in 2014, but it was introduced as one of the most restrictive and conservative programs anywhere in the country, which surprised many people. One obvious example of this restrictiveness is that patients could not consume the drug in its leaf form, which has been regarded as the most potent form, and the most likely to help ease symptoms.

Fortunately, in 2018, patients could see the situation change for the better, courtesy of NY’s neighbours, New Jersey. Intense advocation has already seen the qualifying condition “chronic pain” added to the list, which has opened up MMJ care to  whole host of patients who could previously not access it. 2018 will more than likely see recreational marijuana legalized in New Jersey, as well as Massachusetts and even Connecticut, surrounding New York with liberal marijuana laws. Under that kind of pressure, Cuomo and the conservative elements of New York are sure to crack, paving the way for recreational marijuana, and helping the cause of medical marijuana in the process.

MMJRecs - Marijuana Buds

The legalization of recreational marijuana is in fact helping the cause of medical marijuana in several ways.

You might wonder why medical marijuana has a place at all if recreational marijuana is taking the country by storm. In fact, the opposite is proving to be true; the legalization of recreational marijuana only serves to heighten the importance, and provide advantages to, the cause of MMJ. Take California as an example. Recreational marijuana was due to start being legally sold in the state as of January 1st, 2018. However, due to intense concerns about expanding a previously black market-based operation into the full light of legality, it has yet to occur, and looks like it won’t for some time.

What has occurred is a sales tax break for patients using medical marijuana, which is fantastic news for those who are committed to using the drug to treat their ailments. Also, the specialist care that doctors provide to patients when it comes to selecting the correct strain of marijuana for their conditions is still paramount; self-medicating with recreational marijuana is a very poor idea indeed.

So, the advancement of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana laws go hand in hand; instead of one eclipsing the other, they in fact work in tandem. This has already been proven at the start of the year in California, and as 2018 goes on and both causes are furthered simultaneously, the future looks bright for medical marijuana. Even though it’s only March, it’s easy to see why many people are considering this year the best year yet for MMJ; and with many months still to go, it could shine brighter yet.

Why All California MMJ Patients Should Renew Their Medical Marijuana Card

Thinking since marijuana is legal in California you don’t need to renew your medical marijuana card? Think again! There are still a ton of benefits you can get if you renew your cannabis card in 2018. Check out the many reasons listed below to find out why you should hang onto your California MMJ card this year.

Saves you money

The most important benefit to having an MMJ card is your ability to save lots of money. If you want to make sure you’re keeping all of your cannabis costs low, make sure to renew your medical marijuana card instead of just purchasing products for recreational use. Once you have an MMJ card in your possession (it’s a super simple application process), you can pay a reasonable fee (between $25 and $40) to renew your card annually. This one-time yearly fee is quickly offset by the other savings you’ll see add up from using your cannabis card. One way to get major savings is the ability MMJ card holders have to skip paying sales tax on all cannabis products. Anyone with an MMJ card avoids a 15% sales tax – which can end up saving you major bucks. Additionally, consumers who are purchasing only recreational products can pay anywhere from 14% to 20% more on their purchases than those buying medical marijuana products.

You can also find savings when you shop at medical marijuana dispensaries. These specific stores usually offer a wider variety of products than recreational ones, so you can shop for products that fit within your budget. Additionally, there are often added opportunities for savings with things like rewards programs and discounts for referring other customers. Even if you don’t want to head out to a dispensary, having an MMJ card means you can grow more of your own product, so you can keep your overall purchasing costs low.

Keeping your medical marijuana card can help you save a lot of cash.

Access to better products

Although marijuana is now legal in California, having an MMJ card means you’ll have better access to higher quality cannabis products than if you were just purchasing for recreational use. Medical marijuana dispensaries often offer a wider variety of products (including edibles) and usually offer higher-grade strains with different THC:CBD ratios – which means you’ll be getting products that are more potent and are more likely to effectively treat your symptoms. If you decide to grow your own plants, you also have the opportunity to grow specific strains (and higher-quality products) that are right for your own individual needs.

Fewer restrictions

If you already have an MMJ card, you know that there are fewer restrictions than if you’re purchasing products solely for recreational use. For example, with a California MMJ card, you can purchase medical marijuana as long as you are 18 years or older. Without a cannabis card, you have to wait until you’re 21 years old to purchase cannabis products. For individuals with health issues who can’t wait until they’re 21 to purchase marijuana, having an MMJ card can be hugely beneficial.

There are also less regulations enforced for those carrying an MMJ card. Recreational users are only permitted to carry one ounce of flower (or eight grams of cannabis concentrates) at one time. Being able to carry edibles is also restricted for recreational users, who can only carry 10mg of individual doses at a time. However, with a cannabis card, you are able to buy and carry as much cannabis as your medical condition requires.

Just make sure to keep your MMJ card with you at all times, so you don’t face any issues if you’re out carrying or buying marijuana products.

There are far fewer restrictions for those who hold MMJ cards in California.

Can grow more product

Another helpful benefit of renewing your medical marijuana card is the ability to grow more of your own plants. While recreational users are only permitted to grow six mature marijuana plants on their property at any one time, cannabis card holders can grow an unlimited amount in any 100-square-foot section of their property. Not only can you grow more product (which can help keep your costs low), you can also grow the specific plants and strains that are appropriate for your medical condition and symptoms. This additional freedom means you won’t be stuck buying dispensary products that don’t fit your particular needs. Growing your own plants can also reduce your overall costs of purchasing products at a dispensary (who sometimes mark up their products).

Even though marijuana is now legal in California, there are tons of reasons you should renew your MMJ card immediately. Your cannabis card helps you save money and get the exact products you need to treat your symptoms – all with less regulations! So, renew your cannabis card now and get all of the many benefits that come with it!

Medical Marijuana Is Now Legal In Australia: Which Country Will Be Next To Legalize MMJ?

Early in 2017, Victoria became the first Australian state to legalize medical marijuana. Other states and territories in the country quickly followed suit. As with many countries worldwide, the discussion surrounding this important issue was long and protracted. Australia currently has to import medical cannabis from overseas, once a patient has been prescribed it by an authorized medic. The change in the law means that not only will the importation process be sped up, but also that Australia is now allowed to start growing its own medical cannabis. This means obviously that waiting time for patients prescribed with medical marijuana will be cut. Good news indeed!

Portugal was the first actual country to legalize medical marijuana, in 2001. The U.S. state of California, though, was way ahead of the game, legalizing MMJ way back in 1996. The next few countries to follow where Portugal blazed a trail were the Czech Republic, Finland, Holland, Spain, and Greece. Many more countries have since jumped on the increasingly popular bandwagon. California and a few more states – including Washington D.C. – have just recently legalized marijuana for recreational as well as medicinal use. No doubt other countries will keep a close eye on California to see how this legalization plays out and will then probably, in time, do the same. If you’re interested to know which countries currently allow marijuana for medical purposes, have a read here.

MMJ Recs - doctor with child patient

With many children suffering from debilitating illnesses that can be treated with medical marijuana, several countries seem to be changing their attitude towards MMJ.

So which country might be the next one to legalize medical marijuana? Let’s take a look at Ireland first. This little country is taking big steps towards legalization. It’s a slow process though – any proposed bills have to pass through long and drawn out parliamentary procedures before they have a chance of becoming law. The bill for legalization did pass its second reading in Parliament at the end of 2017, though, so progress is being made. The current law states that the Minister for Health can grant a special license for the use of MMJ, if he sees fit. The first such license was awarded in 2016 to a two-year-old boy with Dravet Syndrome, which allowed the treatment that he’d started in Colorado to be continued. A more recent case in Ireland made headlines when Ava Twomey’s mother – Vera – set out on a walk from her home in Cork to Dublin (some 186 miles) in order to raise awareness of her child’s plight. Ava (7) suffers from Dravet Syndrome, too, which meant that she was having several, severely debilitating epileptic seizures a day. Shortly before Christmas 2017, Ava was granted a license for the medical cannabis she needed and so the family was able to return home to Ireland from the Netherlands, where they’d been living in order to access the cannabis oil Ava needed. Since taking the cannabis oil on a regular basis, Ava’s seizures have stopped completely. A heart-warming story indeed and one which will surely increase the chances of Ireland being one of the next countries to legalize medical marijuana.

Ireland’s geographical neighbor, the U.K., could also well be in the race for the next country to legalize MMJ.  Like Ireland, the U.K. currently has very strict rules under which CBD oil can be given to patients. Cannabidiol was recently re-classified as a medicine by the Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency. An 11-year-old boy named Billy Caldwell was the first child to benefit from this change in law. Billy had been suffering from epileptic seizures every day since he was baby; sometimes as many as 100 fits in one day. He was first given cannabis oil in California (where, of course, medical marijuana had been legal for some time), which resulted in a dramatic reduction in his number of seizures and then a complete cessation of them. Back in the U.K. (Northern Ireland, actually, but it’s part of the U.K. rather than Ireland), his own GP saw the wisdom in continuing with Billy’s treatment and so prescribed him the cannabidiol. Research is currently ongoing in the form of clinical trials around a pure form of cannabis, which is specifically engineered for medicinal purposes. If these trials prove successful, the U.K. will almost certainly be well on the way to fully legalizing medical marijuana.

MMJ Recs - world map

Many more countries seem set to follow in the footsteps of Australia and the U.S. when it comes to legalizing MMJ.

France is often seen as a fairly laid-back, enlightened, and libertarian country in many respects, but to date it’s somewhat behind its European counterparts when it comes to marijuana. Sativex, a cannabis-based prescription mouth spray, was only approved in France in 2014; it was the sixteenth European country to legalize this particular treatment, which is mainly prescribed for MS sufferers. However, with a newly elected liberal-minded president – Emmanuel Macron – word is that France could well be one of the next countries to legalize MMJ. He has already eliminated compulsory prison sentences for petty marijuana offenses and, during his campaign to become president, Macron professed a desire to relax other French laws relating to marijuana. So this country does have a bit of way to go yet, but if the new president follows through with his promises, we could certainly see France as one of the next countries to legalize medical marijuana.

With so many countries now following the example set by the state of California, surely it’s only a question of time before most of the world accepts that MMJ is the way forward in the treatment and relief of many acute diseases.

6 Benefits of Having a California MMJ Card in 2018

Although recreational marijuana is now legal in the state of California, there are still plenty of reasons that you should obtain an MMJ card in 2018. With major bonuses of saving money and having less restrictions, there are so many advantages to having a cannabis card. Read on for all of the ways you can benefit from having a California MMJ card.

1. Continuous care

Let’s say you already have a cannabis card. One of the benefits of renewing it (despite the new legality of recreational marijuana) is that you can continue your consumption of cannabis products without any interruption. Similar to switching health insurance plans, if you discontinue using your MMJ card, you could face obstacles in obtaining your products. You would also likely face an increase in the amount you spend to obtain your cannabis. By keeping your California MMJ card (or renewing it annually), you can be sure that you won’t face any interference in your cannabis purchases or consumption.

2. Lower age limit

Now that recreational marijuana usage is legal, users still must be over 21 years of age to purchase or consume cannabis products. However, with a California MMJ card, you only have to be 18 years old to use medical marijuana. This advantage can be very helpful if you’re under 21 but still need to use cannabis products for medical treatment.

Even though recreational marijuana is now legal in California, you’ll be entitled to a lot more benefits if you have a California MMJ card.

3. More access to dispensaries

With a California MMJ card, you never have to worry about buying your product from a disreputable seller. Cannabis card holders have access to a large number of dispensaries (that often offer better quality products). Instead of purchasing cannabis products from an unknown seller, most medical marijuana dispensaries provide customers with higher-grade strains with a variety of THC:CBD ratios, so you’ll be getting product that is much more effective.

4. Opportunity to grow your own plants

If you’re interested in growing your own marijuana plants in your home, an MMJ card provides you with less limitations than a recreational grower. If you’re solely growing for recreational uses, you are only permitted to have six mature marijuana plants on your property at any one time. However, with a California MMJ card, you are allowed to grow more plants in any 100-square-foot area on your property. In addition to being able to skip the lines at a dispensary, growing your own plants also gives you the opportunity to grow a variety of strains (whichever best fits your particular medical needs) and ends up saving you money in the long-run.

5. Less overall restrictions

Although marijuana is now legal in California, there are still many restrictions in place in regards to using and growing cannabis products. If you’re solely using marijuana for recreational purposes, you can’t carry and use your cannabis products as freely as you can if you own an MMJ card. For example, recreational users are limited to one ounce of flower (or eight grams of cannabis concentrates) at a time, while users with an MMJ card can buy and carry as much cannabis as their treatment requires. Even edibles have restrictions for recreational users (with only 10mg of individual doses allowed at a time). If you have a California MMJ card, however, you’re able to buy and grow more product, in addition to having access to higher strength and better quality cannabis.

Having an MMJ card can help you save money in so many ways.

6. Can save you money

Last, but not least, perhaps the biggest benefit to having an MMJ card is the ability to save lots of cash. There are some minimal costs upfront to get a cannabis card, but it’s well worth it. If you’re interested in obtaining an MMJ card, you can apply for one for around $66 (or just $50 if you’re enrolled in Medi-Cal). There can be slight differences in price depending on the county you’re in, but there’s a cap of $100 for the entire application process. Then, you can either make a visit to a doctor’s office or do an online assessment for around $45-$150. Once you’ve completed the initial application, every year after, you’ll only pay between $25 and $40 to renew your MMJ card annually.

