Since California first paved the way and legalized medical cannabis in 1996, U.S. states have been following their lead and slowly coming online. This ramped up in 2012 when Colorado and Washington were the first to make cannabis legal for recreational purposes.
There are now 18 states with recreational cannabis laws in 2022, including Washington D.C, plus even more states with cannabis legislation in the pipeline. Recreational cannabis sales alone have generated millions of dollars for U.S. states and bolstered local economies. Tax revenue is often funneled back into the community, through opportunities like funding government initiatives, supporting local school districts, or contributing to scientific research about cannabis consumption. Recreational programs make it easy to access cannabis. Consumers don’t need a medical marijuana card, they just have to be 21 years or older and present a valid ID.
With that being said, there are perks to having a medical marijuana card, though, even where cannabis is recreationally legal. Here are a few:
Medical Marijuana Patients Usually Pay Less For Their Medicine
Sales, excise, and local taxes are the three main taxes on cannabis sales. Sales tax is paid on all retail goods and services, except in certain jurisdictions. It’s the most common kind of tax on purchases and the one most Americans are used to.
Every state makes its own laws when it comes to cannabis because there are no federal regulations to follow. In most states, however, medical marijuana patients see less taxes attached to their purchases. Nevada’s medical cannabis patients pay a 4.6% sales tax, for example, while recreational consumers also pay a 10% sales tax on top of that 4.6%.
Illinois is known for being one of the highest-taxed legal cannabis markets in the U.S., with some jurisdictions like Chicago imposing up to a 40% tax rate on recreational cannabis purchases. For medical marijuana patients, only a 1% statewide sales tax applies.
Medical Marijuana Cardholders Can Purchase More Cannabis
Many states allow medical marijuana cardholders to purchase more cannabis than recreational consumers. One study found Canadian medical patients consume cannabis much more frequently than Canadian recreational consumers, on average.
Recreational consumers reported cannabis less than weekly, while medical patients consume cannabis every day. An increased possession limit on medical purchases makes it possible for patients to access the appropriate amount of medicine.
In Colorado, medical marijuana patients can purchase up to two ounces of flower in one day, while recreational consumers have a one ounce per day allotment. Some states also allow the recommending physician to prescribe you a recommended amount based on your condition and medical needs, superseding state-issued limits.
Patients Can Access Caregivers or Cultivate Their Own Cannabis
Medical marijuana patients are able to cultivate their own cannabis at home in most states. Some states, like New Jersey, don’t allow home cultivation, so check your state and local laws before proceeding. Even local jurisdictions can opt-out in certain states.
Home cultivation is one of the most affordable ways to access medical cannabis. Additionally, you can grow exactly what you want and not rely on the dispensary to carry what works best for you. Rural patients who live far from licensed dispensaries also benefit from home cultivation laws. If you don’t feel comfortable growing your own cannabis, most states with home cultivation laws also allow for caregivers, who can grow cannabis on your behalf.
Medical marijuana patients who want to cultivate cannabis at home or enlist the help of a caregiver must apply with their state. There are pros and cons to home cultivation, whether or not it’s the right solution depends on the individual goals of each patient.
Apply For Your Medical Marijuana Card
Only state residents with active medical marijuana cards benefit from these perks. Getting your medical marijuana card can often be done online, without leaving home.
To apply for your card, find your state, and connect instantly with a certified physician.