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

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!

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

MMJ Recs - holding small weed bud

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

MMJ Recs - Golden Gate Bridge sunset view

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.

MMJ Recs - hemp plant growing

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.

MMJ Recs - beautiful beach view at sunrise

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.

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.

MMJRecs - Weed in Hand

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.

MMJRecs - Weed in Hand

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 Rules Do I Need to Know When Buying Medical Marijuana in California?

In 2016, California passed Proposition 64, or The Adult Use of Marijuana Act. This act legalized owning small quantities of legal weed, but that doesn’t mean you can rush right out and buy it. The legalization doesn’t take place until 2018, so unless you have a California medical marijuana card, it’s still illegal for you to buy weed, but oddly enough, not to possess it.

Luckily, getting your hands on that card is a lot easier than you might think, and once you have it, you’ll be able to legally buy marijuana at dispensaries across the great state of California. Here’s everything you need to know about legally buying medical marijuana in California.

Thanks to the internet and more medical professionals offering their services, you can now get an MMJ card online.

How Do I Get a California MMJ Card?

California was the first state to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and the practice dates back to 1975. A lot has changed since then, and getting your hands on a medical marijuana card is a lot easier than you think.

What you need to get a medical weed card is essentially a note from a doctor. Since marijuana is still illegal under federal law, this doctor’s letter isn’t a prescription, but rather a recommendation. Marijuana is used to treat literally thousands of ailments, so finding one that can help treat you is simple.

The best news is that you can now even get this all done online, saving you the time and hassle of going through the process of visiting a specialized weed doctor! Technically, you don’t need the card, and all you need is a letter given to you by your weed doctor. But the card fits right in your wallet, so it’s worth getting and it saves you the hassle of carrying around the letter (which would inevitably become damaged). With this card, you’ll be able to legally buy weed at dispensaries all across California.

What Are the Restrictions to Buying Cannabis with a Medical Weed Card? 

In California, you need to be 18 years old and own a medical marijuana card to legally buy weed. That is, unless you have a registered carer who is legally able to buy it for you. Without a medical marijuana card, you’ll need to be 21 years of age when you’ll be able to legally buy weed.

It’s also important to remember that you need to be an official resident of California to get your medical marijuana card. You’ll need either a birth certificate or a California ID, with proof of residency. Without this, you won’t be able to legally buy weed in California.

Where Can I Legally Buy MMJ in California?

Instead of feeling weird or scared to buy medical marijuana in a secret place, you can now purchase it at dispensaries across the state of California.

Gone are the days when you’d have to resort to finding shady dealers on street corners, never knowing what kind of weed you were going to get. You can now legally buy weed with your cannabis card at thousands of dispensaries across California.

A simple Google search will tell you where the closest dispensary to you is. You can even read reviews about them online to make up your mind if there are a couple in your location.

How Much Medical Marijuana in California Can I Legally Buy?

Without a medical marijuana card, you’ll only be allowed to carry one ounce of marijuana on yourself, or purchase it from a dispensary when it becomes legal. With a weed card, you’re entitled to have 8 ounces of marijuana on you at any time and can buy weed from your local dispensary in quantities up to 8 ounces.

How Many Marijuana Plants in California Can I Have with an MMJ Card?

If you are growing medical marijuana in California, the best place to do it is in your back yard.

You can grow 6 marijuana plants with your registered cannabis card. Without a card, you’ll only be able to grow one plant. It’s important to remember that this doesn’t mean you can start growing weed in your front lawn. All weed plants will need to be out of public sight.

We’d recommend growing them in your back yard, and if you don’t have the option of doing this, then use a tarp to hide them from the general public. As an extra bonus, it will also stop them from being stolen.

The great thing about California is that it’s one of the most fertile places on earth. You won’t need special equipment or expensive lights to get started. Literally, just a couple seeds, soil and regular watering and you’ll have some beautiful marijuana plants in no time!

Where Can I Legally Consume My Medical Marijuana in California?

If you’re a California native, you’ll be used to smelling faint aromas of marijuana in public spaces. This is just part of our culture. However, this is technically illegal, and with or without a medical marijuana card you’re only supposed to be able to smoke weed in your own private residence. 

While state authorities don’t enforce this with an iron fist, we recommend being safe rather than sorry when it comes to your public consumption. While there won’t be prison time, there may be some pretty sizable fines.

Just use your own judgment and don’t do anything that puts you or any members of the public in danger. Especially don’t smoke near children – this is where fines can quickly become far more severe and possibly even lead to jail time!

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.