After you’ve obtained your MMJ card, you’ll be able to access major savings since you don’t ever have to pay sales tax on your medical marijuana products. Without a cannabis card, you’d be paying around 14–20% more for your cannabis purchases. For example, with a purchase of around $250 of product, you’d be charged a sales tax of 15% – which adds up to an extra $37.50 to your total! Cannabis card holders, on the other hand, can nix the sales tax and see their savings add up quickly.

MMJ card holders can also discover savings when they shop at medical marijuana dispensaries. These dispensaries (versus recreational stores) often give their customers a multitude of ways to save money, with everything from coupons and special deals to store credit bonuses and rewards programs. Being a loyal customer can often mean you’ll rack up even more significant savings. Some dispensaries even offer discounts for customers that refer other shoppers to them. So, with these extra savings and skipping the sales tax, having an MMJ card just makes financial sense!

There are many significant benefits to owning a California MMJ card in 2018. You can save money and face less restrictions on your usage. Plus, with a super-easy application process and minimal upfront costs, there’s basically no reason you shouldn’t obtain a cannabis card right away!

An In-Depth Look at MMJ Qualifying Conditions

Medical marijuana has been legalized in the U.S. since 1996, although the legislature applies on a state-by-state basis. The first state to blaze the trail was California, and since then, 28 others have followed in its footsteps, with several more waiting in the wings, on the cusp of legalization. Unfortunately for patients, MMJ law is not a federal affair, which can lead to a host of caveats for each legalization bill depending on the state you’re in. One of these caveats is the list of MMJ qualifying conditions for each state – that is, the conditions for which medical marijuana is an applicable and legal treatment.

Essentially, in order to qualify and avail of medical marijuana and allow doctors to legally prescribe it to you, you must have a diagnosed ailment that appears on the list of MMJ qualifying conditions accompanying every MMJ law that has been made per state. Once you’ve confirmed that your condition is on the list, then you can apply for your medical marijuana card from an authorized physician; this can be your primary care doctor, or it can easily be acquired online via telemedicine sites. Once you have that, you are free to visit dispensaries and avail of the medicine, in accordance with the supply and possession laws of each state.

MMJ Recs - Marijuana Plant

MMJ qualifying conditions vary from state to state, so it’s best to check your local policies to see whether you qualify.

Marijuana has been medically proven to lessen the symptoms of a great number of diseases; in fact, it has been used as a medicine in some form for many years, even preceding the introduction of it into law by California in ’96. However, not all states agree on what should be legally treatable with MMJ. The main reason for this is a worry that they might come across too vague, which would lead to abuse of a drug still considered illegal in many places in a recreational sense. Even with the advent of legal recreational marijuana, which has been legalized in eight states so far, MMJ qualifying conditions are still a hot topic among state governments.

In California, for example, the policy has always been very liberal in favour of medical marijuana, and the state’s MMJ qualifying conditions reflect that. Even though recreational marijuana has been legalized in the state since November 9th, 2016, it is still advantageous to have a medical marijuana card, because there are specific strains that treat specific diseases much better than the recreational strains. California and Colorado have also offered reduced sales taxes to patients in an effort to preserve their long-established and successful medical marijuana programs, which is a huge incentive for patients to continue with the program. There is also the fact that a state-wide rollout of medical marijuana has not yet been achieved by California, and could still be some way off, looking at the current progress on that front.

The most common MMJ qualifying conditions and ailments are pretty much seen across the board, in whatever state you’re in. They include cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis, which are all conditions where the marijuana can induce relaxation to remove some of the pressure and stress on the muscles and afflicted organs. There are also many other less common illnesses which are listed on each state’s MMJ qualifying conditions list, although be aware that it does change from state to state.

MMJ Recs - Marijuana Plant

Laws regarding MMJ are very different in California than they are in New York.

One of the most controversial of these conditions is listed simply as “chronic pain,” which, when you think about it, is more of a symptom than a condition in and of itself. However, it is a crucial one to list on the spectrum of qualifying conditions because it allows a great many sufferers to avail of the medicine without needing to be specific about their condition. It also allows doctors a freer hand in prescribing the medicine, as they won’t be too caught up in the legality of what they’re prescribing and what condition they’re prescribing it for. “Chronic pain” was in the wording of the first MMJ qualifying conditions outlined in the U.S., by California in 1996, but unfortunately, not all states agree that it should be included.

One controversial example was New York, a state which is known for its generally liberal leanings. Many expected it to follow suit with a progressive medical marijuana bill, but not only did it take 18 years to get the bill through the Senate, when it was revealed, it proved to be an extremely restrictive piece of legislation. One of the many issues was the absence of “chronic pain,” an omission that left many patients unable to avail of the drug. Due to intense lobbying and pressure, “chronic pain” has since been added to the NY list of conditions, but unfortunately, there are still a few states where that is not the case. As we work toward building an MMJ-friendly country, it’s good advice to take note of MMJ law in each individual state, and make sure your specific condition is listed.

How to Make Sure You’re Not Confused for a Recreational Marijuana User

thanks to the introduction of Proposition 64. California has long been a pioneer in the usage of marijuana, from medical marijuana legalization in 1996 until today, so this move came as little surprise to anyone. As the Sunshine State continues to present itself as a beacon of progression in these tumultuous times, some MMJ card carriers are worried about getting confused for recreational marijuana users.

Though most recreational users are absolutely respectful in their consumption of the plant, there are some long-standing prejudices against those who consume cannabis for non-medical reasons. Antiquated stereotypes of the anti-social pot smoker have unfortunately prevailed throughout America, even in the face of fast moving legalization of marijuana use across the country. Unfortunately, there is little that recreational users can do to dispel this stereotype, apart from being their usual respectful selves. However, medical marijuana users can do one very important thing to strongly identify themselves as such.

The only way for you to make sure you’re not confused for a recreational marijuana user is to get an official California medical marijuana card. This card is not only your passport to being afforded exclusive rights and privileges associated with MMJ card ownership, but it will also show dispensary staff, doctors, and police that you’re not a recreational marijuana user, and that your need to consume the plant is more important than simply to have a good time.

A California medical marijuana card is small and compact, meaning it’s handy to be carried wherever you go – we recommend that you always keep it in your wallet. There is no point in keeping your MMJ card at home as you’ll get no use out of it there. If you get stopped by the police and have an unlawful amount of marijuana on you for a recreational user, you’ll need to have your MMJ card ready to present to the officer to prove your innocence. Likewise, when you’re in the dispensary, you won’t be afforded the perks of having a cannabis card if you don’t have the card in question with you. As recreational marijuana use has just been legalized in California, budtenders and police officers will allow no leeway when it comes to excusing you for not carrying your MMJ card.

Don’t get caught out without an MMJ card – jump online today to acquire one!

Now that you realise how important it is to acquire an official California medical marijuana card, here’s the step-by-step process you take to get one. Thankfully, getting an MMJ card is really easy and can be done online from the comfort of your own home. Being able to get one remotely is very important to some MMJ card carriers, as they can find themselves homebound due to their illness.

Once you have opened the MMJ Recs webpage and chosen what plan you want to go with, you’ll be asked to complete a short and uninvasive questionnaire about your ailment. It should only take you a few minutes to fill out this questionnaire.

After you fill out the questionnaire, you’ll be connected to a state-licensed doctor through our HIPAA telemedicine platform. All of the doctors completing online consultations for us are state-licensed, as these are the only people who can give a California medical marijuana card recommendation. Once you’re connected, you’ll begin your online consultation with the physician. The doctor will give you a full medical evaluation in order to determine your suitability for the MMJ card program. This evaluation will consist of a series of questions about your medical history, your ailment, and your need to get an MMJ card. The consultation is quick and invasive and should last no longer than 20 minutes.

If the MMJ Recs doctor thinks that you’re a suitable candidate for a California medical marijuana card, they’ll inform you there and then and you’ll be emailed your MMJ recommendation straight away. This recommendation can be used immediately at a Californian medical marijuana dispensary. The original embossed recommendation will be posted to you within two working days. When this arrives you can use it to apply for your state-issued MMJ card from the California Department of Public Health.

Your card affords you important benefits that you just won’t get as a merely recreational user.

Not only will owning an MMJ card differentiate you from recreational users, it will also allow you to avail of certain perks and privileges that are only afforded to MMJ card carriers. Though everyone can now buy marijuana in the state of California, medical marijuana card carriers will be exempt from paying retail sales tax at the point of purchase. This can add up to a massive saving for a consistent, long term medical marijuana user. As well as being exempt from the dreaded sales tax, you’ll be able to be in possession of much higher quantities of marijuana that your recreational counterparts. Under the new law, recreational marijuana users will only be allowed to possess up to 1oz. of the plant, whereby MMJ card carriers can be in possession of up to 8oz. These are only some of the many benefits of always having your medical marijuana card close to hand.

Now you know that the only way to make sure you’re not confused for a recreational marijuana user is to carry an official California medical marijuana card. If you have a need for medical marijuana, but don’t yet have an MMJ card, get in touch with us today and we’ll start you off on your medical marijuana journey.

A History of California MMJ Policies (And What the Future Might Hold)

California might just be the leading medical marijuana state in the country. It has consistently been ahead of the curve when it comes to marijuana legislature, both recreational and medical, and its liberal approach to the medicine has no doubt eased many patients’ suffering in the 21 years it’s been legalized. As the number of states who have legalized MMJ tips over the halfway mark (29 and counting), the question is, will California retain its frontrunner position as the leading state in the medical marijuana arena? And what exactly does the future hold at this critical juncture in marijuana law, when the state’s government tries to introduce a recreational rollout against the well-established and successful California MMJ program?

California’s liberal leanings towards marijuana started way back in 1975, when it was among the first states to decriminalize the drug, under the Moscone Act. In 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger added further measures to decriminalization in the form of State Senate Bill 1449, which further reduced the charge of possession on one ounce of cannabis or less, levelling it with an infraction, which constitutes a small fine and no court appearance.

MMJ Recs - Californian Highway

California has always paved the way when it comes to MMJ legislation and progress.

The 1975 decriminalization program paved the way for the California MMJ bill to be passed in 1996. Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, passed with a narrow 55% majority, making California the first state to legalize medical marijuana for people suffering from cancer, AIDS, migraines glaucoma, arthritis, and other chronic illnesses, demonstrating a remarkable range of qualifying conditions, even back in 1996. Over the years, the wording surrounding this law has been strengthened and clarified, and in 2010, the limit of possession on medical marijuana was lifted after the California Supreme Court ruled in People vs. Kelly. The key wording now lists a number of conditions, followed by the phrase, “and any other condition for which marijuana provides relief.” While other states have faltered in their ascribing of qualifying conditions, California has made the medicine accessible to every single patient who can possibly benefit from it, and in turn has reduced the pressure on doctors, who may worry about breaking the law if their patient’s illness doesn’t adhere to the qualifying conditions.

The passing of Proposition 215  was a watershed moment in the history of medical marijuana, and paved the way for many other states to follow in California’s footsteps. In the intervening 21 years, as a further 28 states have come on board the MMJ train, California has never wavered in its commitment to its program, and has gone to great lengths to implement a successful dispensary rollout across the state. The result is a program which is much more progressive than many other states, including the likes of New York, which implemented a surprisingly regressive MMJ bill in 2014.

Under Proposition 215, patients with a physician’s recommendation, and their primary caregivers, are allowed to cultivate their own strains of MMJ, and as an alternative, SB 420 allows patients to come together in collectives to grow their own medicine. The amount of medical marijuana grown must be in concordance with the size of the collective, and growth that exceeds this number is still liable for prosecution. However, this setup is set to change at the end of 2018, and all collectives must be licenced within the state. This gives patients a large range of options for growing and acquiring their medicine, and makes access easy for any patients that wants (or needs) to avail of the drug.

MMJ Recs - San Francisco Skyline

With changes afoot for both recreational and medical marijuana, what does the future hold for California?

On January 9th 2016, California voted to legalize recreational marijuana. Although they’re not the first state to do this, they have long been proponents and advocates of marijuana in general, so it came as little surprise to most people that they were among the frontrunners to legalize. Many people wondered how the recreational program would line up against the well-established California MMJ program, and indeed, that is the question that dominates conversations about the future of marijuana in the Golden State.

California has a lead-in time of 14 months to roll out their recreational program, with recreational marijuana becoming legal on the 1st January 2018. However, this proved to be too little time to completely overhaul a previously underground and decidedly massive industry; as it stands, it is actually impossible to purchase recreational marijuana anywhere in California, and that looks to be the case for some time.

A medical marijuana card is still the best way to procure the medicine in 2018, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Just because both forms of marijuana are legal, it doesn’t mean that MMJ will become obsolete; in fact, it’s quite the contrary. The government actually imposed sales tax rebates on California MMJ when they passed the recreational law, renewing their commitment to the long-established MMJ program and providing patients with a cheaper cost for their medicine in the process. Ultimately, California looks set to continue being the shining example of MMJ progressiveness that it has always been.

California Vs. Colorado: Which Is The Best MMJ State?

When it comes to the continuing legalization of marijuana, in both its medical and recreational forms, two states are leading the charge, and have been for some time. They are California and Colorado, two major game-changers when it comes to medical marijuana, who adopted the beneficial legalization policies very early, and set a precedence that 27 other states have chosen to follow in the years leading up to 2018. What the future will bring for MMJ is unclear, but the ideal is to have all 50 states on board, with medical marijuana fully legalized across the whole of the United States. The remaining 21 states who have yet to sign MMJ into legislation would do well to look to California and Colorado as shining examples. But how do the two MMJ titans stack up against each other?

