How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in California? - August 12, 2021

California legalized medical marijuana with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 or Proposition 215. It was a step forward and proof of the growing progressive attitude of the state towards cannabis. It allowed all patients with debilitating medical conditions approved by the California law to access the herb for medical reasons with a legit medical marijuana card in California.

All patients seeking medical cannabis treatment must be familiar with the process and laws associated with getting a medical marijuana card in CA.

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in California?

To get a medical marijuana card in California you need to consult a licensed healthcare provider who will evaluate you and determine if you qualify for a medical card or not. The process is simple:

  • Visit a physician near you or consult a licensed doctor online.
  • Complete your consultation.
  • Upon approval, receive your recommendation.
  • Use your doctor’s recommendation to register with the CA medical marijuana program (optional).

Here’s a step-by-step insight into the process.

Step 1: Get a Medical Marijuana Doctor’s Recommendation

A medical marijuana card is only issued to patients who fulfill all the requirements of the CA medical marijuana program. A qualified doctor plays a crucial role in this process as they are responsible for evaluating the patients as per the requirements of the state and writing a recommendation. You can consult a doctor for a recommendation in person or online.

Visit a Physician

You can connect with a healthcare provider registered with the CA medical marijuana program for a cannabis recommendation. The process involves consulting a doctor in person and going through the 420 evaluation process to get a recommendation. You can call in to make an appointment at your convenience.


Visit a Physician Image


Once the evaluation is complete, the doctor will write you a recommendation which can then be used to buy and use medical cannabis in the state.

Consult a Cannabis Doctor in California Online

If you do not prefer walk-in clinics, telemedicine is the way to go for you. You can consult a licensed physician using your phone. The process is simple:

  • Visit the website and register.
  • Fill the prequalification form.
  • Complete your evaluation via video call.
  • Receive your recommendation by email.

Most online evaluations are quick and provide same-day approvals. You can use your doctor’s recommendation to buy and use the herb legally in the state.


Step 2: Register With the California Medical Marijuana Program (Optional)

Medical marijuana patients with a legit recommendation can register with the CA medical marijuana program and apply for an MMIC card.

Registration with the state program is completely optional. All patients can access the herb and legally purchase it from all registered dispensaries in the state using just a recommendation. However, an MMIC card renders a few more privileges to all patients. This includes more legal security and tax benefits.

You can register with the California Medical Marijuana Program by following these steps:

  • Download the MMIC application form online or get one from your county Department of Health office.
  • Attach the necessary documents and submit the form in person at your County program.
  • Make the payment and wait for approval.

You need the following documents to apply for an MMIC card:

  • A copy of your doctor’s recommendation.
  • A state-issued photo identity proof. (Driver’s license, State-issued ID card, US passport, etc.)
  • Proof of residency (utility bill, rent or mortgage agreement, insurance documents, CA voter registration, CA DMV motor vehicle registration, bank statements or any state document with your name and physical address.)

The county program has a 30 days window to approve the application or inform the applicant of any missing information or document. Upon approval, the MMIC card will be delivered to your provided address within 5 days.

Learn more about getting a California MMIC card here.

Did You Know?
California is the first US state to legalize Medical Marijuana.

Can Minors Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card in California?

Yes, minors can apply for a medical marijuana card in California. All MMJ patients who are younger than 18 years can apply for a California medical marijuana card as long as they are emancipated or have a legal primary caregiver.

The designated caregiver can apply for an MMIC card on behalf of the minor. The approval process would involve an additional step of verification with the parent or guardian of the minor by the County program.

In case the minor is emancipated or has declared self-sufficiency, the program would ask for additional documents or proof of the same.

Related article

Who Can be a Primary Caregiver in CA?

A primary caregiver of a medical marijuana patient is anyone who is responsible to meet their everyday needs (housing, health, and safety) including buying or growing medical cannabis and administering proper doses to the patient.

The requirements for being a primary caregiver in CA are as follows:

  • Must meet the legal definition of primary caregiver as per the Compassionate Use Act.
  • Must be 18 years or older unless they are the parent of the patient.
  • Must be a parent or the owner, operator, or employee of a licensed facility like a clinic, home health agency, and hospice.

How Do Primary Caregivers Register With the CA Medical Marijuana Program?

The patient must apply on behalf of the primary caregiver and specify the same by checking the ‘primary caregiver only’ box at the top of the application.

Both the patient and the caregiver must visit their county’s department of health office to submit and receive the MMIC card. It is necessary to visit the office in person as the office needs to take a photograph of the caregiver.

It is necessary for primary caregivers to register with their county program if they wish to legally buy and use medical marijuana for their patients.


Why Do You Need a Medical Marijuana Card in CA When Recreational Cannabis Is Legal?

You need a medical marijuana card in CA even when recreational cannabis is legal because you get access to special privileges that are otherwise not applicable to non-cardholders.


