The legal situation for recreational marijuana has been fluid for years, with some states choosing to legalize it and others preferring to follow federal guidelines.
Still, 48 million Americans used marijuana in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Access to marijuana depends largely on where you live. Most states have legalized medicinal use, but a growing number are legalizing recreational cannabis as well.
The benefits of medical marijuana are obvious, but what are the benefits of medical marijuana cards? Here's what you need to know.
A medical card allows you to legally purchase medicinal marijuana from dispensaries in your state. It is the only way to legally purchase cannabis in states where recreational weed has not been legalized.
Your medical card may also come with reciprocal benefits that allow you to purchase from dispensaries in other states. Note that reciprocity is a complex network of rules, so if you are traveling, be sure to check the rules first.
Another benefit of a medical marijuana card is that many states will legally allow you to grow your own medication.
Illinois, for example, allows anyone with a medical card to grow up to five plants in a locked room of their home. Even though Illinois is a state that allows recreational use, you'll need to have a medical marijuana card to grow marijuana legally at home.
There is a lot of confusion about whether a medical card can also serve as an ID. Although it is issued by the government and contains your photo, the medical card is designed to serve a specific purpose. It's not necessarily a substitute for a passport or a driver's license when asked to present a form of ID.
In some states, private businesses may accept a medical card as proof of identity, but they also have the right to turn you away. Do you need a medical card for identification at a dispensary? Generally, no, but it's still wise to bring other forms of ID anyway.
To be on the safe side, keep your driver's license or another form of identification in your wallet, as there is no guarantee that your medical card will be accepted as identification.
Today, there are over 3.6 million state-legal medical marijuana patients in the country. Many of these patients live in a casual state because of the added benefit of having a medical card.
So, how much does a card cost?
Each state can set a fee for a card. For example, Arizona charges $150, and every two years, you are required to renew your card. In comparison, Maryland charges just $25.
Note that these prices do not take into account the potential costs associated with physician certification. These certifications are not expensive, but they add to the cost.
Is there a waiver of the fees for getting a medical marijuana card?
Unfortunately, there are no ways to avoid these fees, so you should budget for this process.
No doctor can legally prescribe medical marijuana. Doctors can only recommend the use of medical marijuana. They may talk about the benefits of marijuana or educate patients about the benefits of medical cards, but they can't prescribe it.
Obtaining a medical card usually requires a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana. You will then have to register with your state's medical marijuana program.
While your doctor is unable to write a prescription for medical marijuana, states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal use treat their recommendations the same way they would a prescription. It's a quirk in the law that allows states to get around the federal ban.
If you have an acute or chronic illness, medical marijuana could be suitable for you. But a lot of people ask, "Why to get a medical card in states that have legalized recreational marijuana?"
The benefits of a medical card are enormous, so it's worth taking the trouble to get one if you qualify.
Here are the key benefits of medical marijuana cards.
Is it cheap to buy marijuana with a medical cannabis card?
There is a price difference between recreational and medical marijuana due to recreational weed having a tax levied on it.
Did you know that casual users may pay up to 37% tax on each purchase, depending on the state?
Investing in a card can be helpful because almost every state offers a tax-free or lower tax rate for customers who have a medical card.
Colorado, for example, imposes a 10 to 15 percent marijuana sales tax on all recreational products. However, if you purchase medical marijuana, you will receive a full exemption from all excise taxes, which means a much lower price.
Even in recreational states, restrictions apply to how much cannabis you may have in your possession. In California, recreational users are allowed to buy up to an ounce of marijuana per day. By comparison, anyone with a medical marijuana card can buy up to 8 ounces a day.
So a medical cannabis card enables you to take home more marijuana than casual users, saving you trips to the dispensary.
Some states prohibit recreational users from growing marijuana at home for personal use. So one of the main benefits of a medical marijuana card is growing your own marijuana at home.
Similarly, in Colorado, recreational users can grow up to six plants, and only three mature at the same time. Medical marijuana users, on the other hand, can request to grow more than six plants.
Another reason a medical card works in your favor is that you are exempt from the usual age restrictions in many states.