Let’s take a look at California first. The West Coast state has the honour of being the first state to legalize medical marijuana in legislation, during a critical vote on Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act, which took place all the way back in 1996. Since that time, governments in California have been working to redefine and stabilize the legalization, resulting in one of the most liberal MMJ states in the country, a distinction California wears with pride. When contrasted with some of the more restrictive MMJ programs of other states, like New York (which, despite having a liberal-leaning reputation, surprisingly adopted an extremely harsh MMJ legislature), California’s progressive stance stands out even more.

California is leading the charge when it comes to marijuana legalization.

There are MMJ clinics and dispensaries all around the state, serving a large number of people suffering from a diverse number of illnesses. The wide range of qualifying conditions outlined in Proposition 215, most notably “chronic pain,” which refers to a wide number of patients’ grievances, has allowed people all over the state to benefit from medical marijuana’s therapeutic effects. As MMJ has been proven to reduce pain in many areas, resulting from many different conditions, the qualifying condition of “chronic pain” is an extremely important one, and is a caveat that many other states would do well to implement in their own legislature, both present and future.

On November 9, 2016, the day after a tumultuous presidential election, California became the eighth state to legalize recreational marijuana. However, the law only came into being on January 1, 2018, and as the state quickly discovered, 14 months was not enough lead in time to fully implement the legalization of a widespread, previously underground industry. Cities and counties up and down the state were not ready to sell recreational marijuana by January 1, despite significant progress being made in the rollout. For now, and for the foreseeable future, a medical marijuana card is still required to avail of marijuana in California, primarily because it’s not available anywhere else as it stands.

In light of the lengthy recreational legalization process, and as a nod to the state’s significant and well-established MMJ community, the Californian government introduced a measure whereby MMJ patients don’t pay any sales tax whatsoever on their medicine. This is a significant incentive and a show of commitment to the long-running MMJ program set up in 1996, and proves that the government are focused on incorporating recreational marijuana harmoniously alongside medical marijuana.

Colorado was hot on the heels of California when it came to legalizing MMJ, passing its own bill, Amendment 20, in 2000. Both Colorado and California decriminalized marijuana way back in 1975, so have always been at the forefront of marijuana laws in the U.S. In 2012, Colorado continued that trend by becoming the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, a revolutionary move that paved the way for marijuana legislation across the country, and also made America’s various MMJ programs more robust by legitimizing MMJ in the eyes of many citizens.

Colorado follows closely in California’s footsteps with its progressive MMJ policies.

Like California, Colorado medical marijuana is taxed differently to recreational marijuana, so it is still extremely beneficial to own a Colorado medical marijuana card. Also, the selection offered to medical marijuana patients is far superior than the recreational spectrum, and will be tailor-made for a patient’s specific condition, making them the optimum choice for marijuana taken medicinally. There is also the option of edibles for MMJ patients, which is not afforded to recreational users. For both states, the option of a medical marijuana card, even in the face of recreational legalization, is still the optimum choice for patients suffering from marijuana-treatable conditions.  MMJ cards can be acquired over the internet, via telemedicine, and don’t take long to arrive at your door.

When it comes to differentiating the two pro-marijuana states, there’s little difference when it comes to their MMJ programs. Both have tax rebates stemming from the legalization of recreational marijuana, and both have a range of qualifying conditions that allow a wide variety of patients from across the state to avail of the many benefits of MMJ. No doubt both California and Colorado will continue to bear the torch for medical marijuana in the years to come.

If You Don’t Have An MMJ Card, You’ll Have To Pay Sales Tax When Marijuana Is Legalized In 2018

Thanks to the impending introduction of Proposition 64, the Sunshine State will soon see the statewide legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes. Though this is a truly joyous and progressive event for the state, it has left some MMJ card holders scratching their heads with the question: “Do I still need to keep my cannabis card if it’ll be freely available for all?” The answer is yes, absolutely!

The primary reason for this is because qualified patients who possess a legitimate California medical marijuana card will be exempt from retail tax when purchasing marijuana or marijuana products. This is on the condition that they – or their primary caregiver – present their MMJ card at the point of purchase. If you’re a consistent, long term medical marijuana user, this will save you a lot of money compared to paying recreational prices.

As many people with an MMJ card are limited in their ability to work, this is a huge relief as it means these users will see more money in their back pocket at the end of the day. Though some recreational users may deem this unfair, it is important to keep the lines between recreational and medical users clearly delineated to clearly indicate one group’s need for it taking precedence over the other’s.

If you own a California medical marijuana card, you can save yourself some money on sales tax.

Not only will your California medical marijuana card allow you to buy cheaper cannabis, it’ll also allow you to buy more of it than your recreational counterparts. MMJ card carriers will be allowed to possess a whopping 8 oz. of the cannabis plant, whereas recreational users will only be allowed to possess 1 oz. As well as this, unconventional methods of consuming cannabis like tinctures and topicals can be purchased at much stronger concentrations by those with an MMJ card as opposed to those who don’t have one.

Another good reason not to throw away your trusty California medical marijuana card is that you’ll still be able to consume in public places while carrying it, whereas recreational users won’t. Proposition 64 does not explicitly allow for recreational users to smoke or vape weed in public, but if you have your MMJ card on you, you’ll still be able to consume wherever the smoking of tobacco is allowed.

As a prerequisite for having a cannabis card is having a specifically diagnosed ailment, it’s important that you consult with a doctor before you start to consume. If you decide to forego an MMJ card in favor of just acquiring recreational marijuana instead, you’re denying yourself the opportunity to talk through your ailment with a medically qualified doctor, and more importantly, you can’t talk to that same doctor about what strains are best for treating your specific ailment. Though dispensary budtenders might know a bit about what strains are best for relaxing, they will not have the same medical knowledge of the plant, and therefore will not be sufficiently qualified to give you strain advice. This could lead you to fruitlessly trying out strain after strain until maybe you’ll get it right. Avoid the headache and stick to the medical route.

Hold onto your card so you can still utilize its benefits in 2018!

As different cities and counties within California will be allowing different types of sales, you may find yourself in an area that is still only permitting medical marijuana sales – another reason to keep your MMJ card! These more conservative counties will only allow weed sales through medical dispensaries. These dispensaries will strictly only have medical licenses and therefore will only be able to serve marijuana to those with a valid California medical marijuana card.

If you’d like to avail of tax-free medical marijuana once legalization is enforced, here’s what you have to do. Though you can go to a bricks-and-mortar doctor’s office to get a card, it’s a whole lot easier to buy a medical marijuana card online through MMJ Recs.

You’ll be asked to fill out a short questionnaire about your ailment and your need for an MMJ card. Once this is done, you’ll begin your online consultation with one of our licensed health professionals, who’ll give you a full evaluation over Skype from the comfort of your own home.

This evaluation will take no longer than ten minutes and will consist of the practitioner asking you some non-invasive questions about your qualifying condition and your medical history. You’ll also be asked why you think having an MMJ card and consuming medical cannabis will help you. Following this, the practitioner will assess your need for a medical marijuana card and you’ll be told then and there if you’re eligible. If you are, you’ll be sent your MMJ card recommendation straight away.

We hope this has cleared up a few worries for you. Now you know that it is positively, absolutely, conclusively a bad idea to get rid of your California medical marijuana card once legalization is implemented. If you’re still unsure about your options, or you’re yet to get your own MMJ card, get in touch with us today and we’ll help access all the amazing benefits that come with owning your own medical marijuana card.

Why California MMJ Patients Will Save Thousands Of Dollars A Year In Sales Tax With An MMJ Card

The stigma attached to marijuana is beginning to fade as more and more people experience the benefits this controversial herb has to offer. For instance, it can act as a pain reliever by relaxing and controlling muscle spasms in people with multiple sclerosis, it can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease as well as control epileptic seizures and treat glaucoma. The list goes on, and if you feel you could benefit from medical marijuana yourself and you’re lucky enough to live in one to the 29 states in the US that have legalized it, it’s time to go to your doctor for an MMJ card.

The process in obtaining a medical marijuana recommendation is straightforward and doing so means that you will be able to go to dispensaries for advice and obtain medical marijuana for your health issues. The reason behind getting an MMJ card is because under federal law, marijuana is still illegal, therefore a recommendation from your doctor or physician is required in order to prove that you need the medicine to treat your condition. Your doctor must be licensed to recommend medical marijuana and they will firstly discuss with you whether this will be the best treatment to help you if you suffer from illnesses such as AIDS, cancer, or chronic pain. Once it has been decided, they will then be able to provide a written and signed certification. Next, the patient must register with the department of health in their state and medical marijuana program unit. Upon registration with your photo ID, you will then receive your MMJ card, which provides various benefits.

MMJ - flowering marijuana plant

Medical marijuana has many benefits for those suffering from chronic illness or pain.

One of the advantages of holding a MMJ card is that you will be able to grow your own plant (up to six!). In addition to this, you are allowed to carry a larger amount compared to somebody without a recommendation, and you won’t face any problems as a potential dealer if you run into law enforcers. Furthermore, come January 2018, the legalization of recreational marijuana is to come in place. What does this mean for people using marijuana for medical purposes though? It is advised to still have your MMJ card with you for convenience, as the new regulations will not be fully operational immediately. More importantly, an even better reason to keep hold of your MMJ card is due to the potential of saving a good amount of money in terms of sales tax. A number of places charge additional tax on recreational marijuana, whereas sales tax is exempt on marijuana products such as edibles, concentrates, and topical treatments. This means when you take into account the average cost of cannabis, the cost of application, renewal, doctor’s appointment and MMJ card, you can save some sweet cash if you’re using at least around four ounces per year (approximately $238 annually). Moreover, in California, the Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program offers a tax discount to card holders who have a recommendation.

As of January 1st 2018, the laws are set to change as the legalization of recreational marijuana takes place, but given the benefits of having a recommendation, it is a good idea to have an MMJ card – especially if you feel you need cannabis for health purposes as opposed to recreational purposes.

MMJ Recs - Joint

If you have an MMJ card in California, you can save money in sales tax.

Overall, not only are there a number of proven benefits to using marijuana to treat various ailments and conditions from depression to cancer, but obtaining a medical marijuana card through your doctor or medical practitioner could ultimately help you save money on tax. Being in possession of an MMJ card also means you can carry more medical cannabis compared to a recreational user and you will have access to different forms of the medicine such as tinctures, vaporizers, sprays, and patches. You will also have the advantage of having access to professional advice from either your doctor or from people who work at the dispensaries as opposed to a budtender.

If you’re looking to try medical marijuana to help with your health issues, the best way is to get a recommendation from a medical professional as it meets the requirements of the various regulations, but additionally, it will help you save money on sales tax. It is worth noting, however, that in the New Year 2018, tax compliance among medical marijuana businesses may increase as California’s legalization of recreational use of cannabis takes place. Nonetheless, having an MMJ card not only gives you extra options as there are over 3000 dispensaries that sell medical cannabis in California, but you will also have access to a wider variety of products. Also, you do not have to travel to a doctor to get a recommendation if you have access to telemedicine, because then everything can be done online. But one of the bigger advantages here has to be the fact that you will be saving a lot of money given the tax benefits compared to somebody without an MMJ card.

Marijuana Sales Tax: How California MMJ Card Holders Can Save Money After January 1st

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.

MMJ Recs - Marijuana Plant

If you hold a medical marijuana card in California, you’ll be exempt from paying sales tax.

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.

MMJ - medical cannabis

Be smart when you purchase your MMJ – use your card and save money!

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.

MMJ Patients Don’t Pay Sales Tax: Why You Still Need A Medical Marijuana Card In California After January 1st

As medical marijuana usage spreads across the U.S. (29 states and counting), recreational marijuana is following, hot on the heels of its medically utilized cousin. Seven states and Washington D.C. have currently legalized the drug, with Maine set to follow suit and become the eighth, potentially very soon. A key state that has pioneered both recreational medical marijuana card usage is California; it was the first to legalize MMJ way back in 1996, and last year, on November 9th, the state voted to legalize recreational usage, the day after a tumultuous presidential election.

As a concession to the long-standing MMJ community in the state, from November 9th, 2016, qualified patients or their primary caregivers were exempted from retail sales tax on medical cannabis, medical cannabis concentrate, edible medical cannabis products, or topical cannabis if they present a valid medical marijuana identity card (or MMIC for short) issued by CDPH at the time of purchase. The state-wide rollout of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, commonly known as Proposition 64, is due to kick off on January 1st, 2018 – a mere two weeks from now. The state has had 13 months to prepare itself for the inauguration of recreational marijuana. The question is: is it ready?

MMJ Recs - Marijuana Plant

Medical and recreational marijuana will soon be legal in the state of California.

In short, the answer is no. At least not completely. California is a huge state, and while there has been significant headway made in the rollout, most cities and counties won’t be ready to sell recreational marijuana by January 1st. A lot of the hold-up is due to the systematic regulation of what was very recently an unregulated, billion dollar industry; naturally this will take some time, and many locales are estimating an extra six to 18 months  to get the systems in place. However, as of January 1st, both medical and recreational marijuana will be legal in California, leading many existing patients to ask a very pertinent question: will a medical marijuana card still be needed following legalization?

The answer to that question is a resounding “yes,” for two main reasons. The first is that, ideally, your medical marijuana will be a specific strain that is suited and prescribed especially for your specific condition. Therefore, the only way you can guarantee a continued supply of your specific medicine during the big changeover is with a medical marijuana identification card. No one knows exactly how long it’ll be until every area of California is up and running selling recreational marijuana. So on the first day of 2018, keep to your tradition and acquire your MMJ the usual way: with your medical marijuana card in hand.

