How Do You Buy Marijuana in California Now That It’s Legal?42 Comments
On November 8, 2016, Proposition 64 was approved by California voters, making recreational marijuana legal for adults age 21 and over. The new law, dubbed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA for short), designates state agencies to license and regulate cannabis, imposes taxes at both the cultivation and retail level, and allows for local regulation and taxation of cannabis, among other things.
But now that recreational pot is legal in California, can you just buy marijuana from any dispensary, or do you still need a medical marijuana card in CA to actually make purchases?
If you’re under 21, then you still need a medical card, but if you’re over 21, you can buy marijuana in California with nothing more than a valid, government-issued ID. Recreational shops have been serving Californians since January 2018, and so far it’s been going pretty well–with one small fly in the ointment. Well, maybe it’s more flies than ointment at that.
As it turns out, most municipalities in California have decided to ban recreational marijuana. So, if you live half an hour, an hour or even further from the nearest dispensary, getting a medical card may still be more practical than buying medical cannabis from the recreational market. Furthermore, if you take the added step of getting your state-issued MMIC, you’ll be exempt from the state sales tax on your medical cannabis purchases!
This brings up A LOT of questions for medical marijuana patients and recreational users alike. We’ve updated this info for California’s 2019 cannabis regulations.
Many of us are brimming with questions, though (ironically) correct answers are hard to come by. But fear not; this post will arm you with all the answers you need going into 2019. A few uncertainties we’ll clarify include:
- How do you buy recreational marijuana in California now that it’s legalized?
- What if you’re a medical cannabis patient in California? Is your patient-status affected?
- Do you still need a medical marijuana card in 2019?
- Do you need to renew your MMJ card, and, if so, will the process change or stay the same?
In this article, we'll answer the questions:
[Click any of the section titles below to jump there]
Do I Still Need a Medical Marijuana Card in California If Cannabis Is Legal?
In some cases, yes, but it’s actually a lot easier to get your med card than you might think by simply visiting NuggMD (we would know).
Click here to get your medical marijuana card online in about 15 minutes for just $39. You’ll speak with a friendly doctor, and you’re only billed if approved. Plus get $20 off your first cannabis delivery!
Now that Proposition 64 has passed, or the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) as dubbed by its supporters, you might think that you’ll be able to walk into the nearest 7-Eleven and get a pack of joints.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. A recreational dispensary in California can serve anyone who is 21 and over and possesses a valid, government-issued ID. But there just aren’t that many recreational dispensaries yet.
In fact, at the moment of this update (Jan. 2019), only 18% of California’s 540 municipalities allow recreational sales. But having a medical marijuana recommendation will give you access to far more dispensaries and products since more municipalities allow for medical cannabis.
Getting a medical weed card easily allows you to:
- obtain cannabis at 18 years old
- access more licensed California medical cannabis dispensaries
- save on marijuana taxes with the addition of an MMIC
- purchase and possess larger amounts of cannabis
- cultivate more for medical use in many municipalities (check your local laws)
- protect yourself from police harassment and arrest for possessing, growing or transporting medical cannabis for personal use.
How Do I Get a Medical Marijuana Card After Legalization?
In many ways, getting a cannabis card is easier today than it used to be, but we’ll get to that soon. First, some history on how MMJ recommendations originated.
Thanks to the passing of Proposition 215, otherwise known as the Compassionate Use Act, California has legally allowed marijuana for medical uses since 1996, as long as a patient has a physician’s recommendation.
And special credit goes to the writers of Prop 215, who crafted the measure to state that medical cannabis can be used to treat “any condition for which marijuana provides relief.”
This quite literally means that anyone who can claim marijuana helps improve their physical or mental well-being qualifies to become a marijuana patient in California. And contrary to popular opinion, you actually do NOT need a California ID to become a patient in the state.
All you need is a valid driver’s license or state ID from ANY state, and any condition for which medical marijuana provides you relief.
One of the co-authors for Prop 215, Dennis Peron, is considered the “father of the legalization movement” and said himself that the measure was intended to allow “literally everyone in the state the opportunity to legally access and cultivate as much cannabis as they need to feel good.”
And while California does have its own cannabis ID card program, you are not required to possess a state-issued ID to be considered a legal patient. All you need is a doctor’s recommendation. (You’ll need an MMIC for the state tax exemption though.)
So great! Having a marijuana recommendation increases your access and provides added protection! Now, how do you get one? We saved the best for last, so skip there if you just can’t wait to become a legal patient.
Ask your primary doctor
The first (and admittedly the most intimidating) option you have to get an MMJ recommendation is to ask your primary physician. If he or she can at least have an honest discussion about how cannabis might be beneficial for your condition, you’re on the right track.
But, unfortunately, even with Prop 64’s passage and medical marijuana’s long establishment in California, the majority of traditional doctors still won’t write you a recommendation for marijuana. Some people have stories of completely severed relationships with their doctor just because they posed the question.
So, before you muster up the courage to ask your doctor directly, and risk potential consequence, understand that you have two other options.