States typically require customers to be 21 or older to buy marijuana from dispensaries. However, the state medical marijuana program allows eligible patients as young as 16 to buy marijuana with the help of a registered caregiver.
Special medical clinics cater exclusively to medical patients. These exclusive pharmacies offer different products, strains, and additional support.
In addition, the staff at medical dispensaries tend to be better trained to recommend different drug effects and products and explain the benefits of each option.
In other words, these dispensaries are better suited to marijuana connoisseurs.
The main difference between recreational and medicinal weeds is potency. Medical marijuana patients can get more potent marijuana, making it one of the highest-value marijuana card benefits.
In THC terms, what are the benefits of a medical marijuana card?
In states like California, medical marijuana is twice as powerful as recreational products. A lotion or tincture used for recreational purposes may contain 1,000 mg of THC, while a medical product may contain 2,000 mg.
Some states have introduced special laws to support the legal status of those who possess and grow marijuana. In California, Proposition 215 provides exemptions for caregivers and patients who would normally fall victim to criminal proceedings for marijuana cultivation and possession.
Medical cannabis cards show that your cause is supported by a medical practitioner and can help you protect yourself in tough situations.
Many states have yet to legalize recreational marijuana, which means without a card, you may not be able to obtain marijuana while traveling.
So what are the benefits of a medical marijuana card while traveling?
In many states, you can choose to obtain marijuana in another state. While it is still illegal to carry marijuana across state lines, having a medical card allows you to replenish supplies at your destination.
One of the benefits of legalization is that millions of Americans no longer need to have a medical card to buy marijuana legally.
But is there any reason why you don't want to get a medical card?
The federal government is making it harder for marijuana users to legally own guns. DC's current position is that anyone with a medical marijuana card is an illegal gun permit holder.
Although this is a federal rule, some states have delayed it. Texas led the charge, publicly stating that having a medical card is not a reason to deprive someone of their Second Amendment rights.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) specifically prohibits anyone who uses Schedule 1 substances, including THC products, from having a commercial driver's license.
Unfortunately, there is no solution to this problem. If caught, trying to get a medical card could cost you your job and license.
By the nature of their work, federal government employees must comply with federal law. So obtaining or using marijuana, or applying for a medical marijuana card, could cost you your job.
Federal government employees are prohibited from possessing these medical marijuana cards. That could change in the future.
The proposed MORE Act would legalize marijuana at the national level, thereby removing it from the CDC's list of controlled substances. However, despite popular support, this legislation faces an uphill battle to be signed into law.
Nearly all medical states require you to renew your medical card to continue participating in the program.
Most states require you to renew once a year and offer telemedicine appointments. Choosing to make a telemedicine appointment with your doctor avoids the need to take time out of your busy schedule.
In addition, re-certifying and renewing your registration from the comfort of your home is the most cost-effective. Costs vary depending on your state, but you can save hundreds of dollars by managing annual renewals online.
Each state has its own rules affecting its medical marijuana program. Some states have easier access to their respective programs than others.
Some requirements you may have to comply with include:
In addition, you may have to go through this process every year to continue to enjoy the benefits of a medical marijuana card.
The main difference between recreational and medicinal marijuana is its THC content. States set strict limits on THC concentrations in each product.
Often, medical cannabis can be twice as strong as recreational herbs. If you are looking for more effective medications for your condition, recreational marijuana may not be enough.
Figuring out the benefits of having a medical marijuana card in a state where weed is already legal may not be straightforward.
Prices vary widely. Medical marijuana is always cheaper than recreational marijuana because of its tax exemption.
Tax differences are the only reason these products are cheaper. Without taxes, recreational and medical weed products cost almost the same.
Even if you're lucky enough to live in a state where recreational marijuana use has been legalized, it makes sense to get your medical card for a variety of reasons.
Obtaining a card will result in obtaining more efficient marijuana, increasing your possession and purchase limits, and paying less for your medication. The excise tax savings alone could very well cover any costs of applying for and getting a medical cannabis card. It is certainly worth considering and talking to your medical practitioner about.