The second big reason is that you won’t be able to get recreational marijuana anywhere in California for the foreseeable future. MMJ dispensaries are only licensed to be just that: medical marijuana dispensaries. They won’t just start selling recreational marijuana, and you will always require an MMJ card to purchase the drug from their outlets. Therefore, you can happily conclude that the only way to get MMJ in California for much of 2018 will be with that all-important card. In an ideal word, recreational and medical marijuana would be available hand-in-hand from January 1st; however, that’s just not feasible, and the sad truth is that the state is woefully unprepared for a mass rollout of recreational marijuana on that date, despite the fact that it will technically be legal to sell it.

MMJ Recs - Marijuana Sapling

If you’ve already got an MMJ card in California, you’ll still need it after the new legislation is rolled out.

Another question that many citizens across the state are asking is, “If recreational marijuana is so close, do I need to bother picking up a medical marijuana card?” Again, the answer to this is a resounding “yes,” mainly for the two reasons listed above. But another perk of registering for a medical marijuana card is that you’ll pay no sales tax on the medicine. This is a major benefit, and one that should be factored in to each individual’s decision about MMJ. Proposition 64 does not in any way abolish the state’s medical marijuana program – it simply makes a couple of amendments to it. The California Department of Public Health will continue to produce the cards and maintain a registry of patients.

Unfortunately, the situation as it stands is extremely uncertain, and will remain so for some time. No one in the state, from the government to the sellers, knows exactly what form recreational marijuana will eventually take, or how long it’ll be until it is properly regulated. There is some concern over a potential black market inflation because of the stall, which comes with the added disadvantage of slowing the whole thing down further. Currently (and for the foreseeable future), the only legal, advantageous, and ultimately secure way to avail of medical marijuana in California is via a medical marijuana identity card. This will ensure each patient gets the uninterrupted medicine they require from state-licenced dispensaries, and will continue to provide them with MMJ’s many proven benefits.

Will the MMJ Revolution Spread to Non-MMJ States?

The medical marijuana revolution is well and truly upon America. It started with a trickle, and little by little grew into a full-on flood; in 2017, 29 states are MMJ legal, and many more look set to follow over the coming months and years. The medical marijuana cause is bolstered by the increased acceptance of recreational marijuana in certain parts of the country. It stands to reason that if people are being allowed personal use, patients in need of its therapeutic benefits become impossible to deny. Although they are two separate strands of the same essential argument, MMJ stands to gain the most ground as the debate continues across America.

So where did MMJ start? Well, basically, medical marijuana has been around for a long time, and it wasn’t always considered an illegal substance. American medical journals dating all the way back from the late 18th century recommend using hemp seeds and roots for medicinal practices. 1914 was the first time the substance was criminalized, and any gains made in the subsequent decades were derailed by the Reagan in the 1970s, when he came down hard on drugs. Since that time, however, the trend has shifted towards relaxation. In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana, and by 2009, twelve more states had followed its lead. Fast forward to 2017, and 29 states have gone green for medical cannabis, as well as the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. West Virginia is the latest state to join the revolution, with the remaining 21 still to follow.

MMJ Recs - Joint

Will medical cannabis be made legal in all 50 states?

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, though. 1996 to 2017 is 21 years, which is a long time to cover just over half the country. Judging by those statistics, we can estimate that all 50 states will be MMJ legal by 2038, which seems a crazy amount of time to wait for what is tried and tested medical care. Also, while California pioneered the medicine with little resistance, and had some of the most liberal MMJ law in the country, the same rules don’t apply in every state.

A surprising battle was fought in the traditionally liberal stronghold of New York, for instance. The Governor there, Andrew Cuomo, has long held a conservative stance on medical cannabis, and was hesitant to bring in a blanket MMJ law such as California’s without curtailing it with some limiting caveats. The debate took up most of 2014, and although the MMJ law eventually passed, it was not without some seriously restrictive measures. One of the biggest issues is that New York does not allow patients to smoke medical marijuana, which is proven to be the most effective method of administering the medicine. There is also a heavy restriction on the amount of dispensaries that can sell MMJ, which limits the amount of patients that can be served at any one time.

Upon its legalization, there were also very few qualifying conditions in the New York bill. Qualifying conditions are important, because the more specific they are, the more doctors are limited (by law) in who they can administer the medicine to. At the advent of the bill in NY, only severe conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s, and ALS were approved to be treated by MMJ. This is problematic because one of the conditions that most benefits from the drug is ‘chronic pain’, which can occur separate from any named disease. This also lets doctors be much freer about who they can prescribe too. After much campaigning, ‘chronic pain’ was added to the list of New York MMJ qualifying conditions, but the MMJ cause in the East Coast state is still on very thin ice, with some maintaining that it has been designed to fail from the start.

MMJ Recs - Marijuana Plant

MMJ laws differ significantly from state to state.

New York is just one example of a state where MMJ law has had (and continues to have) birthing problems. Unfortunately, not every state agrees with the core tenets of MMJ practice, and so there are wildly varying caveats to each state’s bill. The federal government can’t  make one definitive ruling on MMJ law, so until then, we’re stuck with going on a state-by-state basis, with all the red tape and bureaucratic back-and-forth that entails.

Another debilitating factor is that many of the hardline conservative states such as Alabama are proving to be a very tough sell indeed when it comes to MMJ. ‘Legalizing drugs’ in even the vaguest sense (even if it benefited sick people) would seemingly represent a major corruption of values. Though marijuana possession has been gradually decriminalized in Alabama, those in the know suggest that it will likely be one of the last states to make medical cannabis legal. Ultimately, it’s a matter of time and waiting, however frustrating that may be. The MMJ revolution will eventually spread to all 50 states of the U.S.A.; but how long it takes to do that is currently anyone’s guess.

How to Grow Medical Marijuana in California

More and more California MMJ card carriers are cultivating their own plants at home, and it’s easy to see why. Though most cannabis card holders are likely to get their main supply from their local dispensary, it’s a useful – and fun – way to make sure you’re never caught without the wonder plant.

Before you consider home cultivation, it’s prudent that you get an MMJ card. This card will allow you to legally access medical marijuana – and it’s seeds – to treat your ailment with. The process of getting your MMJ card is quick and easy and can be done online from the comfort of your own home. While some people may question this ease of access, it can make a life changing difference to someone who has an ailment that leaves them housebound.

Getting Your MMJ Card

When applying for your California medical marijuana license you’ll first be asked to fill out a short, simple questionnaire on your ailment and how it affects your life. When you complete this questionnaire you’ll start your ‘virtual doctor’s visit’ via our HIPAA telemedicine platform. This ‘visit’ is an online consultation with a state licensed physician. Your appointed doctor will give you a full medical evaluation, where you’ll be asked a few non-invasive questions about your medical history and your ailments. This consultation should take you no longer than 20 minutes.

If the doctor thinks your suitable for a medical marijuana card, they’ll tell you there and then and you’ll be emailed your MMJ card recommendation straight away. When you receive this, it can be printed off immediately and brought to an MMJ dispensary for use. Your physical embossed copy of the recommendation will arrive in a few short days.

Know the Medical Marijuana Laws

MMJ Recs - trough in soil

If you’re going to grow MMJ in California, make sure you know the rules and limitations of Proposition 64.

It’s important that if you intend to grow medical marijuana, that you’re au fait with the laws surrounding cannabis cultivation with an MMJ card. Proposition 64, which came into effect on January 1 of this year, made home cultivation legal – within certain limits. Under this law, California medical marijuana card carriers may possess up to one ounce of the plant and can grow six mature, or twelve immature plants of their own at home. These laws apply to everyone aged 21 and over.

As home grow laws are still in their infancy, they’re not too fraught with taxes and restrictions yet, but as the medical marijuana program evolves, this may change. Make sure to check with your local authority before you get your hands dirty to ensure you’re growing within the limits of the law.

Roadblocks to Growing MMJ

Unfortunately, even with the promotion of home cultivation as a supply solution for MMJ card carriers across California, there are still some roadblocks to accessing equipment or information. As marijuana possession is illegal at a federal level, online retailers are reluctant to sell MMJ growing equipment for fear of legal repercussions.

Similarly, garden centers and nurseries have in some cases been withholding on information on how best to grow the plant, regardless of whether the customer has a medical marijuana card or not. As attitudes and laws surrounding MMJ further relax, this problem should become near obsolete.

Best Practices for Growing Medical Marijuana in California

MMJ Recs - Glove on wooden post

If you’re going to grow MMJ to help with your ailment or condition, know the best practices so you can get the best results.

Like with any other plant, it’s important to know the growing habits of MMJ before you plant your first seeds. Unusually, medical marijuana can exhibit periods of bloom in total darkness, but it’s best to give it plenty of light, water and fertilizer.

Medical marijuana responds very well to fertilizer, especially during the vegetative period of growth. During this period, use a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen to stimulate rapid growth. When the plant flowers, use a fertilizer that’s high in phosphate and potassium to encourage the growth of large, lush buds. Unlike other plants, MMJ’s response to fertilizer is so strong that the more you give it, the bigger and lusher it will grow.

Following the flowering stage of the medical marijuana life cycle, it will sadly die, and the whole growing process should begin again.

Depending on where you live in California, there are different rules and regulations about where you can grow MMJ. These rules are decided by your local authority, so it’s important to get in touch with them before you plant your seeds.

Though outdoor cultivation is easier and less expensive, a lot of local authorities limit growing to indoors. Unfortunately there has been no confirmation as to why that is, but it’s assumed that it’s because some neighbors don’t like the sight – or smell – of the plant.

If your local authority allows it, grow your medical marijuana outside. If your plants are exposed to the sun all day long, and the dark all night long, they should experience rapid growth and start to bloom big, beautiful flowers in no time. To get the same effect through indoor growing, you’ll have to invest in a indoor grow light.

Take your time to choose what MMJ strain you want to grow. It’s best to cultivate a strain that will effectively treat the ailment outlined on your cannabis card. If you’re not sure of what strain will work best to treat your illness, check out our guide here.

Although home growing is now legal in California for medical marijuana card carriers, it’s still inexplicably illegal at a federal level in the United States. Thankfully, the federal government adopts a laissez faire attitude on this topic, so it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll get in trouble with the feds for doing a little home cultivation.

If you feel like your green fingers are up for a gardening challenge, apply for your California MMJ card today and get digging!

Will California Always Be the Biggest MMJ State?

California is a trendsetter in many ways. It’s a center for entertainment and culture in the US, it’s full of the latest advances in technology and it has a massive start-up culture. Its weather is fantastic, the agricultural landscape is active and thriving and there exists the most liberal and exciting medical marijuana laws in the country.

California was the first state in the US to legislate for medical marijuana. Patients had been using marijuana for medical reasons illegally for a long time, and anecdotal evidence suggested that it provided excellent results for people suffering from a wide variety of different conditions.

History of Medical Marijuana Laws in California

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Many medical marijuana professionals in California supported Proposition 215 because they had seen good results for patients with conditions like cancer, HIV and AIDS.

Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, was passed by 55.6% in 1996, which allowed for the use of marijuana for medical reasons for numerous conditions. The Yes campaign was spearheaded by marijuana activists from San Francisco who had noticed that marijuana had helped many suffering from HIV/AIDS in the gay community.

As well as anecdotal evidence from users of medical marijuana, many medical professionals also publicly supported Proposition 215, stating that they had also seen good results for patients suffering from conditions like cancer, which was far less stigmatized than HIV/AIDS at the time.

After the passing of Proposition 215, California was the first state to have legislated for medical marijuana. This presented problems at a federal level, as marijuana was and still is, considered a controlled and illegal substance. California held strong on its right to legislate for treatment for its citizens and the program has run successfully since 1996, inspiring other states to bring in legislation for medical marijuana.

However, there have been some DEA raids on dispensaries and farms in California, and the Supreme Court has ruled twice that federal law can overrule state law in some instances.

Despite some opposition from federal sources, patients have been happily accessing medical marijuana in California since 1996, and it is clearly the capital of medical marijuana usage in the United States.

Accessing MMJ in California

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Accessing MMJ in California is much easier than in other states because there are many more medical cannabis dispensaries and open laws.

As well as its early adoption, it is also very easy to access MMJ in California. The first step is to organize a visit with a medical professional who can assert your need for medical marijuana. This does not have to be in person and you can actually do a consultation online. The medical professional will ask you about your condition and suggest ways to treat it with medical marijuana.

If you are deemed a suitable candidate, you will be sent a stamped, dated and signed letter, which you will be able to bring to any dispensary to avail of any form or strain of medical marijuana that you think will be able to help you.

Upon visiting your local dispensary, you will be able to speak to the people working there, who will be able to help point you in the right direction for the best treatments for you. There are many different forms of medical marijuana, as well as different strains. Strains contain varying levels of THC and PCP, which offer different types of relief – depending on your condition.

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Choosing the right medical marijuana strain will offer different types of relief and effects, depending on your condition.

You can choose to buy joints to smoke, edibles like candies or baked goods, lotions and salves to rub into your skin, tinctures, vape liquids… amongst many other forms of MMJ. The only limit is your imagination!

Medical Marijuana Conditions in California

California is also notable with its liberal medical marijuana laws for not placing limits on the conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana. In other states, such as New York, there is  a strictly regulated list of conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana, but this does not exist in California, which is great for citizens of the state.

