Marijuana has seen rapid growth in its rate of popular acceptance over the past few decades. A large part of that shift in public perception has arisen from the use of marijuana in the healthcare system.
California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana back in 1996. Since then, almost every other state in the country has adopted laws that legalize the use of medical marijuana in one form or another.
Getting a Medical Marijuana Identification Card
To receive a medical marijuana identification card (MMIC), you must apply in person at the health department of the county you live in. Most offices will require you to schedule an appointment, so it is best to check the website and give the office a call if necessary.
There are several items you will need to bring to your appointment, which include:
- A copy of the recommendation from your doctor
- A valid government identification card
- A photo of yourself taken at the county’s program office
- Proof of residency within the county where you are applying (a rental agreement, bills with your address, and voter registration can all be used for this purpose)
You will also need to pay an application fee. The amount of this fee varies by county.
The process for a primary caregiver to obtain an MMIC is the same as for a patient. The only difference is that both parties must be present at the appointment to apply for the card.
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How Long Does It Take to Get an MMIC?
After you have submitted your application, the county has 30 days to verify the information you have provided. If the application is incomplete, you will be contacted by the county within these 30 days. Once your application has been verified, the county has an additional five days to issue the card to you.
After an MMIC is issued to a patient, it will be valid for one year. Once the card expires, the process must be repeated in full to obtain a new card. To avoid a lapse in your card’s validity, it is recommended that you begin the process a month before your card is due to expire.
For a primary caregiver MMIC, the card will expire on the same date as the patient’s card.
What Information Does an MMIC Contain?
There are several things that will appear on your MMIC. These include:
- Your photo
- Your user identification number
- The card’s expiration date
- The name and phone number of the country program where you filed your application
- The URL where the authenticity of your card can be verified
- Your role as a patient or primary caregiver
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The History of Medical Marijuana Legalization
California was the first state to successfully pass a medical marijuana law. This law is California Health and Safety Code 11362.5, aka Prop. 215: The California Compassionate Use Act (CUA). The CUA was passed into law by voter approval in 1996.
Since then, 35 other states, along with the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have approved comprehensive medical marijuana programs. Another 11 states have passed laws allowing for the use of medical marijuana products containing low THC and high CBD.
The only states that have not passed laws allowing for some form of medical marijuana usage are Idaho, Kansas, and Nebraska.
The History of Recreational Marijuana Legalization
Since 2012, when Washington and Colorado became the first states to pass laws legalizing the use of recreational marijuana, another 16 states along with D.C., the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam have passed laws doing the same. An additional 13 states along with the U.S. Virgin Islands have decriminalized the use of the drug.
It seems likely that several more states will enact laws legalizing the use of marijuana over the next decade, and it could quite possibly be legalized at the federal level once the majority of states have passed such laws.
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The Benefits of Having a MMIC
With the availability of legalized recreational marijuana, many people who use the drug for medical purposes may be inclined to avoid the process of obtaining an MMIC. They may prefer to simply purchase marijuana from a recreational dispensary.
However, an MMIC still comes with benefits that are not available when purchasing recreational weed. One perk to an MMIC is that with the card, you can purchase marijuana without paying sales tax. Additionally, if you are under the age of 21, you are still eligible to receive an MMIC, whereas you are not permitted to use the drug recreationally.
Another benefit of getting a medical marijuana identification card is that you have easier access to strains containing high CBD and low THC content. These strains can be harder to find at recreational facilities, due to the fact that many recreational users purchase marijuana for the psychoactive effects of the THC.
While an MMIC is not necessary to take advantage of the rights you receive under Proposition 215, it does protect you from potential arrest.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney If You Were Arrested and Have a MMIC
Federal law does not recognize California State laws regarding marijuana. So, even if you are following all state laws, you can still be arrested by federal officers. However, this is extremely rare as the federal government generally allows states to handle cases involving marijuana without interference.
If you are arrested for possession or use of medical marijuana, though, a criminal defense lawyer can help. Contact the Simmrin Law Group today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We will review your case and explain all of your legal options for avoiding a conviction.