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As of now, 15 states have legalized adult use of med and rec, and when a state legalizes recreational use of cannabis, people tend to stop getting their mmj cards. But cannabis consumers who opt not to get a MMJ card are missing out on a bunch of benefits like paying lower costs, the ability to purchase higher quantities, different age limitations, and additional legal protection. The differences between medical and recreational marijuana are still significant!. Read on for the 7 benefits of having a med card in a recreational state.
1. Lower Costs
Having a medical marijuana card saves you money all year long and gets you lower prices in comparison with those who access it from recreational retail outlets. After marijuana became legalized for recreational purposes in more states, taxes on the product also went up considerably. If you purchase cannabis regularly, you will end up spending more money in the long run if you don’t opt for a med card.
How does the pricing change between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana? Many states have either lowered or exempted taxes on cannabis purchased with a medical marijuana card. Recreational customers pay excise taxes anywhere from 15-37% depending on the state you’re in, while only standard taxes apply to medical marijuana products. Paying to get your card can effectively save you thousands of dollars throughout the year if you regularly purchase medical cannabis products.
For example, in the state of Colorado, sales tax on all retail marijuana/marijuana-infused products increased from 10% to 15% for marijuana sold for recreational purposes. Meanwhile, medical marijuana use in the same state was exempted from the 15% excise tax, leading to lower prices and more accessibility.
2. Higher Possession Limits, Purchase Limits, & Ability to Grow More Marijuana
There are strict limits on how much cannabis recreational customers can purchase, whereas medical marijuana card holders are able to purchase more. For instance, in California, medical patients can purchase up to 8 ounces a day, but recreational users can only purchase 1 ounce a day. With a mmj card, you can bring home more cannabis from the dispensary than someone who is purchasing recreationally.
Different limitations also apply to medical cannabis card holders in comparison to recreational users for possession and home cultivation. Card holders are allowed to possess higher quantities and to grow more plants, depending on the marijuana laws in your state. For recreational cannabis in Nevada, users may possess 1 ounce of cannabis, while medical cannabis users can possess 2.5 ounces.
In some states, only medical patients can grow at home while recreational cannabis users are not allowed to do so. Recreational users in Colorado may grow up to six plants (only three can be mature at once), while medical growers may request the ability to grow more than six plants.
Additionally,let’s look at possession limits in New Jersey and New York. In New Jersey, medical patients can have up to 3 ounces of cannabis, while recreational users are allowed 6 ounces. In New York, medical patients follow a 60-day supply rule, offering flexibility, while recreational users can have up to 3 ounces. These differences highlight how possession limits vary between medical and recreational cannabis users in different states.
3. Lower Age Restrictions
Most states restrict the use of recreational cannabis to adults who are 21 or older. Cannabis possession and consumption remain illegal for people below this age. However, there are younger patients who require the use of medical marijuana for conditions like epilepsy and cancer. Most medical cannabis programs allow patients aged 18-years-old and younger as long as they meet all of the requirements.
In some instances, children under the age of 18 can also access the medical marijuana card via the assistance of a caregiver. When you look at cannabis as a medicine, you certainly want it accessible no matter what age you are.
4. Access to Medical-Only Cannabis Dispensaries
Having a mmj card allows you to shop at medical dispensaries. Even in states where recreational cannabis use is legal, exclusive medical dispensaries exist that are available only to those with a medical marijuana card. Medical users are given access to a wide variety of products, strains, and professional support.
Cannabis extracts are certainly in no shortage for cannabis patients. It seems impossible to keep up with all of these medicinal cannabis products, their uses, potencies, and benefits. That is why people who possess a medical marijuana card also access assistance due to legalizations from medical doctors and cannabis coaches who direct them on what to take for whatever condition they have.
Recreational retail outlets have professional bud-tenders who offer assistance, but they may not have the training and knowledge to assist a medical customer with their questions about products for medical uses, dosages, and using marijuana for specific medical conditions. Therefore, even if your state has legal recreational dispensaries, then you may prefer the advantage of access to medical dispensaries.
5. Stronger Potency Than Recreational
Medical marijuana patients also have access to cannabis that has higher potency levels compared to the marijuana sold for recreational purposes. Many retail shops selling cannabis for recreational purposes will always adhere to specific limits of potency as directed by their state. Some medical patients, especially those trying medical marijuana for the first time, may require higher potencies of THC or CBD for their symptoms as allowed by state law.
