Now that recreational marijuana in California is here, there are some concerns about the effect the newly implemented law will have on existing medical marijuana patients within the state. Medical marijuana has flourished in California since the 90s and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Here are the most commonly asked questions about medical marijuana in California to make sure you know exactly where you stand in 2018.
If you have questions about recreational weed in California, check out our list of the top FAQs about recreational cannabis in California.
I need medical marijuana in California, but I also want to work for the government. Can I do both?
Theoretically, your status as a medical marijuana patient is protected. Your Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) number can be released—but not the name or condition(s) attached to it. Before you sign any background check releases, make sure you read the fine print: medical records can be obtained but only if you explicitly consent to it. For more information, visit the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
What are the age restrictions for medical cannabis?
Medical marijuana is legal in California for adults age 18 and older. As long as you have a state-registered MMIC, you will be able to purchase medical cannabis from a dispensary licensed to sell medical-grade weed.
Dispensaries can have both a type-M license (for medical-grade weed) and a type-A license (for Adult Use aka recreational cannabis), although some only have one or the other. Check with your dispensary beforehand to see what license they carry.
Why should I get a medical marijuana recommendation now that recreational weed is legal?
Medical marijuana in California has been around since 1996, but recreational weed in California just hit full legalization on January 1, 2018. Invariably there will stutters and stalls as businesses adjust to the new requirements under Prop 64, and for that reason alone, an MMIC may be beneficial for those who qualify.
Some additional benefits for MMIC carriers include:
- Protection from the Cole Memo rollback courtesy of U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions. The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment prevents the federal government from interfering with medical marijuana, and it is still upheld despite the Cole Memo revocation (at least until January 19, 2018).
- Over one thousand medical dispensaries are already in business.
- Patients can be younger: 18 years old is the minimum age for an MMIC.
- Larger possession and cultivation allowances than recreational marijuana.
Here’s how to obtain an MMIC in California.
What is an “attending physician” and where do I find one?
This is where you will get your medical marijuana recommendation (the term prescription, as it applies to marijuana, is illegal). According to Prop 64, an attending physician is “an individual who possesses a license in good standing to practice medicine, podiatry, or osteopathy issued by the Medical Board of California, the California Board of Podiatric Medicine, or the Osteopathic Medical Board of California” and “who has conducted a medical examination of that patient before recording in the patient’s medical record the physician’s assessment of whether the patient has a serious medical condition and whether the medical use of cannabis is appropriate.” In short. This physician will have seen you as a patient before issuing a recommendation for medical marijuana.
You can start by checking out our MMJ service to see an attending physician.
How often do I need to renew my Medical Marijuana Identification Card in California?
You’ll need to renew your MMIC once a year. For more detailed information, check out this site.
I have my medical recommendation, but I technically live out of state. Will I still be able to get my medical marijuana delivered to me while I’m in California?
Not legally. Delivery must now be met with a valid MMIC, and an MMIC can only be issued to legal residents of California.
I don’t live in California, but I would still like to get my medical cannabis recommendation. Can I?
You may be able to secure a recommendation from an attending physician, but MMICs require proof of California residency to obtain. Since MMICs are now required for all medical cannabis transactions in California, a recommendation alone won’t get you very far.
I don’t have my California ID, but I live here. What documents can I use to prove my residency?
You may be able to use a lease or utility bill to establish your residency and your Passport or Military ID to evidence your identity. The law is a bit murky on these requirements, and it ultimately depends on the county issuing the MMIC.
Now that recreational cannabis in California is legal, I heard that medical recommendations will be more difficult to acquire. Is this true?
Not necessarily. All recommendations must come from a patient’s “attending physician,” and that physician cannot be receiving any incentives from organizations that might benefit from the sale of medical marijuana. This has actually been in effect since the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act of 2015 and has little to do with the restraints of Prop 64.
Why should I get a medical marijuana recommendation now that Prop 64 is in effect?
Lower taxes (MMIC holders are exempt from California state tax), wider initial availability (over 1,000 medical dispensaries already in business), and larger possession and cultivation are just some of the benefits that come with an MMIC. If you have a condition that necessitates the use of marijuana, it is advisable to obtain or keep your medical recommendation.
Will dispensaries be able to sell both medical and recreational cannabis in California?
Yes, as long as they have both type-M (Medical) and type-A (Adult-Use) licenses. Some jurisdictions may only allow medical dispensaries in their community.
There’s a new 15% tax on my medical marijuana purchases! What gives?
This new tax scheme will be collected on both recreational and medical marijuana in California. The funds will support university research, community investment initiatives, youth education, and law enforcement. With California holding the title of the sixth largest economy in the world, the revenue stream from this mandatory excise tax is expected to make a serious impact on not only the state but also the federal level.
I have my medical card. Can I still get fired if I am positive for cannabis on a drug test at work?
Yes. Your MMIC does not protect you from disciplinary actions pertaining to your company’s drug policies. It’s unlikely that you will be able to win a discrimination case against a company if you do lose your job due to testing positive for medical marijuana. California courts have a history of ruling in favor of businesses over individuals in these types of cases. Unless something changes on the federal level, you will be better off concentrating your efforts on getting a new job.
Does the repeal of the Cole Memo by Attorney General Jeff Sessions affect medical marijuana in California?
It certainly could. Medical marijuana jurisdiction falls under an additional law known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which prevents federal interference with medical marijuana in California (at least through its extension to January 19, 2018). Sessions and his political allies (of which there are increasingly few) aim to hinder marijuana in all its forms, so don’t be surprised if this changes. We’ll bring you updates as they happen.