Guard Your Rights (and Save Money): Why You Should Get Your California Medical Card
Remember marijuana cards? Because adult-use cannabis is legal in California, many people assume those once-essential slips of paper went into the recycling. But the California medical card is alive and well. And if you like securing your rights as a medical marijuana patient—oh, and saving a bunch of money, too—you might want to think about getting one for yourself. Here’s why.
The California Medical Card: Extra Safeguards for Cannabis Patients
Back in 1996—when California made history with the passage of Prop 215, decriminalizing medical cannabis—the state launched the California medical card system to identify those of us who could legally possess marijuana. The program’s official name, by the way, is the Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC).
Fast-forward 20 years to another landmark: The passage of Prop 64, which welcomed adult-use cannabis for the rest of us. If marijuana was okay for anyone of legal age, why would you need a card? A few reasons, it turns out. Let’s break them down one by one.
Increased Protections During Police Searches
Holders of a California medical card can possess more cannabis than non-cardholders. Under Prop 64—the adult-use law—adults can possess up to an ounce of fresh cannabis flower. But cardholders can possess up to eight ounces! This can be a very big deal if you—or your designated caregiver—happen to get stopped and searched. According to the state’s Health and Safety Code 11362.71(e):
“No person or designated primary caregiver in possession of a valid identification card shall be subject to arrest for possession, transportation, delivery, or cultivation of medical marijuana in an amount established pursuant to this article.”
That said, there have been anecdotal reports of people with valid California medical cards being arrested for carrying more than an ounce of marijuana based on the arresting officers’ discretion. One example might be police officers acting on neighbors’ complaints about patients growing too much marijuana.
But even still, there’s a good chance that a court will side with you. A landmark State Supreme Court decision, People vs. Mower, holds that patients have the same right to marijuana as to any legally prescribed drug. Under this ruling, those who have been arrested can request dismissal of charges at a pre-trial hearing. If the defendant convinces the court that the prosecution hasn’t established probable cause that it wasn’t for medical purposes, criminal charges are typically dismissed.
Access to Medicine for Younger Patients
In California, the age limit to purchase or use adult-use cannabis is 21. But qualifying for a California medical card allows access to those as young as 18, provided they have a doctor’s recommendation. For those of us who suffer from debilitating chronic conditions like seizures, migraines, and chronic nausea, this increased access to medical cannabis can be a question of life or death.
How About Saving Money?
Okay, we saved the best for last: Having a California medical card saves you money! Because cardholders are exempt from paying taxes on their purchases, they can expect to save somewhere between 14% – 20% less than adult-use patients!
Of course, you’ll still have to pay to obtain your California medical card, but it’s pretty cheap (there’s a $100 cap on the application process). And the money you save on your purchases should quickly offset this cost.
Do you have other questions about the California medical marijuana card program? Just ask! We’re here to help.