Learn How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in California
The Process for Applying for a Medical Marijuana ID Card (MMIC)
Where can I get my MMIC?
You cannot obtain a MMIC directly through your primary physician. You can only get an MMIC at your county program; you can get more information at the county offices page.
What type of documentation will I need before I apply for a MMIC?
The first step is to fill out the Application Form. Once completed, submit the application to the county in which you reside. The documents you will need to have with you include:
- Your medical evaluation documents
- Proof of your identity. This can include a valid California driver’s license or ID card.
- Proof of residency, like a utility bill or mortgage agreement.
You are required to submit your application in person at your county program. At the time you apply, you will be required to:
- Pay the required fee of no more than $100, and
- Have your picture taken for your MMIC.
How long before I receive my MMIC?
After you submit your application and supporting documents, the county is given 30 days to verify the information in your application. Upon verification, the county has five days to provide you with your MMIC. However, if your documentation is lacking the process can be delayed.
How long is my MMIC good for?
Your MMIC is valid for up to a year. The only exception is a primary caregiver MMIC, which expires at the time the patient’s card expires.
What is the MMIC renewal process?
The renewal process is no different than the initial application process. In fact, the same form is used. Your application will have to be verified again, and you will be required to provide the same documentation described above.
Why is it necessary to apply for my MMIC in person?
Some verification can only be done in person. Additionally, your photo for your card must be taken in person.
Can a person under the age of 18 apply for an MMIC?
Yes. Under certain circumstances, a minor can apply for an MMIC. A person under the age of 18 can apply as qualified patients so long as they are lawfully emancipated. Otherwise, the county will contact the minor’s legal guardian to obtain their permission. An emancipated minor may also apply for a MMIC as a primary caregiver. In some cases, a county will require additional documentation from an emancipated minor during verification.
How can a minor prove their identity?
A minor may use the same form of government-issued identification to prove their identity as an adult would. This includes a California driver’s license or ID card. If a minor lacks either of these forms of ID, a birth certificate is sufficient.
How can I appeal the denial of my MMIC application?
You can obtain more information regarding the appeal o f a county’s denial of your MMIC application at the official appeals web page.
Do I need to attach copies of medical records to my application?
No. There is a separate form known as the Written Documentation of Patients Medical Records Form that serves this purpose. The form should be filled out by your primary physician. On it, your doctor should explain your serious medical condition as well as discuss how the use of medical marijuana would be an appropriate treatment. Once the form is complete, you will need to leave a copy with your doctor’s office and file the original with your application.
Can I apply on behalf of a qualified patient if I am their legal representative?
Yes. If you have the legal authority to make medical decisions on behalf of another through either an advanced health care directive or a durable power of attorney, you are authorized to apply for a MMIC on behalf of a qualified patient.
Who has access to my application and any sensitive medical information attached after I submit my application?
The county agency is required to develop procedures and protocols to ensure that your private health information is not compromised. This includes compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
The sensitive medical information in your application is not entered into the Medical Marijuana Application System. The system does contain your personal information, only a unique ID number. A search of the Medical Marijuana Application System will only reflect whether or not a certain unique ID number is valid or invalid.
Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC)
What can a Medical Marijuana Identification Card (MMIC) do for me?
Your MMIC is your proof that you are protected under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. The purpose of these ID cards is to allow law enforcement to easily determine if a person is authorized to possess marijuana or not under California law.
Thanks to the Adult Use of Marijuana Act of 2016, you will not have to pay sales or use tax when making a retail purchase of medical cannabis products.
Do I qualify for an MMIC?
That is a discussion you will need to have with your primary care physician. To be eligible for the protections provided by the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, you will be required to have been diagnosed with a serious medical condition. Your medical records must reflect that you have this serious condition, and that your physician believes the use of marijuana to treat this condition is appropriate.
When it comes to qualifying for a MMIC, what counts as a serious medical condition?
California Senate Bill 94 helpfully sets out the full list of serious medical conditions that can qualify you for a MMIC card. These include AIDS, anorexia, cancer, chronic pain, and many more. The list is open-ended, and allows for any chronic or persistent medical issue that either substantially limits your ability to function or that may cause long-term harm to your physical or mental well-being.
Can the State of California refer me to a physician?
No. The state MMICP will not act as a referral service and does not keep a list of California physicians available.
If my MMIC is lost or stolen, can I get a new one?
You must contact your county program directly for the cost and procedure for obtaining a new card.
Can I use my MMIC in a state other than California?
Possibly. California may have reciprocity with some other states, but you will need to contact that stite directly to be sure.
Is my MMIC valid in any county in the state?
Yes. Your MMIC is a statewide ID card valid in any county in California.
