In the USA, 37 states have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes, while recreational marijuana is legal in 19 states. Medical marijuana states issue an MMJ card to qualifying patients, allowing them to legally buy and use cannabis for medicinal purposes.
To obtain a medical marijuana card, patients need a doctor’s recommendation and must suffer from one of the state’s “qualifying” medical conditions. You have to pay a fee to get an MMJ card, and it’s usually valid for one year and can be renewed. Though the process differs slightly from state to state, the general procedure is similar.
Getting your card can be time-consuming and costly, so many people in recreationally legal states tend not to get an MMJ card. However, if you’re a medical marijuana candidate, it’s almost always worth having a card, even if you live in a state that allows recreational use.
Below, we explore the benefits of having a medical marijuana card.
1. Lower Costs
Although obtaining your MMJ card incurs costs, it can save substantial money in the long run.
The tax rates for recreational marijuana are higher than those for medical marijuana, which means recreational cannabis costs more. Depending on the state, recreational users pay excise taxes anywhere between 15 – 30%, while only standard taxes apply to medical marijuana. Some states have even exempt taxes on medical marijuana.
In perspective, medical marijuana patients can expect to pay just 1% sales tax plus the local sales tax. Therefore, while a medical patient will pay approximately $105 for $100 worth of flower, a recreational user will pay around $130 for the same thing.
Additionally, the medical framework allows for discounts on medical marijuana based on income, and purchases are tax deductible.
2. Legal Protection
Cannabis is still illegal federally, and state laws regarding marijuana use are constantly changing. An MMJ card gives you a certain legal protection in the state where you’re registered as a medical marijuana patient.
Also, out of state medical marijuana cards allow users to continue using medical marijuana in other states with reciprocity.
Even if you live in states where marijuana is recreationally legal, an MMJ card provides extra protection. Moreover, while there are strict limits on how much marijuana recreational customers can buy and possess, medical marijuana card holders can possess significantly more.
While laws differ between states, those using recreational cannabis (in legal states) are generally allowed no more than 30 grams of dried flower or cannabis-derived products. In most MMJ states, patients are granted a larger possession/purchase/consumption limit than recreational users.
3. Access to Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Possessing a medical marijuana card allows you to shop at medical-only marijuana dispensaries. Even in recreational states, exclusive dispensaries are accessible only to those with an MMJ card.
Medical dispensaries tend to sell a wider range of cannabis products, including flower, concentrates, edibles, tinctures, and more. Also, such dispensaries give you access to professionals who can answer any questions and give advice about using marijuana for specific medical conditions, along with dosage recommendations.
Additionally, as already discussed, you can expect to pay less for medical marijuana. Plus, some dispensaries offer coupons, discounts, special deals, and reward programs for MMJ customers.
4. Higher Potency Marijuana
Medical dispensaries are typically allowed to sell higher potency marijuana. Many retail outlets selling marijuana for recreational purposes adhere to their state’s specific potency limits.
Often, high potency cannabis is necessary to alleviate specific medical symptoms. If you don’t have an MMJ card, you may not have access to strong enough cannabis.
For instance, edible marijuana products in marijuana can contain 100mg of THC, and tinctures or lotions have a 1,000mg THC limit. On the contrary, medical marijuana dispensaries have a wider scope for potency level, with a THC limit of 2000mg in lotions.
Some states reserve a percentage of the most potent marijuana products strictly for medical marijuana card holders only.
5. Safety and Purity
Generally, medical marijuana dispensaries have the best grade of tried, tested, and trusted cannabis products. Products undergo a series of tests to ensure quality, purity, and safety. Moreover, final products are submitted to third-party lab testing, whereby an independent laboratory tests for pesticides and heavy metals like lead and verifies purity and potency.
Although many recreational products may undergo similar testing, medical dispensaries are held to higher standards. Therefore, while finding high-quality, safe cannabis products recreationally may be hit and miss, it’s more of an assurance at medical dispensaries.
Even if recreational marijuana is legal in your state, it’s often worth acquiring an MMJ card if you have a qualifying medical condition. The benefits of being an MMJ patient far exceed those of recreational users.
Perhaps most significantly, medical marijuana products are usually more affordable, and you have access to a larger range of products. Medical dispensaries also guarantee safe, pure, and high-quality marijuana products.
So despite the general consensus that having an MMJ card is pointless if you live in a recreational state, the opposite is true.