On November 8, 2016, Proposition 64 was approved by California voters, making recreational marijuana legal for adults age 21 and over. The new law, dubbed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA for short), designates state agencies to license and regulate cannabis, imposes taxes at both the cultivation and retail level, and allows for local regulation and taxation of cannabis, among other things.
But now that recreational pot is legal in California, can you just buy marijuana from any dispensary, or do you still need a medical marijuana card in CA to actually make purchases? The short answer is no, recreational shops won’t start serving anyone until at least January, 2018, and you still need a doctor’s recommendation for medical cannabis until that time.
So, this brings up A LOT of questions for medical marijuana patients and recreational smokers who want to purchase marijuana. A few of the ones we’ll answer in this article include:
- How do you buy recreational marijuana in California now that it’s legalized?
- What if you’re a medical cannabis patient in California? Is your patient-status affected?
- Do you still need a medical marijuana card in 2017?
- Do you need to renew your MMJ card, and if so, will the process change at all, or stay the same?
Many of us are brimming with questions, and ironically, correct answers are hard to come by. But fear not, as this post aims will arm you with the answers you need going into 2017.
Do I still need a medical marijuana card in California if cannabis is legal?
To be blunt, yes, but it’s actually a lot easier to get your med card than you might think (we would know).
Click here to get your medical marijuana card online in about 15 minutes for just $39. You’ll speak with a friendly doctor, and you’re only billed if approved. Plus get $20 off your first cannabis delivery!
Now that the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative has passed, or the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) as dubbed by its supporters, you might think that you’ll be able to walk into the nearest 7/11 and get a pack of marijuana cigarettes. Unfortunately, recreational pot shops won’t legally be allowed to serve recreational consumers until at least January, 2018. Not to mention any store with a liquor license will be barred from acquiring a recreational marijuana business license under AUMA.
Why can’t I purchase recreational marijuana until 2018 in California?
Well that’s an easy one. It’s because new government regulations always take forever to implement, and are rarely ever completed in the initially estimated time frames.
Now that Prop 64 passed, the Bureau for Medical Cannabis Regulation (as established by MCRSA) will be renamed the “Bureau of Marijuana Control” and won’t be slated to start issuing licenses to marijuana businesses until January 1, 2018.
But, according to Lynne Lyman, the director for California’s Drug Policy Alliance and one of the people who helped write the initiative, January 1st is the latest possible date that licenses can start being issued, so they may come slightly before.
So, unless you’ve got the personal courage to hold-off until 2018 to soak (and smoke) in the marvel that is the California cannabis industry, you’re still going to need to equip yourself with a doctor’s recommendation for medical cannabis.
But this shouldn’t come as a worry or a burden, as getting a med card is easy and allows you to:
- access California cannabis dispensaries and deliveries immediately
- cultivate as much medical cannabis as necessary to treat your condition (as established by the Supreme Court ruling in People v. Kelley)
- protect yourself from arrest for possessing or transporting medical cannabis for personal use
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card After Legalization
How to get a medical marijuana card is a lot easier today than it used to be, but we’ll get to that soon. First, some history on how MMJ recommendations originated.
Thanks to the passing of Proposition 215, otherwise known as the Compassionate Use Act, California has legally allowed marijuana for medical uses since 1996, as long as a patient has a physician’s recommendation.
And special credit goes to the writers of Prop 215, who crafted the measure to state that medical cannabis can be used to treat “any condition for which marijuana provides relief.”
This quite literally means that anyone who can claim marijuana helps improve their physical or mental well-being qualifies to become a marijuana patient in California. And contrary to popular opinion, you actually do NOT need a California ID to become a patient in the state. It’s shocking how false claims spread the quickest.
All you need is a valid driver’s license or state ID from ANY state, and any condition for which medical marijuana provides you relief.
One of the co-authors for Prop 215, Dennis Peron, is considered the “father of the legalization movement” and said himself that the measure was intended to allow “literally everyone in the state the opportunity to legally access and cultivate as much cannabis as they need to feel good.”
And while California does have its own cannabis ID card program, you are not required to possess an ID to be considered a legal patient, all you need is a doctor’s recommendation.