Evidence suggests that there are a variety of conditions, both physical and mental, that can be successfully treated with medical marijuana. These include epilepsy, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, cancer, HIV/AIDS, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease – amongst many others.

For many patients, the fear of being rejected for medical marijuana treatment can be a big deterrent for seeking treatment, as well as the stigma of using marijuana for medical reasons. Due to the proliferation of medical marijuana in California, as well as its place in the state for over twenty years, these issues do not seem to affect patients in the Golden State.

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California continues to not only be a beautiful state to live in, but also the top state for medical marijuana use.

California is rightly lauded as a mecca for patients who need medical marijuana and has served as an inspiration for many states that have followed in its steps. Many patients have actually relocated to California for the sole reason of seeking treatment that they cannot access in more conservative states.

Californians are lucky to be able to access this treatment that should be available to all citizens, but the battle continues on at other state levels and federal levels to provide medical marijuana to all residents of the United States.

Visiting a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in California: All You Need to Know

Although medical marijuana cards have been in use in California for what seems like forever, it can still be intimidating as a new MMJ card holder to step into a dispensary for the first time. Even the most confident cannabis card carriers can find themselves to be a little nervous at the prospect of their first dispensary trip.

So what exactly does a new MMJ card holder need to know before they take their first steps into this bright new world? Let us enlighten you!

There are hundreds – if not thousands – of medical marijuana dispensaries in California, so choose your dispensary wisely. The quality of dispensaries differ greatly with significant disparities on price, selection and quality – depending on what dispensary you go to.

Do your homework and check out what dispensaries are available before you make the journey. You can find a list of all of California’s medical marijuana dispensaries here.

Choose Your MMJ Dispensary Wisely

Dispensaries vary in function across California, with some choosing to focus on medical marijuana, some on recreational use and most focusing on a mixture of the two. Make sure to go to a medical marijuana dispensary or a hybrid dispensary, as staff in the recreational dispensary may not be trained to give you correct medical advice on suitable products.

If you elect to go to a hybrid medical recreational dispensary there will usually be two entrances: one labeled ‘medical entrance’ and the other labeled ‘recreational entrance’. Make sure that as a medical marijuana card holder you go through the medical entrance.

A Warm Welcome

When you get into the dispensary you’ll see a staff member seated behind a glass window in a waiting room. This is the person who you’ll show your medical marijuana card to. They’ll quickly appraise the card, make sure you’re the person who the MMJ card has been registered to, and then will grant you access to the main part of the dispensary where you’ll purchase your medical marijuana products.

Don’t forget to bring your MMJ card to the medical marijuana facility or you may just be window shopping!

It is absolutely imperative that you bring your California medical marijuana card with you when you visit the dispensary. Without your MMJ card, you will not be allowed access to the medical part of the dispensary and will not be allowed to purchase medical marijuana products.

While You Wait

Sometimes, you may be allowed immediate access to the main part of the dispensary, but know it is pretty common to have a short waiting period before you’re allowed in. This should last no more than 10-20 minutes. The purpose of this waiting time is to allow each patient ample time with the ‘budtender’, who will advise them on the best products to buy to treat their ailment.

While you wait, it’s a good idea to do a little research into exactly what you want to buy at the dispensary (if you haven’t already done this at home). Sure, browsing the entirety of the dispensary can be interesting but trust us, the dispensary’s budtender will seriously appreciate it if you’re au fait with the product selection before you arrive.

Nowadays, a lot of California dispensaries have online menus, so these are worth checking out in advance of your trip.

Knowing is Half the Battle

Each case in a California MMJ dispensary will be well labeled, but unless you’re clued in as to what strain you’re looking for, these labels will look like gibberish (we’re looking at you Golden Goat!). Know the difference between your indicas and your sativas before you get to the dispensary or know exactly what strain of MMJ you’re looking for. If you’re not sure what strain would be best to treat your ailment, check out our handy guide here.

The great thing about a medical marijuana dispensary is that it has well-trained staff who can help answer any questions or concerns.

Knowing what you want doesn’t mean just knowing what strains you want – you should also know through what method you want to consume. Are you looking for some tasty edibles? Some aromatic topicals? Or just a few vape cartridge refills? By knowing exactly what you’re looking for in advance of your visit, your dispensary experience will be as seamless as possible.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

If you’re not sure exactly what you’re after make sure to ask the budtender for their advice. These people are friendly trained professionals and it’s their job to make your dispensary experience as comfortable as possible. They’ll know what strains or products are best suited for your needs and will deliver their advice with a smile to put you at ease. At a dispensary there is no such thing as a stupid question so ask as many as you need to!

One Last Reminder

As well as remembering to bring your medical marijuana card with you for your trip to the dispensary, remember to bring cash with you, too. Though most dispensaries are starting to become more card-friendly, a lot of them are still strictly cash only establishments. Avoid the stress of being caught penniless by making sure you have enough cash to make your MMJ purchases that day.

Remember, every dispensary is different and it may take you a while to find the one that’s a good fit for you. Shop around your locality and choose your dispensary wisely, basing your decision on which one makes you the most comfortable.

Why an MMJ Card Will Probably Always Be Necessary in the US

Medical marijuana has a long and fascinating history in the United States of America. It was first legalized in California in 1996, and since then, 29 states across the country have embraced the legalization of it by residents owning an MMJ card. It’s been a tough road, but if the trend continues, more and more states across the country will vote the medicine though in due course; many of the twenty nine swinging to legalization in the last few years.

The process by which a patient can avail of medical marijuana differs in each state, but one thing that unites all medical marijuana procedure is the crucial MMJ card; you have to procure one if you want to avail of the medicine.

These MMJ cards can be obtained from a registered healthcare professional like your GP, or even online, from professional health outlets on the internet. It’s quite a straightforward process in most states to sign up for the MMJ card, and it doesn’t take too long to start using medical marijuana legally.

But interestingly, running parallel to the country-wide debate about MMJ legality is a debate about recreational marijuana legality. Indeed, Colorado, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and California have all legalized recreational MJ as well as medical MJ; the question now becomes: If marijuana is legal, do patients have to bother with an MMJ card at all?

MMJ Laws and Medical Marijuana Cards

The good thing about an MMJ card is that it can be obtained from a registered healthcare professional and even online.

Like every controversial topic, the answer isn’t straightforward. In Colorado for example, the answer is no and yes. You aren’t required to have an MMJ card to buy marijuana in the state of Colorado; anyone over the age of 21 is allowed to purchase the drug for recreational use (which of course, can include medical by default) in doses of 1/4 ounces maximum.

However, without an MMJ card, you can only purchase marijuana from recreational stores and not the licensed dispensaries. So the onus is on you to ‘self-medicate’ as it were, and forgo the insight and advice that you might avail of at medical dispensaries.

California MMJ Laws

In California, the issue as it stands in mid-2017 is even more thorny. Cali legalized recreational marijuana last November 8th, on the same night that Donald Trump was voted President-elect. Some thought that they could throw their MMJ cards out of the window and immediately start availing of recreational marijuana, but things didn’t prove to be so simple.

Though the recreational bill passed, it’s going to take the guts of a year to set up, with the first marijuana being projected to be sold legally in early 2018. So until that time, it’s MMJ cards all the way; though when the law does kick in down in California, the same logic as Colorado applies. It’s much better to have an MMJ card and avail of the medical practicalities that one affords, rather than dish out recreational doses to yourself.

What Cannabis Cards Are Used For

An MMJ card is strictly for state-use only, and is exclusively available to those residing in the state in question. All you need is a qualifying condition as described by each state’s respective MMJ bill, proof of residence in the state, and a doctor who can sign your forms and validate you.

If you suffer from a serious condition, it is absolutely worth availing of an MMJ card, even if you live in a state where recreational marijuana is legal. This is one of the big reasons why an MMJ card will probably always be necessary in the U.S.; the fact that it’s used to treat such a large range of conditions – some which require large doses and some which require separate carers to procure or even home-grow medical marijuana for their patients.

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Medical marijuana cards will always be useful for those with qualifying conditions like anxiety, cancer, glaucoma and so much more.

This spectrum of ailments goes all the way from the vague and mild of ‘chronic pain’ (or in California’s exceptionally lax case, ‘any condition for which marijuana provides relief’) to the specific and severe of Parkinson’s or cancer.

When you’re dealing with that amount of ailments, you should absolutely consult with a doctor before procuring any medicine and get licensed up with a legitimate MMJ card. That way you know you’re benefitting the most from the medicine, rather than self-medicating with recreational stock.

It’s also useful to know what form to take MMJ in; smoking, oil and edible forms can all be prescribed and covered under an MMJ card. Again, your personal doctor is the best person to advise you.

So ultimately, for the eight states and counting that have legalized recreational marijuana, the question is not really ‘Will an MMJ card always be necessary?’ but something more like, ‘Am I better off with an MMJ card?’ The answer is almost always yes.

So if you live in a legalized state and suffer from a condition that you suspect MMJ can help with, then talk to your doctor as soon as you can about registering for a legitimate and simple-to-procure medical marijuana card.

3 Musicians Who Love Medical Cannabis

For better or worse, drugs have always been synonymous with the music industry. Some of the biggest acts in the world have confessed to being ‘inspired’ by various narcotics; The Beatles were on them, Pink Floyd were on them, Keith Richards is still on them. Out of all the drugs out there however, marijuana reigns supreme; it features all over the musical spectrum, from rap to psychedelic prog rock, and most musicians aren’t shy about professing their love for it. Some go the extra step, and become full on advocates for legalization; a select few are heavy proponents of medical marijuana, and have been furthering the MMJ cause in the public eye.

This kind of mainstream support for medical marijuana has certainly helped the cause, with some performers relentlessly campaigning for the drug over many years. The recent spate of MMJ legalization (29 states to date have legalized the medicine) is certainly a victory for advocates, and the trend looks set to continue over the coming months and years. Some musicians are advocates of marijuana in general – some specifically MMJ – and some even view the popularity of the drug as a premium business opportunity, lending their name to dispensaries and stains.

With all this celebrity endorsement in mind, we’re taking a look at three prominent musicians who’ve publicly endorsed or supported MMJ in the past, some of whom remain heavily involved in marijuana advocacy across the U.S. in 2017.

Melissa Etheridge

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American rock star Melissa Etheridge has been a fan of medical marijuana since she claims it helped her recover from breast cancer.

Singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge is one of the most outspoken proponents of MMJ, especially after she underwent a traumatic experience with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2004, Etheridge managed to beat the disease and is now completely cancer-free; she ascribes her recovery to her use of medical marijuana. She has since claimed that she believes everyone who uses marijuana ‘is doing so medicinally, whether they consider it so or not’.

Last year, Etheridge put her money where her mouth is and set up her own company, Etheridge Farms, which will soon be providing patients in California with her own homegrown product. Etheridge was also highly vocal about New York’s lackluster efforts to legalize MMJ, and called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to pass the Compassionate Care Act for patients across the state, which he finally did in 2014.

Despite the bill going through, New York legalized an extremely conservative MMJ program, which has undergone heavy criticism since its introduction three years ago. So it looks like Melissa still has a bit more work to do on the east coast; hopefully she might turn her advocacy attention back there sometime soon!

The Game

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The rapper known as The Game is a proponent of MMJ; he created his own strain earlier in 2016 for use in traditional cigarettes and drinks.

A recent newcomer to the MMJ scene is rapper The Game, who sees the legalization and recent acceptance of the medicine as a business investment. While he’s not the first star to involve himself in the marijuana business, he’s doing it in an innovative way; in August last year he became an official partner in The Reserve, an MMJ dispensary which operates out of Santa Ana, California. The Reserve is a legally licensed dispensary, which makes The Game the first celebrity to partner with an outlet of this kind.

He stated that he ‘finally has a platform to legally cultivate and sell a plant that saves lives and is changing our world in a positive way’. The rapper also created his own strain earlier in 2016 for use in traditional cigarettes and drinks, and is planning on creating a few more strains for his new partnership with The Reserve.

The Game isn’t the only hip hop star to dabble in marijuana creation; fellow rappers Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa have both invested in marijuana and developed their own unique brand of the herb, which is used medicinally and recreationally in legalized states.

Sting

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English rocker Sting has been an avid fan of medical cannabis use, especially because he believes it helps those with qualifying illnesses and conditions that need it for their health.

English rocker Sting has been a vocal proponent of ending America’s ‘War on Drugs’ for many years. In 2010, he came out with a strongly-worded article in the Huffington Post where he allied himself with the Drug Policy Alliance, an organization which champions the smart legalization of some drugs and condemns the failures and titanic costs of the ‘War on Drugs’. In the article, Sting explicitly mentions medical marijuana, and pointed out that those who are suffering from a variety of illnesses that could be effectively treated or eased by marijuana do not have access to it.

Obviously a lot has changed in the seven years since Sting wrote the article, and many across America can now legally access MMJ, but his point still stands; if it is an effective treatment for specific conditions, shouldn’t everyone who’s suffering be able to avail of it if they choose?

So it’s clear to see that music and marijuana remain steadfastly aligned in 2017. Hopefully we will see more and more musicians supporting the cause of MMJ as the medicine is embraced in states across the country.

3 MMJ Policies New York Needs to Change to Take on California

There has always been a rivalry between the east coast and the west; whether it’s sport, politics or hip hop, New Yorkers are always determined to out battle Californians. In the arena of medical marijuana however, as it currently stands, there is one clear winner.

