Cannabis Basics: Should You Get a Medical Card in CA?

Ever since California voted to legalize adult-use cannabis in 2016, many former cannabis patients have wondered whether there was any advantage to keeping their CA medical card. It turns out there are a number of upsides to renewing (or obtaining a card for the first time). If you believe you qualify for one, a CA medical card could save you money and grant you greater access to purchased or homegrown cannabis, depending on your age and place of residence. Here’s how!

Should I Get a CA Medical Card? Running the Numbers

When California voters approved the Adult Use of Marijuana Act back in 2016, it wasn’t intended to end the state’s long-running medical cannabis program. Even though all Californians aged 21 and up are now granted the right to enjoy the all-natural gift of fresh, fragrant cannabis, those holding a medical card can claim certain advantages.

For one thing, a CA medical card exempts its holders from paying taxes on their legal cannabis purchases. Those taxes are a big deal, typically costing anywhere from 14% – 20% over and above the price of the cannabis itself! While obtaining a CA medical card isn’t free, it’s relatively inexpensive—there’s a $100 cap on the application process—and the savings you gain should quickly offset this.

A medical card also allows you to possess a greater amount of cannabis than a non-cardholder: 8 oz. as opposed to 1 oz. That said, there’s still some ambiguity around this question: Theoretically, police could still confiscate your cannabis if they feel the amount is excessive. But by and large, most medical users’ experience seems to be that their cards offer reasonable protection against seizure of their legal cannabis.

Then there’s the question of age. Under California law, it’s illegal for those under 21 years of age to purchase or use cannabis. But those as young as 18 can obtain a medical card, provided they have a proper doctor’s recommendation.

Should I Get a CA Medical Card? Grow Your Own

Under current California law, adult residents can grow up to six mature cannabis plants at a time, though it’s not legal for them to sell any of it. But there is no limit on the number of cannabis plants the holder of a valid medical card can grow! The only requirement is that the grow area not exceed 100 square feet and that the plants not be clearly visible from public sidewalks or streets.

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Please note: Some jurisdictions may allow a greater growing area, while others may impose zoning restrictions prohibiting outdoor cultivation, so be sure to check your local codes.

Should I Get a CA Medical Card?

As you can see, there are a number of compelling reasons to hang to (or obtain a new) CA medical card. The financial barrier is low, and in addition to saving on those steep cannabis taxes, your card could grant you some useful legal and personal protections. You can find out how to apply, as well as other pertinent information, on the California Cannabis Portal website.

And if you have any questions about medical vs adult-use cannabis or any other cannabis-related topics, just reach out. We’re happy to help!

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