Visit a medical marijuana doctor evaluation center
The sad reality is that most American physicians won’t write patients weed recommendations, so a new type of specialized doctor has emerged, a “cannabis specialist” if you will.
These medical marijuana doctors go by many names — 420 doctors, pot doctors, weed doctors, mmj doctors, green doctors, prop 215 doctors — the list goes on and on. And while some are noticeably more legitimate than others, they all cater to the massive California population that wants to legally use cannabis with a med card.
You can google “medical marijuana evaluations near me,” which brings up a few local listings on Yelp or Weedmaps. Then you scroll through these options, check out the reviews (some of which seem fake), prices, distances, and ultimately end up choosing the most convenient one.
When you finally visit the nearest cannabis doc, it feels similar to a typical doctor’s office. They’ll ask for your ID, if you’re a new patient or getting a renewal (recs are only valid for a year), then you’ll sit down to fill out a series of forms describing your condition and medical history.
Once finished, you’ll need to wait your turn to see the doctor. Depending on which evaluation center you visit (there are many scattered across major CA cities like San Jose, San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles), wait times average anywhere from 30 to 120 minutes.
You’ll then sit down face-to-face with the doctor to determine if cannabis is right for you. If that’s indeed the case, you’ll be approved and issued your recommendation. But if you’re not approved, don’t be surprised if you’re charged a hefty fee anyway.
Unfortunately, just like with people asking their primary physician, there’s no shortage of horror stories from patients waiting hours for their mmj evaluation. They often encountered rude and uncompassionate doctors, were sold extras they didn’t need, and even were overcharged when getting their recommendation. The “bait-and-switch” is an all-too-common scam at evaluation centers.
Needless to say, the in-person experience can leave much to be desired.
See a medical marijuana doctor online
We’re talking of course about the emergence of online evaluation services, ones that allow patients and doctors to connect virtually (either by video or phone call). This allows doctors to conduct a good-faith examination and patients to get approved for medical cannabis — all without driving to an office and spending hours in a waiting room with bad magazines!
The entire process is quick, affordable, easy, and 100% legal thanks to California’s telemedicine health laws.
Typically, it goes like this: sign up online, provide basic personal and medical information then have a quick consultation with a pro-cannabis doctor to get approved. Then you’ll receive an instant electronic recommendation for same-day use (you must print it out) while your official paper copy (along with your NuggMD ID Card, if you opted for it) comes in the mail a few days later.
Yup, it’s THAT easy.
Now, there are several online mmj doctor services, but you’ll find the most value from NuggMD. The service started in 2015 and has since helped tens of thousands of patients get their medical marijuana card online and access cannabis delivery from quality dispensaries through their online marketplace platform, Nugg.
When stacked up against the competition, NuggMD just can’t be beat. Here’s what they offer:
- The lowest online price for a recommendation, just $39.
- An optional hard, plastic ID card (only $20 extra).
- On-demand consultations, which means no appointment needed.
- An instant electronic (PDF) recommendation that can be used immediately to order delivery online through Nugg-partnered cannabis dispensaries.
- An official signed paper copy of your doctor’s recommendation with a raised, embossed seal that all CA dispensaries require (and many online med card services don’t provide).
- $20 credit to order from ANY Nugg dispensary partner using the blog promo code BLOG20; you can literally get your MMJ card and cannabis delivered in the same hour.
Why Put Up with Recreational’s Limitations?
The Adult Use of Marijuana Act is bringing many changes, and challenges, to the legal cannabis industry in California. From a consumer perspective, there are still a lot of great reasons to get or renew your cannabis card. Once you reap the benefits of California’s legal medical marijuana market and feel its long-term value, you won’t want the hassle of being a recreational user anymore.
The process to get a proper medical cannabis card is broken. Seeing a cannabis-friendly doctor is time-consuming, expensive, confusing, unprofessional, and sometimes totally scary. Until now…
Well, more like since about a month ago when we launched NuggMD, but that’s beside the point.
We’ve created a convenient, private, and professional way to get your doctor’s recommendation (or renewal) entirely online.
How? Just create a secure account (or login with Nugg) at NuggMD.com, then video-chat instantly with an online doctor who’ll help decide if cannabis is right for you. Your information stays private, evaluation usually take just 5-10 minutes, and our highly knowledgeable doctors have helped tens of thousands of people understand the medical benefits of marijuana.
Here’s How to Get a Medical Cannabis Card Online
Visit NuggMD.com and you’ll find a simple, clean website tailored to cannabis patients of all ages.
You’ll notice we offer a medical cannabis card for just $39, which is up to 50% cheaper than what you’ll find walking into a traditional cannabis clinic. We’re able to do this by partnering with doctors who are compassionate, well-informed, and excited to move the medical marijuana industry forward.