MMJ was legalized in California way back in the Compassionate Use Act of 1996; in this way, the Golden State was way ahead of the other 49 on the medical marijuana front. Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Nevada followed Cali’s lead in 1998, and over the last twenty odd years, MMJ has been steadily legalized in 29 different states in the U.S.

One of the most recent states to take up the cause was, surprisingly, New York. The government in Albany only passed the required act in July 2014, following a lengthy debate in the state senate. This made them the 23rd state in the U.S. to legalize MMJ (a staggering statistic when you consider New York’s traditional liberal leanings).

Even more startling was the restrictiveness of the bill when it was finally unveiled to the NY public; despite passing with a landslide, it was in fact one of the most conservative in the whole country.

Cuomo has long since taken a staunch anti-marijuana position, and the Republicans in the Senate got a little weak in the knees at the prospect of MMJ legalization escalating rapidly to recreational legalization. The result was a bill that failed to cater to the basic needs of most patients across the state.

While the signs are good that this restrictiveness is set to change due to continued pressure and advocacy from support groups, it doesn’t change the fact that it puts New York light years behind California when it comes to MMJ law.

With that in mind, here are three major policies from Cuomo’s bill that need to change if New York wants to draw even or surpass the Golden State.

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Since smoking is the most effective way to consume MMJ, New York needs to legalize smoking medical marijuana to be as forward-thinking as California.

1. Introduce Smoking

As patients in California know, smoking marijuana is the most effective form of consuming the drug, and the most potent method of treatment for  a myriad of conditions that MMJ can ease. Bizarrely, this was the one form of consumption that was left out of Cuomo’s bill – presumably because it is the form most associated with recreational use.

In a effort to distance himself from the thorny issue of recreational legalization, Cuomo insisted on a smoking ban. New York patients can instead consume the drug in the form of extracts, tinctures, oils and edibles.

Meanwhile, over on the west coast, smoking is far and away the most common form of consumption for patients. By limiting the use of MMJ, New York established itself as one of the most restrictive medical marijuana states in the country. This needs to change and change fast if they’re hoping to consider themselves a forward-thinking, progressive home for MMJ.

2. Allow More Registered Organizations

Advocates for MMJ recently scored a big win when they got the qualifying treatment ‘chronic pain’ added to the New York bill. This crucial clause, which opens up the benefits of MMJ to a whole range of patients, was absent from the initial proposal.

The trouble is, the 2014 bill only contains provision for five Registered Organizations (ROs), which the state licenses to produce and distribute medical marijuana. Each RO can only operate a maximum of four dispensaries each, leaving a total of twenty dispensaries serving the entire state of New York.

With more patients signing up thanks to the ‘chronic pain’ addition, this startlingly limited number of dispensaries simply won’t be enough to cover all patients in the state. In stark contrast, California has no limit on the amount of dispensaries; New York should certainly look to the west coast for inspiration on this one.

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If New York really wants to help MMJ patients feel better, then the state needs to add more medical marijuana facilities.

3. Take the Power Away From the Governor

Under the Compassionate Care Act of 2014, Governor Cuomo and by extension the senate, have the power to quash medical marijuana if they feel it’s being abused. With a Republican-leaning politician like Cuomo, this could happen at anytime, leaving MMJ patients in New York with a big old sword of Damocles hanging over them.

If it was voted in fairly, then the law belongs to the people; the power to take it away shouldn’t be in the hands of one man. Instead of this regressive clause, both Republicans and Democrats should look to compromise and keep in mind the best interests of the people.

Since last November, when California followed Colorado’s lead and legalized recreational marijuana, the debate has been all about the legality of marijuana in general; having New York all paranoid about medical marijuana, which has been embraced by 29 states and proven to be effective for sufferers of a whole range of conditions, seems extremely regressive and archaic.

What California MMJ Patients Think of New York’s New Medical Cannabis Legislation

Twenty nine states across the U.S. have now legalized medical marijuana, although the strictures of each respective legislation differ wildly. Although MMJ has been legal in at least one state in America since 1996, it still remains a contentious topic among local governments – a contention which becomes apparent with even a cursory glance at the various bills and acts which inform the legality of the medicine across the country. In fact, you don’t even have to look at all the bills; you can look at just two, a comparison which comprises the opposite coasts of the country.

California have always been way ahead of the curve when it comes to medical marijuana. They were the first state to introduce MMJ, way back in 1996, and their loose, liberal approach has informed the way many states approach the controversial subject. It took a further two years for any other state to get MMJ legislature through their respective senates.

Though it wasn’t the first state to introduce recreational marijuana (that was Colorado and Washington simultaneously in 2012), Cali has long been seen as a marijuana advocate stronghold, and followed through with their recreational legalization in November 2016, concurrent with the U.S. presidential election.

Californians Have a Leg Up When It Comes to MMJ

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One benefit Californians have over New Yorkers when it comes to medical cannabis: patients aren’t required to get a state ID card or an MMJ card.

MMJ patients in California have it pretty good. Their 1996 bill, Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act, still holds up in 2017, despite some vague wording at the time of its issue. There are a whole host of qualifying conditions, not just serious ones, and the list includes the all-important qualifier ‘chronic pain’, which covers many different forms of debilitation, without needing the doctors to diagnose a specific illness before prescribing.

In fact, the law goes one step further, and qualifies any debilitating illness where the use of MMJ has been “deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician”. This gives doctors a lot of free rein to prescribe to their patients, without worrying if their treatment plan is in danger of breaking state law.

There are also no possession limits specified by Prop. 215, and home cultivation of the medicine is permitted. However, patients could find themselves in hot water if they grew amounts of marijuana that were obviously excessive to their needs; to clear up this situation, the government added an amendment to the original bill in 2016, which declared that a patient may cultivate up to 100 square feet of marijuana, while primary caregivers with five or fewer patients can cultivate up to 500 square feet.

Most importantly, patients in California are not required to get a state ID card or a MMJ card. They’re both optional, but residents of the state can avail of medical marijuana freely without either of them.

Medical Cannabis Laws in New York

All that freedom stands in stark contrast to New York’s take on the matter of MMJ. Californian patients would think that NY’s legislation was extremely conservative; and they’d be right. The usually-liberal leaning New York shocked MMJ advocates up and down the country in 2014, when it introduced one of the most restrictive medical marijuana bills in the U.S. Initially, it was seen as an extremely conservative step, but a necessary one, given that New York governor Andrew Cuomo has been vocally anti-marijuana (in any form) in the past. Looking at the legislature, it reads almost opposite to California’s bill of eighteen years previous, although of course, they are broadly the same piece of law.

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New York’s medical marijuana legislation is pretty much the exact opposite of California’s 1996 MMJ bill.

Initially, New York had a small list of severe diseases under its qualifying conditions. These included cancer, AIDS, ALS, MS and Parkinson’s, although crucially did not include the all important ‘chronic pain’ clause that California’s law has. Since last year, after pressure from MMJ advocates, this has since been rectified, and ‘chronic pain’ is now a fully fledged, MMJ-legal condition in New York.

A second part of the bill that shocked Californians, and has yet to be rectified, is the prohibition on smoking the medicine. Smoking has long been known as the most potent and effect method to consume marijuana; when it comes to medical cases, it’s important that patients give the medicine the best chance it can to work. Unfortunately, under Governor Cuomo, smoking MMJ was considered too much of a risk, and not included in the bill.

Other restricting factors include absolutely no cultivation permitted, and a limit on how many dispensaries can operate in the state at a time (only twenty). This again is in stark contrast to the West Coast, where patients could be sure of picking up their medicine locally and easily.

Looking to New York, patients in California would be shocked to learn that there is only one dispensary for every 27,000 square kilometers of the state. This makes access hard, and also crucially makes it more troublesome for critically ill patients to get the treatment they need.

Although things are changing in New York, they’re still a long way off the liberal leanings of California’s law. Observing the happenings on the East Coast, MMJ patients in Cali are no doubt thanking their lucky stars that they live where they do; conversely, NY patients have got a fight on their hands to bring their legislature up to California’s gold standard.

Is New York Going to Overtake California as the Leading MMJ State?

As legal medical marijuana becomes more and more widespread in the United States, the particular ways each state is handling the introduction of the medicine are slowly becoming apparent. There are currently 29 legal MMJ states in the country, across the country from California to New York, and all of them approach the subject a little differently to the last.

While advocates continue to fight the good fight to get the medicine legalized in all 50 states, it’s going to be a long road; so it can be instructive to take a look at how the respective programs of the legalized states have shaped up so far.

California: A Trailblazer for Medical Cannabis

The trailblazer state for MMJ is undoubtedly California, who legalized the drug over twenty years ago in 1996. Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Care Act, passed by a narrow 55%, and allowed people suffering from cancer, AIDS, arthritis and other chronic ailments the avail of medical marijuana.

Although the proposition was criticized at the time for its vague wording, it was hailed as a major breakthrough by the medical profession, who could now legally recommend MMJ to their patients. From then, California has gone from strength to strength, and has become the guiding beacon for the legalization of both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.

California has long been seen as a leading liberal state, as has its counterpart on the opposite coast, New York. America’s largest city has a long history of liberal leanings, and most expected them to carry through with the advent of MMJ. However, that was surprisingly not the case.

New York vs. California MMJ Laws

Quite the opposite occurred actually; when New York finally legalized medical marijuana in 2014, a full eighteen years after California, it was in the form of a shockingly restrictive and conservative bill. One of the sticking points of the new legislation came from Governor Andrew Cuomo, a long-standing anti-marijuana advocate, who insisted that the medicine should not be legalized in smokable form.

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California allows medical marijuana to be taken in any form, which is vastly different to the MMJ laws in New York.

This greatly limits the potency of MMJ, which is most effective and fast-acting when smoked. In addition, only a small number of diseases, many of them severe, would qualify a patient for MMJ treatment in New York; the 2014 bill didn’t include the blanker term ‘chronic pain’, which critically limits both who doctors can prescribe to, and on what grounds.

In fact, New York doctors themselves had to think very carefully before prescribing the drug. If they were found to be working outside the tight parameters of Cuomo’s bill, they could find themselves breaking federal law.

As it stood upon introduction, New York’s MMJ laws stood in stark contrast to California’s liberal leanings. California allows medical marijuana to be taken in any form, and also includes a wide range of qualifying conditions, which sharply outguns New York’s restrictive measures.

Medical Marijuana Laws: Times They are a Changin’

Things have been changing recently though, and advocates in New York have been applying pressure in order to loosen the conservative bill. These changes, however, bring it nowhere near California’s MMJ legacy; and the problem starts with supply and demand.

It’s hard to walk down any given street in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or indeed any major Californian city, without happening across an MMJ dispensary. Over twenty years of legal medical marijuana have given California an unprecedented head start in terms of cultivation, and the industry continues to go from strength to strength.

Over on the East coast however, things are a little different. Currently, New York’s 2014 bill only allows for five cultivation companies to legally operate in the state, with a maximum of twenty dispensaries (or one every 2,700km). This was initially crippling to the growth of MMJ; though the Department of Health has since recognized its limitations, and doubled the amount of cultivation companies to ten, in a bill passed late last year.

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One good piece of news is that as of March this year, chronic pain was added as a qualifying ailment for MMJ in New York.

There are also continuing and persistent calls for changing the qualifying conditions in New York, some of which have not gone unheeded. As of March this year, chronic pain was added as a qualifying ailment, after it was announced in December 2016. This opens up a whole new world for medical marijuana in New York, making it accessible for many more people for whom it could prove a major benefit. Despite the early aggressiveness of the 2014 bill, signs are good that the Department of Health are loosening their reins and are looking to put New York on the MMJ map.

However, these new measures simply don’t measure up to California’s lax legislation. In fact, the Sunshine State has gone one step further and legalized recreational marijuana, another bold step in the slowly but surely progressing acceptance of the drug. Although it’s making bold strides, and is certainly heading in there right direction, New York still has a long way to go to make up the ground gained by California.

Until NY, the supposed liberal bastion of the Eastern seaboard, severely loosens its laws, Cali will remain the king of MMJ states. But who knows what the lay of the land will look like five years from now. Until then, patients will on both sides of the country will have to continue fighting the good fight, and advocating the plethora of benefits MMJ provides.

Why New York Medical Marijuana Laws Are Stricter Than in California

Why would anyone choose to leave sunny California? The weather is amazing, the people are chill and most importantly, the medical marijuana laws are pretty relaxed.

The Golden State was the first to bring MMJ laws onto its books. While many states have followed suit, not many have as relaxed laws as California does. There is also a great rivalry between the east and west coasts, so how do Californian medical marijuana laws measure up to those in New York state?

MMJ Laws in New York and California

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The main difference between New York medical marijuana laws and California medical cannabis laws are the forms that are legal to consume.

The short answer is that New York has far stricter rules on medical marijuana than California. While California has had MMJ laws on the books since 1996, New York only brought in limited medical marijuana laws on 2014.

The main difference between MMJ in the states is the forms that are legal. In California, you can consume smoking cannabis, edibles, tinctures and pretty much any kind of medical marijuana. However, in New York, there are strict laws in place relating to what can be consumed. Patients may only consume MMJ via oils or sprays to be vaporized or consumed orally. Edibles and cannabis cigarettes are still strictly illegal.

You are also not permitted to grow medical marijuana for your own use, whereas this is permitted in California. This can present issues for patients who experience the best results from cannabis cigarettes or edibles, as opposed to tinctures, oils or vapes.

Medical marijuana benefits different people in different ways, and the forms that you consume them in can often have differing effects. It’s unfortunate that New York state cannot cater to all of its medical marijuana patients, some of which live with chronic and unmanageable pain, but a broader law may come into effect with continued campaigning.

