In California, cannabis has been legal for recreational purposes since 2018. California was the very first state to legalize cannabis for medical purposes in 1996. Since 2018, people have wondered if getting a medical cannabis card in California still has a purpose.
After all, anyone over the age of 21 (and a valid ID) can walk into a recreational dispensary in California.
Do you still need a medical cannabis card in California if you have a qualifying condition? It depends on what you’re looking for.
Who Qualifies for Medical Cannabis in California?
Consumers must be at least 21 to purchase cannabis from recreational dispensaries.
Medical cannabis in California, however, is available to qualified people over the age of 18. Minors can access medical cannabis with the approval of a guardian over 18 and their physician.
Qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in California include:
- Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
- Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
- Chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Persistent muscle spasms (for example, spasms caused by multiple sclerosis)
- Seizures (for example, epileptic seizures)
If you have medical symptoms that aren’t on this list but substantially limit your availability to conduct major life activities or symptoms that may cause serious harm to your safety, physical health, or mental health – your doctor might be able to recommend medical cannabis to you.
The Perks of Getting a Medical Cannabis Card in California
Access to a Greater Allotment
California’s recreational cannabis law says adults over the age of 21 can possess up to 28.5 grams of cannabis, or up to 8 grams of cannabis concentrate.
Medical cannabis patients can grow and possess as much as reasonably needed, per their doctor’s recommendation. Patients who struggle with severe symptoms, such as chronic pain, often turn to medical cannabis cards to get the dosage they need.
It’s Less Expensive
Recreational cannabis purchases in California have three taxes attached: sales tax, excise tax, and a local tax.
California’s excise tax rate is 15% and local governments can impose an additional local tax rate of anywhere between 5 to 15%. Medical cannabis patients do not pay the state sales tax, anywhere from 8-10%.
For patients with chronic and life-threatening conditions like cancer, large doses of THC are the most effective – but that gets really expensive, really fast. Reducing the tax rate alleviates some of the burden.
Home Cultivation is Allowed
California’s home cultivation laws also offer cost-saving benefits.
California adults over the age of 21 don’t have to have a medical cannabis card to cultivate. The law says adults can cultivate no more than 6 plants at a time.
For medical cannabis patients who need a particular variety, home cultivation might be the most economical and effective solution for you. Dispensaries might not carry the same strain every time or might sell out.
A More-Tailored Experience
Many medical-only dispensaries are driven to help their patients in different ways than a recreational store might.
For example, a recreational retailer might follow consumer trends more than a medical-only dispensary. A medical cannabis dispensary might focus more on stocking products with a variety of terpene profiles to target different conditions.
How to Get a Medical Cannabis Card in California
Determining your eligibility is the first step to getting your medical cannabis card in California.
California law says physicians can recommend cannabis for persistent medical symptoms that either substantially limit your ability to conduct major life activities, or symptoms that cause serious harm to your safety, physical, and/or emotional health.
This means if you have moderate to severe symptoms that interfere with your day to day life: book an appointment to speak with a physician.
California physicians have the freedom to use their best judgment when it comes to medical cannabis, whether your condition is explicitly listed or not.
In California, patients don’t have to obtain a medical cannabis card to be considered a patient, but you won’t qualify for the reduced tax rates without a card. There is a $100 fee to apply.
Heally’s providers can help you get a medical cannabis card in California. We offer online and in-person appointments for your comfort.
To get the process started, fill out our online contact form. We’ll be in touch with you soon!