In the state of California for instance, edible cannabis products can only contain 100mg of THC and lotions or tinctures are limited to 1000mg of THC. Medical marijuana dispensaries are given more leeway on this potency level, doubling the amount in lotions to 2000mg of THC. Some medical marijuana patients require varying degrees of potency to alleviate whatever medical condition they are looking to manage using cannabis, and recreational products may not always suffice.
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Even if recreation use is legalized in your state, it’s recommended that you look into getting a med card. With your card, you’ll be able to access the dispensaries and med products with higher potencies of THC and CBD for those suffering from qualifying conditions like chronic pain or cancer.
6. Stronger Legal Protection
Some states that have legalized medical marijuana have special laws that help protect the people who hold med cards. Proposition 215 in California exempts patients and caregivers who possess or cultivate marijuana for medical treatment recommended by a physician from criminal laws which otherwise prohibit possession or cultivation of marijuana.
Having a med card can only help should you become legally implicated because of it. When you have a med card, you are backed by a licensed physician; you have the physician’s stamp of approval that supports the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. It can only help you when it comes to limitations regarding possession, cultivation, and purchasing cannabis, so why not apply for a medical marijuana card in your state?
People commonly ask if they might get fired for having a medical card. Generally speaking, that’s between you and your doctor. Some states have laws protecting marijuana users’ employment rights. Be sure to also consult with a legal professional for these kinds of questions for more peace of mind.
7. Traveling Out-of-State Is Easier
In states that offer reciprocity to your home state, you can possess and/or purchase medical cannabis there with your out-of-state mmj card. So if you’re traveling and need access or if you are going out of state to see a specialist, reciprocity might allow you to use your med card in another state.
Always research the state you are traveling to make sure they will accept your out-of-state mmj card; be aware that it is illegal to cross state lines with cannabis. The following are states that accept out-of-state mmj cards:
- Arizona (allows possession only)
- Arkansas (patients from out-of-state may apply for a temporary in-state license)
- Hawaii (patients from out-of-state may apply for a temporary in-state license)
- Maryland (visitors may register for a mmj card if they are visiting the state for medical treatment)
- Missouri (allows possession only)
- New Hampshire (allows possession only)
- Oklahoma (patients from out-of-state may apply for a temporary in-state license)
- Rhode Island
- Washington D.C.
Check out this article to learn more about states that accept out-of-state medical marijuana cards.
How Does a MMJ Card Work?
The process of getting a medical marijuana card was painful a few years ago. One had to seek approval from a doctor, then jump through hoops seeking a secondary approval from a State medical agent and so on.
Today, thanks to the internet, you can get your medical card right at home in states allowing telemedicine, wherever you are, at the click of a button. You still need some approval though, but the process is a breeze.
A lot of people worry about whether med cards are confidential and whether their insurance will be alerted if they get one. The answers to these questions can get tricky because it relies on the laws for each individual state. If you’re worried about these specific issues, it’s best to talk to a healthcare provider in your state or seek consultations to find a definitive answer.
Steps to Buy Cannabis in Medically Legal States
Those with qualifying medical conditions in your respective state’s medical marijuana program may already have the diagnosis and medical records required to apply for a med card.
Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana
Medical marijuana programs in different states each have their own list of qualifying conditions. Patients diagnosed with these conditions may apply to their state’s med program. Check the list in your respective state and keep in mind that conditions are occasionally approved and added. Note that in some states, you may qualify even if your condition is not on the list, which is one reason why it’s important to speak with a medical marijuana doctor.
See some examples of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana (depending upon the state in which you live), and visit our Conditions database to learn more
At Veriheal, we are dedicated to making the process of accessing medical marijuana as quick and easy as possible.
- Find a doctor and get a card. Sign up today with Veriheal, and you can book an appointment with a licensed doctor in your area for a medical marijuana evaluation. If you’re approved, you can begin the application to your state’s medical marijuana program.
- Locate a dispensary. With your card in hand, you can begin scoping out dispensaries in your area.
- Buy your medical marijuana. Visit a gov-licensed medical marijuana dispensary and begin enjoying accessibility to cannabis medicine.
It’s great to see that states in the U.S. and other countries abroad are taking steps to legalize marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes through licensed dispensaries. However, the benefits that come with a marijuana medical card far outweigh the convenience of over-the-counter recreational cannabis use. Which is why you should consider getting a card today.
Remember to speak with your doctor before using CBD to learn if it’s right for you, especially if you are taking prescription medications. At Veriheal, we can set up an appointment for you with a medical marijuana doctor or a cannabis coach to learn more about how cannabinoids like CBD and THC may be able to alleviate the symptoms of your condition(s).
This article was originally published in December 2020 and most recently updated in October 2023.