Plus you’ll notice there’s no wait, and you don’t need an appointment, because we pair you with a doctor in real-time for a truly on-demand experience. You can finally forget the days of walking into the 420 evaluations center down the street, and instead…
Keep in mind that if you already use Nugg, our separate-but-affiliated site that lets you order cannabis delivery online from dispensaries in your area, you can just login with your existing profile.
Rest assured, your information is secure (we store it in a HIPAA compliant database), confidential, and only shared with the doctor with whom you have your cannabis evaluation.
If you’re skeptical about submitting your private health information online, we don’t blame you; it’s a new concept that demands trust from both sides. Unfortunately with cannabis, traditional doctors are neither informed nor equipped to serve patients that may benefit from using it as medication.
In fact, most patients either don’t know how to ask their doctor, feel too uncomfortable, or have been scared off by stories of friends encountering hostile responses from their doctors when inquiring about cannabis.
So by offering an online solution for medical marijuana evaluations and doctor recommendations, we hope to provide the convenience and personalized attention that traditional health care just can’t.
It’s our mission to give you a professional, private, and comfortable experience by connecting you with a knowledgeable doctor who welcomes your questions about cannabis.
Speak with a Doctor Before the Process Begins
And the best part? Your one-on-one consultation with a California, board-certified doctor starts immediately when you visit our website. You’ll find a chat feature on the right-hand side that allows you to live-chat with a doctor before going any further in the process. Feel free to ask him or her about cannabis in general, the medical uses of marijuana, how the online doctor process works, or anything else that’ll make your experience more comfortable!
Even if you don’t choose to conduct your medical marijuana evaluation online, you’re still able to get all your questions answered quickly and in one place from a trusted doctor.
Once you’re ready to get your medical cannabis card online, click the “Get an Evaluation” button which brings you to the sign up process…
The Sign Up Process
On the first screen, you’re asked for basic personal information that we’ll need to confirm you’re legally eligible to use medical marijuana in California.
After providing your basic info, the real fun starts—describing your condition(s) or ailment(s) for which you think cannabis might help.
Our online form asks you to check which conditions apply to you, and lists many of the most common conditions (like cancer, arthritis, seizures and migraines) for which cannabis is an effective treatment.
It then digs a little deeper, asking if there’s any history of disease in your family, if you smoke or drink, and if you’d like to upload any prior medical documents to help the doctor better understand your condition.
These are all highly-typical questions that you’ll encounter regardless if you walk into a cannabis clinic or get your recommendation online.
Once you’ve filled out all necessary information and checked the appropriate boxes, you’re brought to the payment page.
The Payment Process
Here, you’re notified that if your recommendation isn’t approved, you won’t pay anything for the consultation. That’s right. No matter what, you’ll get a free medical marijuana consultation. If approved, you’ll receive an instant digital copy of your medical cannabis recommendation, then a mailed physical copy a few days later for a total of $40.
Our software uses the Stripe API, so you can rest easy knowing we accept all major credit cards.
Enter your credit card information and hit submit to continue.
Your payment information will not be processed until after you’ve seen the doctor. Then just wait a few minutes for a doctor to accept your request and review your information. Stay on the screen, wait and look out for a text and email notification when the doctor’s ready to see you (which shouldn’t be more than five minutes).
When a doctor is ready, you’re able to enter the online chat room. Either click the “Enter Room” button on your screen, or click the button on screen if you’re on mobile.
Please note that you must use either Firefox or Chrome as your internet browser for video-conferencing to work. If you’re on a mobile device, you’ll have to download a third party app to join your secure video-chat.
Consult with the Doctor
Once you’ve joined the chat room, you’ll speak face-to-face with one of our friendly, licensed doctors. He or she will ask you about your condition, previous treatments and experiences with cannabis, then will ultimately make a decision as to whether you should try cannabis to treat your condition.
The video consultation typically lasts 5-10 minutes, but you’re free to take as long as you need with the doctor.
Once approved, you’ll receive an email notification with a PDF version of your medical marijuana recommendation. The paper copy of your cannabis rec will arrive in the mail within 3-5 business days of your online consultation.
Now that you can legally get medical marijuana, the number of dispensaries, strains and other products can be overwhelming, even for the more informed cannabis patient. Don’t worry; we have that covered too.
Here’s How to Buy Medical Cannabis Online
With the digital version of your marijuana rec you’re instantly verified and can order online from over 100 California medical marijuana dispensaries using Nugg.
Not only that, but your account is automatically created and pre-loaded with a $20 credit for your first purchase; just login with the same email and password you used for NuggMD!
So that means you can get your medical cannabis card, recommendation, evaluation, consultation, whatever you want to call it…AND get medical cannabis delivered to your door without ever leaving the couch. If you don’t think that’s the coolest thing ever, I don’t know how you made it to the end of this blog post!
By introducing a convenient, private, and professional way for patients to find their way into the cannabis industry, and tying it to our existing platform for online orders, Nugg provides the first all-encompassing cannabis experience that focuses solely on the patient.
So what are you waiting for? Complete your medical marijuana evaluation online today! And tell your friends to get their cannabis recommendations too!