So, knowing that through at least January 1, 2018, the only way to access cannabis is still by getting a physician’s recommendation and becoming a qualified medical patient, what are your options for doing so? We saved the best for last, so skip there if you just can’t wait to become a legal patient.
Ask Your Primary Doctor
The first (and admittedly the most intimidating) option you have to get a doctor’s recommendation for cannabis is to ask your primary physician. If they can at least have an honest discussion about how cannabis might be beneficial for your condition, you’re on the right track to getting a recommendation from them.
But, unfortunately, even with Prop 64 on the ballot and medical marijuana having been long-established in California, the majority of traditional doctors here still won’t write you a recommendation for marijuana, and some people have stories of completely severed relationships with their doctor just because they posed the question.
So, before you muster up the courage to ask your doctor directly (and risk potential consequence), understand that you have two other options.
Visit a Medical Marijuana Doctor Evaluation Center
With the sad reality being that most American physicians don’t write patients recommendations for cannabis, a new type of specialized doctor has emerged, a “cannabis specialist” if you will.
These medical marijuana doctors go by many names — 420 doctors, pot doctors, weed doctors, mmj doctors, green doctors, prop 215 doctors, the list goes on and on. And while some are noticeably more legitimate than others, they all cater to the massive California population who want to use cannabis legally by getting their med card.
You google “medical marijuana evaluations near me,” which brings up a few local listings on Yelp or Weedmaps. You scroll through your options, check out the reviews (some of which seem fake), and ultimately end up choosing by means of whoever picks up the phone when you call.
When you finally walk into the nearest doctor location, it feels similar to a typical doctor’s office, and you provide the front-desk employee your state ID. They ask if you’re a new patient or getting a renewal (doctor recommendations are only valid for 1-year), then you sit down to fill out a series of forms to describe your condition and medical history.
Once finished with your forms, you wait in the lobby for your turn to see the doctor. Depending on which evaluation center you visit (there are many scattered across major CA cities like San Jose, San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles), wait times average anywhere from 30 to 120 minutes.
You’ll then sit down face-to-face with the doctor to determine if cannabis is right for you, and if that is indeed the case, you’ll be approved and issued your recommendation.
Unfortunately, just like with people asking their primary physician, there’s no shortage of horror stories from patients waiting hours for their mmj evaluation, encountering rude and uncompassionate doctors, being sold on extras they didn’t need, and even getting overcharged (the “bait-and-switch” is an all-too-common scam at evaluation centers) when getting their recommendation.
Needless to say, the in-person experience can leave much to be desired.
See a Medical Marijuana Doctor Online
We’re talking of course about the emergence of online evaluation services, ones that allow patients and doctors to connect virtually (either by video or phone call) to conduct a good-faith examination and get approved for medical cannabis, without any face-to-face!
The entire process is quick and easy, and 100% legal thanks to California’s telehealth laws. Typically, it goes like this:
You signup online, provide basic personal and medical information, then have a quick consultation with a pro-cannabis doctor to get approved. You receive an instant electronic recommendation for same-day use if you print it out, and your official paper copy (along with your MMJ ID Card, if you opted for it) comes in the mail a few days later.
Yes, it’s THAT easy.
Now, there are several online mmj doctor services, but where you’ll find the most value is from NuggMD, a service that started in 2015 and has since helped tens of thousands of patients get their medical marijuana card online and access cannabis delivery from high-quality dispensaries through their marketplace delivery platform, Getnugg.com.
When stacked up against the competition, NuggMD just can’t be beat. Here’s what they offer:
- The lowest online price for a recommendation (just $39)
- On-demand consultations, which means no appointment is necessary
- An instant electronic (PDF) recommendation which can be used immediately to order delivery online through Nugg-partnered cannabis dispensaries.
- An official paper copy of your doctor’s recommendation, signed by the doctor himself
- Your official copy has a raised, embossed seal that all CA dispensaries look (and many online med-card services don’t provide)
- An optional hard plastic ID card ($20 extra)
- You automatically get a $20 credit to order from ANY dispensary on their site; you can literally get your med card and have cannabis delivered to you in the same hour
The Adult Use of Marijuana Act is sure to bring many changes to how the legal cannabis industry looks and works in California. From your perspective as a consumer, you still need a medical marijuana card to purchase cannabis until recreational pot shops open to the public, which likely won’t be until beginning 2018.