Obtaining Medical Marijuana in New York and California

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In California, the process of obtaining an MMJ card is much easier than obtaining one in New York.

The ways in which you obtain a medical marijuana card in both states are also slightly different. In California, you can visit a medical marijuana professional for an in-person or online consultation. They will ask you the nature of your condition and prescribe medical cannabis to you based on your needs. You then receive your MMJ card and go to your dispensary to pick the form and strain of medical marijuana you need.

In New York, things are far stricter. Patients must suffer from a specified condition that appears on a list that has been ratified by the Commissioner. These conditions include Alzheimer’s Disease, chronic pain (which is very strictly defined) HIV/AIDS, cancer or epilepsy. This means that you need to fit very strict medical criteria before you can even consider seeking a medical marijuana card.

After you have deemed yourself suitable for medical marijuana treatment, you have to visit a registered medical marijuana practitioner. All medical marijuana practitioners must be registered with New York State and noted on a public register. When you visit an MMJ practitioner in New York, they will also decide the appropriate dosage and strain for you, as well as the form you consume it in.

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When you visit an MMJ practitioner in California, you get to decide your appropriate dosage and strain.

In California, that decision is left up to the patient. For example, you can go to a medical marijuana practitioner in New York State, who will decide you need a certain strain, in a certain amount to be administered and consumed in a certain form. You then bring the “prescription” to a dispensary, who can only give you the medical cannabis that the registered practitioner has decided is most appropriate for you.

As medical marijuana practitioners must register with the state, so too must patients. When you receive your MMJ certificate from your practitioner, you must register as a medical marijuana patient online. You will then be sent a card, which will allow you to receive your treatment. You cannot receive any treatment without your identification card.

Dispensaries in New York are also required to be fully registered and can only carry pre-approved products that can be designated to patients. While there is a wide variety of ways to take medical marijuana in California, practitioners in New York are only allowed to certify patients to take certain types and brands, with varying rates of THC and CBD.

As you can see, the measures in New York are far stricter than those in California, and this mostly just comes down to stigma. In California, MMJ has been around for over twenty years, and most citizens are comfortable with the concept, as it has changed so many lives for the better. New York is still coming around to the idea, and is being incredibly strict so as not to be seen to be condoning recreational drug use.

Hopefully, with time, New York will be able to relax its incredibly strict MMJ laws and allow more people access to a lifeline that has changed people from being in so much pain that they cannot function, to being functional members of society.

 

California vs New York: Which State is Best for Medical Cannabis?

Now that the medical marijuana card revolution has spread to New York, it can be easy to compare and contrast its laws to those in other states. While it’s not fair to compare MMJ card states with marijuana gold standard states – we’re looking at you, Colorado – comparing MMJ-friendly states against each other gives us a better picture of which state is best to live in if you’re a cannabis card holder.

California was a trailblazer in the legalization of medical marijuana with the introduction of Proposition 215 all the way back in 1996. For this reason, MMJ laws in the Sunshine State are some of the best in the country, leaving other MMJ states in its shadow.

Unfortunately for New York MMJ card carriers, the liberal bastion of the eastern seaboard just hasn’t caught up to California’s super lax laws. In fairness to them, they only legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2014, so we can’t exactly hold them to California’s standard, which has been over 20 years in the making.

Qualifying Ailments for MMJ

The biggest area where Californian cannabis laws outshine New York’s is by their classification of qualifying ailments. In California, there is a broad lists of qualifying conditions that allow you to apply for a medical marijuana card. This includes anything from menstrual cramps and anxiety, to cancer and everything in between. Thanks to this, anyone in need of the ameliorative effects of cannabis can access it.

New York’s list of qualifying conditions is significantly smaller, and comes with specific stipulations. To get a medical marijuana card in New York, you must suffer from a life-threatening illness. According to the medical marijuana program, this is limited to cancerHIV, AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal damage, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathy, Huntington’s disease and chronic pain.

In addition to these limitations, your condition must present you with life-limiting symptoms in order to qualify for an MMJ card. A doctor can not, and will not, prescribe you medical cannabis outside of these conditions due to the intense pressure put on them by the New York Medical Marijuana Program.

Cannabis Cultivation Laws in New York and California

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One downside for MMJ card holders in New York: it’s strictly banned in the state to grow cannabis at home.

Home cultivation is strictly banned in New York, with the state’s needs for cultivation limited to production by ten companies. This presents problems for cannabis card holders who prefer to home grow due to mobility issues.

California, by contrast, allows MMJ card carriers to grow six mature plants or 12 immature plants at home once they have the required growers license. Unfortunately for New Yorkers, there doesn’t seem to be any plans on the horizon to ease home growing laws.

Consumption Laws for Medical Marijuana

Noticeably, you won’t see any medical marijuana card holders smoking MMJ in New York, as smoking the plant is strictly illegal. Governor Cuomo never gave a real explanation as to why this is, with many people speculating that he wanted to distance his MMJ program from methods of consumption that would typically be associated with recreational use. While this isn’t a major problem for most cannabis card carriers – a lot of them would steer clear from smoking due to the obvious health effects. This can be a nuisance for the small few who prefer to smoke their MMJ.

Similarly, the consumption of medical marijuana edibles is banned in New York. Unlike smoking, a significant amount of MMJ card holders would consume this way. Using edibles has a whole host of benefits – and is tasty, to boot – so some patients were very disappointed with this law. Being the bastion of MMJ goodness that it is, Californian medical marijuana law allows both smoking and the consumption of edibles once you’re suitably discreet about it.

Getting a Cannabis Card in California and New York

Acquiring a cannabis card in California is a much easier process than it is in New York. In Cali, all you need to do is complete a short, noninvasive online consultation with a licensed mental health professional and voilà, you got yourself a California medical marijuana card! In New York, it takes a little bit longer to do.

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Just like sitting in New York traffic can be a painfully long process, so can acquiring a New York MMJ card.

First, you must go to a doctor and tell them about your illness and your need for a medical marijuana card. It’s important to note that the doctor you go to must be registered with the Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Program – if they’re not, they won’t be able to prescribe you MMJ, and you’ll be left feeling disappointed. If you have a qualifying ailment and they think you’re suitable for it, they’ll recommend you for medical marijuana certification.

Following this, you’ll have to register for your Registry ID Card. You do this by applying via the Department of Health’s Online Patient Registration System. Once your application is rigorously reviewed, you’ll be sent out your ID in the mail. You’ll need to bring this with you when you visit the MMJ dispensary in New York.

New York’s medical cannabis laws are only in their infancy, so it’s pretty understandable for them to be so far behind their western cousins on the MMJ front. Thankfully, further relaxations of New York’s MMJ laws are on the horizon, with the possibility of total legalization looking likely within the next five years – not bad for a state who only decriminalized MMJ three years ago!

Until then, New York can continue to look to California for inspiration on how to make their state more MMJ-friendly.

 

Will Medical Marijuana in New York Match California in Popularity?

The Californian medical marijuana card program is a shining beacon of MMJ best practice. Those who need to get an MMJ card can do so easily, and without many stipulations delaying the process. As Cali MMJ card holders face so little roadblocks in accessing marijuana, they’re rarely left unnecessarily suffering. This ease of access means that medical marijuana is naturally very popular in California.

California not only makes getting a medical marijuana card very easy, but it also has the infrastructure in place to deal with the high demand. Dispensaries are dotted generously throughout the state, meaning that regardless of where you are, you can easily acquire MMJ.

Unfortunately, not all states can mirror Cali’s wonderful MMJ laws. While New York has been making some concrete steps towards becoming more MMJ-friendly since its legalization in 2014, roadblocks still exist for medical marijuana card holders looking to acquire the plant.

Access to MMJ in New York

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Because many physicians in New York are reluctant to prescribe medical marijuana, people outside of Manhattan have a very tough time accessing it.

As New York’s medical marijuana laws are still in their infancy, doctors – especially doctors outside of the city – are unsure of how to toe the line in regards who they can and can’t prescribe MMJ to. For this reason, a lot of physicians around the state are very reluctant to prescribe MMJ, with most of them point blank refusing to prescribe it at all for fear that they’d lose their license. This means that medical marijuana card carriers living outside of Manhattan have a very tough time accessing MMJ.

A lot of prospective MMJ card holders simply cannot make hour-long trips to willing doctors due to the fact that they are oftentimes limited in their movements by their ailment. This unfortunate situation means that the popularity of medical marijuana in New York is dwarfed by that of California.

Medical Marijuana Ailments

In New York, the list of qualifying ailments deemed suitable for the medical marijuana program is much shorter than that of the Sunshine State. In most cases, you must have a life-threatening illness such as MS, AIDS or cancer in order to be considered for the program. This is further complicated by the fact that your illness must also present you with significant life-limiting symptoms like chronic pain or muscle spasms.

A huge number of Californians would have their medical marijuana card in order to treat ailments that are not deemed suitable in New York. Medical marijuana is used to treat all manner of illnesses in California like depression, anxiety, epilepsy and PTSD, and these generous laws are what give life to its popularity there.

Until New York loosens what it considers to be an allowable condition for MMJ treatment, the popularity of medical marijuana in the state will continue to dwindle.

New York vs California MMJ Laws

The banning of certain consumption methods is another thing attributed to the low popularity of medical marijuana in New York. There is a blanket ban on smoking MMJ across the entirety of the state. Most people attribute this to the fact that weed skeptic Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to distance New York’s medical marijuana laws from consumption methods that would typically be associated with recreational users, rather than users with MMJ cards.

For this same suspected reason, the consumption of medical marijuana edibles in New York is banned, too. While most MMJ card carriers could get over the smoking ban, banning edibles is a tougher pill to swallow. As ingesting your medical marijuana has tons of benefits, it is the consumption method of choice for a lot of cannabis card holders across the country. The outright ban of edibles has thusly negatively impacted upon the popularity of MMJ in New York.

A lot of the contributing factors as to why medical marijuana is so much less popular in New York than in California can easily be put down to the fact that New York’s medical marijuana laws are much younger than California’s – by a whopping 18 years! Having legalized MMJ all the way back in 1996, California weed legislation has gone through many evolutions, eventually giving rise to the super MMJ-friendly state we have today.

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Medical marijuana was legalized in California in 1996, making the Golden State a trailblazer for other MMJ-friendly states.

As weed has been a mainstay of Californian health law since the 90s, it’s more normalized there than it is in New York. Adding to that the fact that recently California announced that it would be legalizing the drug entirely, it’s no wonder that the popularity here outnumbers that of New York so starkly.

Recent New York Medical Marijuana Bills

Thankfully for New Yorkers, the Empire State is moving closer and closer to full legalization of marijuana every day. Recently, two bills were submitted by NY legislators that would potentially create regulations that would see marijuana being taxed and controlled in the same way that alcohol currently is. Not only would this create a huge influx of revenue for the state, but it would also mean that those caught in possession of up to two ounces of marijuana would face no criminal charges – way to go New York!

Eventually, medical marijuana will be just as popular in New York as it is in California. Until then, we’ve just gotta be happy that New York – like a lot of other states – is slowly but surely moving towards being much more MMJ-friendly.

Why Getting an MMJ Card in New York is Harder Than in California

It’s pretty safe to say that California medical marijuana card holders have it pretty easy. MMJ laws in the Sunshine State are famously lax, meaning that acquiring a cannabis card can be done in a few short minutes from the comfort of your own home. Soon, California’s marijuana laws will become even better when state wide legalization is introduced – way to go Cali!

Unfortunately, on the east coast, New York MMJ card carriers aren’t afforded the same weed friendly legislation. Since its legalization in 2014 by Andrew Cuomo, medical marijuana in New York hasn’t been easy to come by. Acquiring an MMJ card has been a legal minefield fraught with uncertainty. As a result, many people suffering from medical marijuana compatible illnesses have had to go without the miracle plant.

New York’s Case Against Medical Marijuana

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Governor Cuomo and his department don’t want the New York Medical Marijuana Program to be abused, so they’re making it very difficult to get a MMJ card.

The legislation of medical marijuana in New York came as a surprise to some as Governor Cuomo does not support the decriminalization of the plant. It is thought that the tough MMJ laws could be as a direct result of this. Although Cuomo does recognize the usefulness of medical marijuana as a form of treatment for certain illnesses, he is vehemently opposed to decriminalization, so it’s natural that he would want to keep MMJ laws as tough as possible to safeguard them from abuse.

Interestingly – and in spite of Cuomo’s beliefs – New York state lawmakers recently submitted two bills which could potentially pave the way for a state wide legalization of marijuana for recreational use. The bills – namely the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act – would create a system whereby marijuana would be taxed and regulated in the same way that alcohol is, creating a new market and providing millions of dollars in Revenue for the state.

Under this law, possession of up to two ounces of marijuana would be legal for people aged 18 and over, and people aged 21 and over could legally buy cannabis from state licensed dispensaries, regardless of whether they had an MMJ card or not.

Until total legalization is introduced, it’s unlikely that getting a medical marijuana card will become much easier. Cuomo and his department don’t want the New York Medical Marijuana Program to be abused and thus, make getting the card particularly difficult. While these conservative views are restricting access to the plant for those in need, they see this as a necessary evil to stop people who they think shouldn’t be consuming it.

New York’s MMJ Laws

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One thing that majorly irked medical marijuana card holders in New York: the state banned edibles.