What information will my MMIC contain?
As mentioned previously, each MMIC will be assigned a unique ID number that can be used to identify the cardholder. The card will also contain an expiration date as well as contact information for the county that approve the card. The card will also include a photo of the cardholder, as well as a designation for either “patient” or “primary caregiver” status.
What is the total cost for applying for an MMIC
Each county pays for their own MMIC program entirely through the fees collected during the MMIC application process. In fact, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act requires each county to levy fees on each person seeking to get a new card or retain a current one.
By statute, the fee cannot be more than $100 per renewal or application. What’s more, the fee must be waived for indigent qualified patients that participate in the County Medical Services Program. The expenses for a MMIC program will vary greatly between counties, so it is possible that the total amount fees can vary from one county to the next. Be sure to contact your county program to confirm their fee amount.
What is considered a primary caregiver?
Any person consistently responsible for the health and well-being of a qualified patient is a primary caregiver. A primary caregiver must be at least 18 years old, unless that person is an emancipated minor. A primary caregiver can be a single individual. However, it can also be an owner or employee of a licensed medical facility or hospice. You can get more information about primary caregivers here.
Why must a qualified patient be present when a primary caregiver applies for a MMIC on their behalf?
The patient must apply for a MMIC no matter what. In cases involving a primary caregiver, the State of California will require verification from both the patient and the caregiver. This means that both the patient and the caregiver will be required to submit personal information.
What if the qualified patient I am caring for is bedridden?
Contact your county program directly for more information.
How do I apply for my own MMIC as a primary caregiver for a qualified patient?
You are not allowed to apply for a MMIC as a primary caregiver. Only the qualified patient you care for may apply for your MMIC. Your patient will be responsible for filling out the application form and indicating that he or she is seeking to include you as a primary caregiver. Unlike your patient, you are not required to live in the county in which you are seeking your MMIC. You will have to give the county information regarding the county of your residence, though.
If you have more than one qualified patient that you serve as primary caregiver for, state law requires that you live in the same county as all of the patients in order for you to qualify for a MMIC. You will need to show the county program proof of your identity when you apply in person. You will also be required to pay the mandatory county fee and have your photo taken for your MMIC.
Is it mandatory for patients and primary caregivers to take part in the Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program?
No. Your participation in the MMICP is entirely voluntary.
Frequently Asked Questions
In what ways does Proposition 64 impact patients who currently use medical marijuana?
The Adult Use of Marijuana Act of 2016 made a few important changes to the MMICP. First, it broadened privacy protections for qualified patients that have a MMIC. The law now deems all patient information as “medical information” that falls under California’s medical confidentiality laws.
The proposition made other important changes to the program, including capping fees at $100, allowing indigent people to waive their fee, and granted additional protections for parents and legal guardians of minor children.
Finally, qualified patients and their caretakers are not required to pay retail sales tax on medical cannabis or other medical marijuana products. This includes edible medical cannabis products or topical marijuana remedies. To have your sales tax waived, you must present your MMIC at the time of purchase.
What do I need to know about Proposition 215, The Compassionate Use Act, and Senate Bills 420, 94, and 798?
Proposition 215 was initiative that paved the way for the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. While the two terms are used interchangeably by some, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 is the name of the law itself. It was the first time a statewide medical marijuana measure was passed in the United States. Proposition 215 crafted protections for state residents who had a doctor’s recommendation for marijuana for medical purposes. The proposition also guaranteed protections for doctors and caregivers while assisting these qualified patients.
Senate Bill 420 was the piece of legislation that enacted the Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program. This legislation empowered the state to create an online verification system for MMIC recipients. The purpose of this bill was to give law enforcement the tools they needed to identify qualified patients who were legally authorized to possess marijuana for medicinal use.
Senate Bill 94 was signed into law in 2017. The bill repealed California’s previous marijuana regulations and replaced it with language that legalized the use of cannabis by adults and set up a framework for taxing the legal sale of marijuana. Senate Bill 94 also exempted MMIC holders from the requirement of paying sales tax on any medical marijuana products.
Also in 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 798 into law. Senate Bill 798 expanded the pool of doctors qualified to recommend medical marijuana to include doctors certified by California’s Board of Podiatric Medicine
Is there a limit to the amount of medical marijuana I can possess?
Yes. As a qualified patient with a MMIC, you can possess no more than eight ounces of dried marijuana. In addition to dried marijuana, you are also authorized to keep up to six mature marijuana plants or twelve immature marijuana plants.
Will the MMICP be shut down?
While there have been numerous changes to California’s marijuana laws over recent years, all of these changes have left the MMICP intact. New cards are still being issued and the verification process is still ongoing.