Interestingly enough, California was the first state to legalized medical marijuana thanks to Proposition 215 in 1996 (better known as the Compassionate Use Act) and California Senate Bill 420 in 2003.  Although Proposition 215 narrowly passed in November 2016, recreational dispensaries have yet to open.

Getting a medical marijuana card in California comes with many benefits. First, cardholders will be able to purchase from licensed medical marijuana collectives across the state. Second, it’s important to note that MMJ cardholders can legally possess “whatever amount of marijuana is necessary for personal medical use.” Having said that, use your best judgment as the consequences for possessing large quantities is quite significant. Lastly, qualified patients and their primary caregivers can grow up to 100 square feet for personal use (or up to 500 square feet fro primary caregivers with five or fewer patients).

Out of all the states with legalized medical marijuana programs, California tops the list in regards to ease of purchasing cannabis – whether you’re a resident or not.

Remember: In California, there is no difference between having a medical card or a recommendation from a doctor. As a result, patients can either use a recommendation or apply for a card (which delivers a physical MMJ card and ultimately decreases legal consequences if pulled over by the police).

Process to Obtain a Medical Marijuana Card in California:

As we mentioned, the fastest option is to receive a doctor’s recommendation through a qualified company with access to doctors around the country.

Enrollment in the California Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) program is voluntary, so it’s up to you if you want to follow through with the formal application. MMIC are issued by individual health department depending on where you live, but remember that you’ll need the following to complete the process:

  • Have a qualifying chronic health condition

  • Find a doctor who can provide a recommendation

  • Complete a Medical Marijuana Program Application/Renewal Form

  • Government-issued ID

  • Proof of residency

Age Restrictions:

Both minors and adults can legally apply for a medical marijuana card in California. Minors who are 18 years of age or young must have parental consent and proper identification.  

Adults simply need to be 21 years of age or older.

Qualifying Health Conditions:

Patients in California who have been diagnosed with a chronic, debilitating or life-threatening medical condition are protected under the California Medical Marijuana Law (as per Ballot Proposition 215).

Such medical conditions include (but are not limited to) the following:


  • Cancer

  • Anxiety

  • Consistent seizures or muscle spasms

  • Chronic pain

  • Migraine headaches

  • Multiple Sclerosis

  • Fibromyalgia

Applying to become a medical marijuana patient in California:

If you have a qualifying health condition, then you’ll first need to obtain a recommendation from licensed physician.

If you choose to submit the Medical Marijuana Program Application/Renewal Form to obtain a MMIC (versus using a written doctor’s recommendation) there is an associated fee. Paperwork can take up to 30 days to be verified, although it can take much less time in most cases. After, the county has five days to provide a MMIC.

TIP: Make a copy of your application for your records before submitting. Your California medical marijuana card is only valid for one year before it will need to be renewed. If you choose to renew, you’ll be issued a new MMIC and ID number.

Reciprocity in California:

At this time, California does not accept medical marijuana cards from other states. Having said that, you will be able to use your MMIC in other states, including Nevada, Michigan, Rhode Island among others.

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