Benefits Recreational Cannabis Medical Cannabis
Legal Age Limit 21 years 18 years
Growing Limit Six plants per parcel of land. Six mature and 12 immature plants or as per the limit approved by a licensed physician.
Purchase Limit 1 ounce or 1000mg THC per packet per day. 8 ounces or 2000mg THC per packet per day.
Possession Limit 1 ounce Any amount necessary for the medical condition and approved by a licensed physician for personal medical use.
Money Savings No money savings. Can save more than 25% on cannabis with tax-exemptions, special discounts, and more.
Accessibility Cannot access medical marijuana dispensaries and high potency products. Can access all medical marijuana dispensaries in the state and buy high potency products.


How Long is a California Medical Marijuana Card Valid?

A California medical marijuana card is valid for a period of 12 months after the date of issuance.

After expiration, the patient can register with their county program again to get a medical marijuana card using their doctor’s recommendation if it is still valid. A medical marijuana recommendation is also valid for a period of 1 year only. After expiration, you can get it renewed by your doctor.


How Much Does it Cost to Get a CA Medical Marijuana Card?

It costs no more than $100 to get a CA medical marijuana card. The application fee for every county program is different, however, the maximum fee is capped at $100. The application fee for a primary caregiver is also the same as the patient application.

Upon proof of participation in the Medi-Cal program, patients can receive a 50% reduction in the overall fees of the county program. The application fee is also waived for any patient who is eligible or a part of the County Medical Services Program.

The cost of a doctor’s recommendation in California also depends on the healthcare provider you choose. The charges may vary depending on whether you go for an in-person consultation or find a doctor for an online evaluation.


Who Qualifies for a Medical Marijuana Card in CA?

You qualify for a medical marijuana card in CA if you fulfill the following requirements:

  • You are a resident of the state.
  • You are 18 years of age or older.
  • You are a minor who is emancipated or with a registered caregiver.
  • You are suffering from one of the medical conditions approved by the CA Department of Health.

The following medical conditions are approved by the state for a medical marijuana card:

  • Cancer
  • Anorexia
  • Cachexia
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic Pain
  • Migraine
  • Glaucoma
  • Persistent Muscle Spasms
  • Severe Nausea
  • Seizures

A physician also has the right to recommend medical cannabis to any patient suffering from debilitating medical conditions of symptoms that:

  • Limit the ability of a patient to conduct major life activities (as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act.)
  • Poses risk to the overall well-being of the patient.

Overview of the Medical Marijuana Laws in California

It’s essential for all qualified medical marijuana patients to familiarize themselves with the cannabis laws of the state. Here’s a quick overview of the important laws of the state of California.


Where Can I Buy Medical Cannabis in CA?

You can buy medical cannabis in CA from any dispensary across CA. As long as you have a valid recommendation or a medical marijuana card, you can use it to buy, purchase or use cannabis in the state. You can find a cannabis dispensary near you and purchase your medication easily.


Medical Cannabis in CA


Make sure to go through the laws of your individual counties or cities as they have the right to adopt their own laws.


How Much Medical Cannabis Can I Legally Purchase and Possess in CA?


Possession Limit Medical marijuana patients can possess as much medical cannabis as their medical condition requires or as approved by their physician.
Purchase Limit Medical marijuana patients can purchase up to 8 ounces of cannabis or 2000mg THC per packet, per day.


Possessing or purchasing medical cannabis more than the required amount or not for personal use can attract legal penalties.


Does California Follow Medical Marijuana Reciprocity?

California does not have a dedicated medical marijuana reciprocity program. However, after Proposition 64, the state legalized recreational use which allows all adults over the age of 21 years to possess and purchase cannabis. So, all visitors including patients can use their home state-issued ID cards to purchase, possess and use cannabis in CA.

The purchase and possession limit for adult use is 1 ounce of cannabis or 1000mg THC per packet per day.

You can also use your CA medical marijuana card to purchase and possess cannabis in states that allow medical marijuana reciprocity. Make sure to check out the medical marijuana reciprocity laws in the US if you are an MMJ patient traveling to a different state.

Can I Grow Cannabis in CA With a Medical Marijuana Card?

Yes, you can grow cannabis in CA with a medical marijuana card. You can possess and grow 6 mature and 12 immature plants in the state as a qualified patient and grow up to 500 square feet as a primary caregiver. However, if that’s not enough for your medical condition, you can request your doctor to increase your growing limit and approve you for a grower’s license.

A grower’s license allows patients to grow up to 99 plants at home. The limit, however, will be decided and approved by your healthcare provider.

Medical marijuana patients are allowed to grow cannabis legally as long as they are using it for their personal medical use and as per the state and county laws. Make sure to familiarize yourself with your county laws regarding growing cannabis at home as the laws may have some restrictions for the same.


How to Apply for a Grower’s License in CA?

You can apply for a grower’s license by visiting a doctor in person or by applying online using these steps:

  • Apply for a grower’s license online.
  • Complete your consultation via video call.
  • Upon approval, receive your license by email.

The PDF of the license is mailed within 24 hours. A hard copy of the same with an embossed seal will also be delivered to your provided address within 3-4 business days.

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Online Medical Card Team