New York’s stringent MMJ laws are none the more evident than in the fact that smoking medical marijuana is strictly forbidden within the state. While smoking is not the consumption method of choice for most MMJ card holders – due to the obvious detrimental health effects – for the few users who prefer to smoke, this is problematic.

Edibles are similarly banned in New York, which irked medical marijuana card holders further. When this news was announced, some cannabis card holders were at a loss as to why these strict rules regarding consumption methods were enforced. It’s likely that the New York MMJ Program wanted to distance itself from recreational cannabis use as much as possible, thus outlawing methods of consumption that are more typically associated recreational users.

Type of Conditions

In the same vein, the list of qualifying conditions that deem you suitable for a medical marijuana card is considerably shorter in New York than it is in California. By and large, to obtain an MMJ card in New York you must be suffering from a life-threatening illness such as HIV or cancer, and your ailment must present you with associative and complicating conditions like seizures or chronic pain.

Thankfully, these laws have become slightly more lax in recent times, as PTSD and chronic pain have been added to the list of qualifying conditions.

Access to a Licensed MMJ Physician

Due to the uncertainty of New York’s MMJ Laws, unless you live close to New York City, it can be hard to find you a doctor who will happily recommend you for a medical marijuana card. Prospective MMJ card applicants across the state have consistently been disappointed, as their own trusted physicians refuse to recommend them for the program should, they step out of line and potentially lose their practice.

The best way to overcome this problem is to apply for your medical marijuana card online. This way you can complete your consultation with a state licensed physician from the comfort of your own home, and have it posted out to you within a few short days.

Essentially, it’s harder to get an MMJ card in New York than in California because the New York Medical Marijuana Program is still in its infancy. California legalized medical marijuana all the way back in 1996 – nearly 20 years before New York – so it’s no wonder that Cali is more weed-friendly than the Empire State.

Thankfully, New York is catching up fast, and it looks likely that we’ll see the full legalization of marijuana within the next five years. Until then, if you need access to MMJ in New York, it’s prudent that you apply for you medical marijuana card online today!

Your Rights When Traveling with Medical Marijuana

Lots of people may think that there’s no reason to leave California. With sunny weather and a wide variety of cities, people, cuisines and activities, residents of the Golden State could be forgiven for staying put. However, if you’re someone who has been bitten by the travel bug, what options do you have for traveling with your medical marijuana?

It can be scary and alienating, so read our handy guide to the logistics of traveling with medical marijuana before the pre-travel panic sets in! It is not easy to travel with MMJ, so if you’re really panicking, it may be better to stay within California. However, if you really want or need to travel and if you’re able to follow some of our advice, you may find the process slightly less stressful.

Traveling by Car

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As medical marijuana laws vary from state to state, things can become tricky when you leave sunny California.

Arguably, this is probably the easiest option as you’re the boss in terms of what goes in and out of your vehicle. It may limit you in terms of how far you can go, but as far as the roads are concerned, you should be OK — as long as you don’t cause trouble.

You need to become familiar with the medical marijuana laws of the state to which you are traveling. As medical marijuana laws vary from state to state, things can become tricky when you leave sunny California. The bad news is that even if you travel somewhere with legal medical marijuana, you may not be able to bring MMJ products from another state across the border. You will also be unable to buy medical marijuana without a valid MMJ card for that state, for which you must be a legal resident.

In addition, for those who grow their own, it is usually illegal to transport marijuana plants across state borders, regardless of the medical marijuana laws in your home state and the state you’re traveling to.

If you’re worried about the legality, it may be easier to stay home, but it is possible to be discreet in your MMJ use if you’re careful. Obviously, avoid toking up in public, and stick to odorless vaping as this can be disguised as tobacco. Even better is edibles as they can be easily disguised as run-of-the-mill food items — as long as you don’t share them with anyone! 

Traveling by Train

The same rules apply with traveling by train as by car except that you will have to be more discreet as you will be surrounded by fellow passengers and rail staff. In addition, you will be subject to the rules and regulations of your rail carrier, which will likely follow federal law, which states that marijuana is an illegal drug.

It is also illegal to smoke on most trains, so vaping or smoking is out regardless of your preference. It may be easier to employ edibles, as advised above, or tinctures, which are an excellent option when you’re in need of a discreet way to take your medical marijuana.

 Traveling by Air

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Federal law is also the letter of the land in airports, so the TSA is likely to be harsh on patients who travel with MMJ, regardless of their legal status in their home state.

Air is by far the most difficult option when traveling with medical marijuana. The Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, carry out incredibly strict bag checks, and sniffer dogs are often employed in major airports to detect drugs. Federal law is also the letter of the land in airports, so the TSA is likely to be harsh on patients who travel with MMJ, regardless of their legal status in their home state.

The reality is that you are unlikely to get away with traveling with any form of medical marijuana, be it buds, oil, tinctures or edibles. The TSA is just too strict, and the checks carried out are just too thorough. If caught with any form of marijuana, be it recreational or medicinal, the TSA can confiscate your items or refer you to law enforcement, who can arrest, charge or caution you depending on the severity of your offense.

Sadly, the medical marijuana laws at a federal level have failed to catch up with the 29 states, along with the District of Columbia, that have legalized cannabis for medical usage, and federal laws govern most of the traveling that happens in the U.S. If in doubt, it’s better to travel without your medical marijuana as it is often just not worth the legal trouble.

If you’re unable to go without, research vacation options within California. From wine country in Napa to glamorous Los Angeles and techy San Francisco, there are lots of options open to you as a user of medical marijuana. Sometimes it’s just better to have the peace of mind that comes with staying put and being able to go about your business as you see fit while treating your conditions in the way you’re able to in California. Happy travels!

The Difference Between California and Florida MMJ Laws

On Nov. 8, Florida voters chose to legalize medical marijuana, following in the footsteps of California, Washington, Maine and even Alaska, where MMJ has been legal since 1998. In fact, medical marijuana has been legalized in 29 states, with the majority of MMJ laws passing in the past five years. Florida finds itself in the middle of legalization, but the heartening news for supporters is that the bill, known as Amendment 2, was passed with 71 percent of the votes, which, in political terms, is huge.

There’s still a ways to go, though, and it’ll be a while before patients in the Sunshine State are able to avail of legal medical marijuana. Although MMJ has technically been legal since January 2017 and around 200 doctors in Florida are legally qualified to prescribe it, it’s only available by presenting a government-issued ID card, which must be prescribed to patients by September 2017. That’s a long wait, and there are many potential legal challenges and appeals by opponents that can clog up the works in the meantime. The Florida legislature and Department of Health are still hammering out the exact rules and regulations regarding that will govern the industry, leaving patients in an uncomfortable gray area.

Fortunately, the precedent for full legalization is in place. In 2014, Florida legalized small quantities of low-strength MMJ for very specific severe illnesses and only after patients had been seeing their doctor for at least three months. So citizens can be hopeful that the full legalization will pass through without too much trouble, even if it takes a little while to roll out the plans. With 71 percent of the votes, there can be no doubt that the people of Florida have spoken. To go against that will would amount to political suicide, even for those staunchly opposed to MMJ legalization.

CA vs FL: Qualifying Conditions

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California was the first state to introduce MMJ laws, under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.

When people think of MMJ laws, the first state that probably comes to mind is California. It was the first state to introduce MMJ laws, under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which means it’s been pioneering the legalization of the drug for an astonishing 21 years now.

There is a large range of traditional qualifying illnesses that enable a patient to avail of MMJ in California, including nausea, chronic pain and migraines, but there is also a clause that allows physicians who are licensed to practice in California to prescribe MMJ for debilitating illnesses at their own discretion. Subsequently, physicians have recommended medical marijuana for an even larger number of conditions, including as insomnia or depression.

This will likely not be the case in Florida, where physicians will be limited to what conditions for which they can prescribe MMJ. As it stands, only severely debilitating illnesses qualify a patient for MMJ.

CA vs FL: Possession Amounts

Another large point of contention for the new Florida law is possession amounts. California is very liberal with their possession laws. Under Proposition 215, patients are entitled to carry whatever amount of MMJ they deem necessary to treat their condition. This comes with a caveat, however; if a person is found to be carrying obviously excessive quantities of marijuana, they can be arrested or they can be fined for exceeding local MMJ laws.

Under the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, which passed in January 2016, patients in California are permitted to grow their own MMJ in plots up to 100 square feet. This extends to 500 square feet for primary caregivers and/or physicians with fewer than five patients.

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California is very liberal with their possession laws.

In Florida, however, the limits of possession have yet to be determined, but it is certain that patients will have to acquire their medicine through state-licensed dispensaries with home cultivation off the table. Florida wants to keep a keen eye on everyone involved with MMJ, at least at the beginning of its introduction.

By way of contrast, California doesn’t even require its patients to register for an ID card, making it very difficult for the government to keep tabs on everyone using MMJ. Opponents of MMJ in Florida point to California’s lax policies and subsequent experiences as negative and regard their liberal introduction of the MMJ laws as a testing ground for subsequent states.

Federal MMJ Laws vs State MMJ Laws

Under federal law, any kind of marijuana possession is a crime. This led to a confusing gray area in California, where no one was sure whose legal jurisdiction should be upheld. The compromise was reached in 2002 when it was decided that each county and city should decide on their own. The result of this is a confusing web of crisscrossing MMJ laws, leaving some areas of California inundated with dispensaries while others are almost completely MMJ-free.

Florida would do well to learn from California’s successes and mistakes when it comes to implementing its own MMJ laws, hopefully making the introduction of medical marijuana a triumph for both the people and the state as a whole.

Why Medical Cannabis Is The New Go-To Medicine In California

Medical cannabis has long been disregarded by mainstream medicine, although this attitude is slowly changing. Prior to rigorous testing, medical practitioners are extremely wary of recommending the use of any drug to patients for fear of causing more harm than good, as well as for fear of possible backlash – lawsuits, bad press etc. And anecdotal evidence has to be overlooked in the medical world. Only conclusive, clinical studies gain the acceptance of doctors and scientists and that’s the way it should be. However, often anecdotal evidence – unequivocal as it may seem – is enough for the general public and they may become frustrated with the medical world’s extreme caution and bureaucracy (in most of the world it has previously been incredibly difficult to study marijuana as it has long been an illegal substance) leading to its lagging advocacy of certain drugs and procedures.

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Californian doctors are ditching the pills in favor of medical cannabis.

However, there is more here than meets the eye. It is not always simply an ethos of caution that causes the FDA to deny the efficacy of certain drugs that have proven themselves time and time again to be of benefit equal to or greater than that of their legal, pharmaceutical counterparts whilst having fewer negative effects. So what does cause it? Sometimes, it’s the investments of pharmaceutical companies that slow progress. With it being so much harder to control the use and distribution of natural drugs (as they can be homegrown) it’s harder to monopolize, and, therefore, harder to charge extortionate prices. But those invested in slowing the progression of medical cannabis from illegal to legal drug could only stem the tide so long. In this article, we will discuss why medical cannabis is the new go-to medicine in California, and in a rapidly growing number of cities across the world. Make sure you’ve got your medical marijuana card online before we begin! Enjoy.

Since medical cannabis becoming legal pursuant to Proposition 215 in 1996, Californians have enjoyed the plethora of medicinal benefits found in cannabis. And as time has passed, more and more of the miasma surrounding the possession and use of medical cannabis has dissipated. So accepted marijuana has become that, as of November 2016 it has become legalized for recreational use (though this won’t come into action until 2018). This is in large part due to the undeniable, powerful medicinal properties of the drug which have been shown to be extremely effective in the management and treatment of many chronic illnesses, diseases and disorders. These include multiple sclerosis, nausea, seizures, arthritis, lupus, poor appetite and weight loss, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and Crohn’s disease. Its advantages have been enough to have large pharmaceutical juggernauts shaking in their boots. Why fork out huge fees for unnatural drugs when there is an inexpensive, natural plant that proves just as effective? 

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Californian medical practitioners are using medical cannabis to treat a whole host of illnesses.

More than 15 million people abuse prescription drugs, more than the combined number who reported abusing cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants and heroin. And every day in the US, 2,500 more youths abuse a prescription pain reliever. Prescription drugs give the illusion of safety and this makes them incredibly dangerous and makes their users highly susceptible to overdose.   

Marijuana, on the other hand, is nontoxic and cannot cause death by overdose yet still acts as a painkiller. So patients can manage or treat their diseases and disorders without the risk of death. This makes the plant an incredibly appealing alternative to lab-based, pharmaceutical drugs. The availability of medical marijuana has reduced opioid abuse and overdose deaths because it has offered people an alternative for pain relief. Three of five opioid overdoses occur in people with legitimate prescriptions for pain pills. The replacing of prescription drugs with marijuana reduces opioid-related deaths – there were 1,700 fewer deaths in 2010 alone.

Marijuana – or more specifically, THC – has been proven to have plentiful positive effects on brain cells. THC is a powerful neuroprotectant. Remarkably, scientists have gone as far as to show that THC can promote the growth of new brain cells through a process known as neurogenesis! This effect was discovered in 2005 by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan. Medical cannabis also has anti-inflammatory, antiemetic (anti-vomiting) properties. And it staves off prostate cancer too. Cannabidiol is another major component of the plant.

So it’s easy to see why medical marijuana is the new go-to medicine in California. The next logical step is to legalize it in all states. This would have advantages far beyond the medicinal, such as dramatically increased tax revenues for the state (illegal drugs cannot be taxed), and the reduction of drug-related crime.  Make sure you have gotten your medical marijuana card online so you can start to benefit from the drug’s long list of health benefits.